As we reach the halfway mark, Paul Orwell has stumped a ruddy great stake in the ground to waltz off with many people’s Album Of The Year choice following the release this month of Blowing Your Mind Away.
Such has been the buzz generated by this young songsmith, after two singles (“Little Reason” and “You’re Nothing Special”) were snapped up by frenzied record hounds, the LP sold out before it even hit its release date on pre-orders alone. It didn’t even see the inside of a shop record rack. Five hundred copies gone in an instant; without anyone hearing it. Those savvy enough to have been paying attention and who got in quick have been duly rewarded with a stunning collection to proudly sit alongside the classic 60s records which so inform Blowing Your Mind Away. There’s no one dominant influence as Orwell fills his pick and mix bag with goodies from all over the shop: some wild freakbeat guitar breaks; bit of the Eyes riffing here; Blues Magoos organ there; a hint of Between The Buttons; some Hollies; the Animals; Syd Barrett; is that a Jacques Dutronc fuzz guitar line? A touch of first album Horrors?
Monkey Picks had a word with Paul and tried to pin him down on his biggest influences. “The Beatles, Stones, Phil Spector, Joe Meek,” he says, “the usuals really”. The mention of Phil Spector and Joe Meek are most telling and give the biggest indication of where Paul’s coming from, especially the DIY/record at home ethic of Joe Meek. All the tracks on the album were written, produced and played by Paul (with the exception of the drums) and recorded in his bedroom. Not that it sounds like it and not that finding a release was initially uppermost in Paul’s mind.
“I wrote and produced a series of tracks, never really intended to see the light of day. My best friend Michael [Parrett], who is the band now, heard it and said I should release it. So I continued to try and make something where each track could be an A side single release. I'm not too sure how many tracks I wrote, but I kept cutting and changing until the best fourteen where finished.”
Those eventual fourteen – all short and without an inch of wasted fat – don’t contain a single duff track among them – the benchmark of a great album rather than a very good one. Even on first play it sounds like a Greatest Hits collection. It’s that immediate. “Very kind of you, this is what I really hoped to achieve. So for you to say that really means a lot.”
With the record already a sought-after collector’s item I wonder if Paul’s sold himself short by only releasing a limited edition vinyl LP. “As a vinyl collector it made sense to have a real release. I couldn't really see the point of releasing MP3 or CDs without a big promotional campaign behind it.” Any plans for a repress or to make it more widely available? “If a big label or good indie label had the funds to do it justice then I could go with the flow. A repress would be good, especially to get it around the world more and into shops.”
With a sold out album, promotional gigs hardly seem necessary but Paul’s keen to get back out playing. “I’m auditioning members at the moment. All I wanna do is play again. It’d be great to play “Fangz”, “Bad Blood” and “Here and Now” live and raw. It's frustrating to have to rely on other people to do shows and things. I sometimes wish I’d started an acoustic album so I could just be the loner I am.”
There’s another issue to sort. “I really want a publishing deal; I am song writer more than anything else. I would like to get into writing more and more. I have hundreds of songs I’ve started in different genres; I’ve hoarded stuff for far too long. So hopefully I’ll get it all out before I’m gone.”
I’m sensing a very determined individual. “I am," Paul confirms, "and anyone who stands in my way or holds me back can just do one.”
Blowing Your Mind Away by Paul Orwell is released on Heavy Soul Records. Tape it off a friend.