Gothic Magazine (Germany May 2005)
Weshalb hast du eine so lange Zeit keine Musik mehr gemacht? / Why haven’t you made music for such a long time?
At the risk of sounding melodramatic, a combination of events conspired to kill my enthusiasm for making music. In 1996 or 97 the labels that I recorded for closed down – the owners of New Rose in France sold their company to a chain store called FNAC, the people behind DiDi Music in Greece closed the label to concentrate on live concerts and the owner of the German label allegedly had a nervous breakdown and left his label in the hands of two young girls whose only talent was to upset all their artists including me! So I was left without support for new recordings, distribution, promotion and live concerts. I decided therefore to record and release the next album myself, which was ‘Gargoyles’. But although the pressing was sold out I didn’t know how to get the reviews, promotion and distribution I needed. Distributors generally don’t deal with small labels owned by the artist and at that time dance music and techno was the only thing selling so I felt rejected and isolated. The final blow came when a European distributor failed to honour their agreement and sent back unsold copies of the ‘Live In Germany’ CD without their covers to save money on postage! That was so disheartening.
Even ‘Bucketful of Brains’ a UK fanzine who had supported me since 1985, was sold to people who took great delight in telling me that they didn’t like my music! So it was a very obvious time to stop. I was getting older too and felt it was time to forget my dreams. I had a good run and it wasn’t practical to be an independent artist anymore. So I threw all my master tapes in the dustbin and put my love into raising my two little boys instead of into music. I wrote 15 books on magic and mysticism during that time and had a lot of incredible psychic and spiritual experiences which I included in some of the books so I began to live the life of some of the characters I had created in my songs. I also wrote a lot of reviews for film and music magazines so I satisfied my other ambitions during those years.
Was hat dich letztendlich dazu bewogen wieder eine CD zu machen? / What was the decisive factor to make a new album?
One day in 2003 I became curious about my past and listened to a couple of the CDs again for the first time in 6 years and heard myself as other people must have heard me. It gave me a new perspective – I realised what my qualities were and also my weaknesses. Then I re-read some of the messages that fans had written to my Italian website and I started to believe in myself again. About the same time I got an unexpected offer to appear at a Goth festival at an old castle in Berlin and it was too good to turn down. I had to learn to play the guitar all over again – I was so stiff! And then I had to re-learn the songs. At the festival I met some fans backstage and recovered some of my old enthusiasm.
After that I wrote 2 albums of new material with the same pleasure I had always derived from writing. The music flowed effortlessly through me and so I gradually got enough confidence to record a new album and rediscover the old Paul Roland. That was the deciding factor – I awakened my love for creating music and recording which I had when I made my first album ‘Werewolves of London’ back in 1979. I was still hungry to make music that would thrill me and which I hoped would do the same for other people. I also worked out a lot of the parts for the other instruments myself and discovered that I could write arrangements and that gave me a lot of confidence. I had relied on other musicians a lot in the past and now I finally discovered that I could write simple lines for woodwind and strings and could create the parts I wanted other musicians to play. That was very liberating.
Inhaltlich schließt du an deine alten CD’s an. Was für Geschichten erwarten den Hörer bei Pavane? / The contents are very similar to your former CDs. What kinds of stories are on Pavane?
I deliberately recorded in a similar style to my earlier acoustic album ‘A Cabinet Of Curiosities’ because I realised that is what people wanted to hear from me. I had enough rock songs for an album but I didn’t know if I would get the chance to make more than one album! So I made an acoustic album because it had the best chance of success and might give me the chance to make another. I thought this might be my last album so I must make the best I can.
As for the stories I have a track based on the Ray Bradbury ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ called ‘Dark Carnival’ in which a soul eater comes to a small Midwestern town, a ghost story about an aging priest who is haunted by the spirits of the people he buried in unconsecrated ground called ‘Hymn’ and a song set in the West Indies called ‘Voodoo Doll’. There is also a poignant tale of a bereaved couple who attend a séance in an attempt to contact their son who was killed in the First World War, a couple of tales of obsessive love and death and a folk style lament by a dying gambler called ‘Dice With The Devil’. Plus there is an instrumental prelude and reprise in the style of Michael Nyman which I am particularly proud of as I wrote all the parts for that. Nyman had offered to write an arrangement for me based on one of my themes back in the 1980s and I stupidly hadn’t accepted his offer because I was afraid he might not like my music enough and that would have been a cruel blow as he is my favourite composer. So now I have created a small glimpse of the music that might have been had we worked together.
Woher nimmst du die Ideen für deine Texte? / Where did you get your ideas for the lyrics?
Sometimes a certain scene in a film or an atmospheric description in a novel will set me off. That will give me the initial inspiration, but then I’m off in a world of my own. Unless I get that vivid inner vision I don’t write anything. I’ve been actively looking for new sources of ideas and I’m exploring American horror comics and modern novels with a historical setting.
Wird es nach Pavane wieder eine lange Pause geben oder können deine Fans auf eine weitere CD-Veröffentlichung in den nächsten ein bis zwei Jahren hoffen? / Will you start again to make more music and can we hope to get some more music from you in the next years? What are your plans for the future?
I will be recording a new album with my old band in January 2005 which I hope to have ready for the late Spring and I have been asked to record a gothic ‘concept album’ by a small Italian label called Black Widow. But I really need a German label to support me so that I can make music without worrying about distribution and promotion which saps so much of my creative energy.
I have a lot of ideas, some of which I didn’t get to record in the first half of my creative life, but which I will hopefully do now that I have a second chance.
I’d love to do a film soundtrack and a one act chamber opera (ie small scale with 3 or 4 singers and a small chamber orchestra). But these projects take time to write and record and are almost impossible for an independent artist to take on without support from an enthusiastic label.
In den letzten Jahren hast du als Autor gearbeitet. Was genau waren die Themen über die du geschrieben hast und hat es sich bei den Büchern um Auftrags-Arbeiten gehandelt oder hast du die Bücher selber herausgebracht? / In the last years, you worked as an author. What are these books about and did you publish these books on your own or was it for a purchaser?
I have always been fascinated by mysticism and the occult – ever since I had out-of-body experiences as a child – but I also had a fear of what I might find ‘out there’ so I took to writing books on the subject in an effort to explore the unknown step-by-step. And the more I learnt and the more incredible the experiences that I had, the more confident I became and the less fearful I was. And that is what I try to do for the readers – to take the fear out of the unknown and help them to understand that the supernatural is an extension of our natural world and that psychic powers are also natural and not superhuman in any sense. We are limiting our potential if we restrict our senses to the physical world alone.
So I have written books on Kabbalah, how to contact your guardian angel, dreams, meditation, exploring past lives and a book called ‘Investigating The Unexplained’ in which I describe some of my own psychic experiences.
But I have also written books on music and I will be writing a big book on horror this year which will cover movies, literature, comics and other areas as well as looking at the psychology of fear.
Du spielst momentan mit dem Gedanken nach Deutschland zu ziehen. Was hat dich auf diese Idee gebracht? / I heard that you will live in Germany. Why do you want to do that? I am still thinking about it. Nothing is decided but the audience for my music has always been in Europe – not England and I have many musician friends in germany. But I am also becoming increasingly insecure in England. The English attitude to Europe is disturbing. So many people here express suspicion of ‘foreigners’ instead of welcoming them. It is slowly becoming a depressing and increasingly violent place to live. I don’t want my children to grow up here. Germany seems a far healthier environment politically and culturally.
Wird es eine Möglichkeit geben dich wieder einmal auf der Bühne zu sehen. Eventuell beim WGT in Leipzig? / Is there a chance to see you again live on stage? Maybe at the next WGT in Leipzig?
I have been invitied to play the Wave Gotik Treffen festival in May with my band and again as an acoustic act. That should be an opportunity to meet the people who like my music – as that is my reason for touring. I don’t need to play the songs, I know them. I tour to meet people. That’s my reason for playing live.
May I take this opportunity to say thank you for showing an interest in my work and I would like to invite anyone who is interested to write to me though my website www.paulroland.de.
Vielen Dank für das Interview
Interview und Bericht: Oliver Klein
weitere Infos: www.paulroland.de