Paul Carella is a name you might not know, but it’s one you should definitely look out for, and his music is a must listen collection of skilfully crafted country songs. I was lucky enough to catch up with Paul just recently, and this is what he had to say.
So tell us about how you started with music, and as someone desperately trying to learn guitar, I’m very interested in your experience as a self taught musician?
I’ve always been interested in music since a young age, maybe 4 or 5, but I was more interested in singing and moving around to the rhythm of the songs, which probably explains my fascination with Elvis Presley, my first idol. It wasn’t till my very early teens that I picked up the guitar for the first time, only because my brother played. He was very protective of his guitars, so I had to sneak into his room when he wasn’t there and play them. He was right handed though and I was a lefty, so I had to teach myself to play right handed. I didn’t really take guitar seriously until I got my own when I was about 18 or 19. I just played around studying chord shapes, practising them over and over. I kept things simple and I think that really helped me develop in my early guitar playing days. For anyone teaching themselves, keep it simple practice hard and stick at it.
Have you always been a songwriter or did that come later, and how do you find the song writing process?
Songwriting came shortly after picking up the guitar but I certainly consider myself a songwriter before anything else. It’s a process that I find comes naturally to me and I’m very grateful for that. Sometimes it can be frustrating, because you just cant find that certain something your looking for, that makes the song come alive. Again, for me it’s about keeping the process simple, it’s easy as a songwriter to try and sound philosophical, to over complicate what your trying to get across in your song but when it’s simple it just seems to pour onto the paper.
You moved from Glasgow to London in 2009 – what motivated that move and how did things change for you once you were based in London?
I was actually offered a job in London and I hesitated to take it because I was just starting to find my feet on Glasgow’s music scene. I decided to take it though as I thought it would be a good adventure and a test at a young age. I didn’t know anyone or anything about the place really, but I had my guitar and I played the open mic circuits religiously, then onto the covers scene then eventually onto playing my own music at my own shows. So, I don’t think things changed for me that much when I moved to London, but it definitely made me get out there more and play because I didn’t have home comforts.
These days a lot of young artists have more of a contemporary sound, with Bro-country being a term we’ve seen banded around in the last 12 months. You have a more classic / timeless sound to a lot of your songs – is that how you see your music continuing, because in contrast to your classic sound, Red Soul Woman is a grittier almost dirtier sound, not too different from the direction Eric Church has taken with The Outsiders?
I’ve never tried to have that classic sound or to go in a direction, intentionally anyway, it’s just what it is, you know, I play and write and it just kind of comes out like that. Naturally, in my opinion, the more people you meet, the more music you hear and the more people you work with in the industry and life for that matter, influence the sound and direction of your music. Red Sole Woman was great fun and I do love the grittier sound of it, but I wouldn’t say that that is something I’m going for. There is actually an alternate version of , Red Sole Woman, on my current album, Carella, which has a more classic sound.
You’d been fortunate enough to take your music to Nashville on tour – how was that experience and what did you learn over there?
Nashville was an incredible experience for me, the people were amazing and it’s just such a cool place to be. It was really to test the water because although my music has been played on a Texan radio station for the past few years, it was the first time I was actually going there to play. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be taken, you know, a Scotsman singing Country music in Nashville, but it was a very successful tour where I was met with nothing but amity. I’m looking forward to going back at some point.
Your Damage is Done, seems to come from a place of pain – did it come from personal experience or it a song that you wrote inspired by something else?
Yes, Damage Is Done, for the most part, comes from personal experience. I really tried to capture those feelings we all feel in those moments of turmoil and hopefully people can relate to that.
How hard is it to get your music out there as an independent artist and how do you do just that?
It does take a lot of hard work and commitment, because there is a lot of talented musicians out there, all vying for the same thing. You just have to play when and where you can as often as you can. The more you play, the more people get to see you and get know you and the more chance they’ll grow to like you and become fans. That’s what’s worked for me!
Country 2 Country (C2C) this year gave a lot of exposure to many UK acts this year – is securing a pop up stage spot on your agenda for 2015?
Yes, definitely. It’s a great opportunity and it would be a pleasure to play at C2C.
Since C2C 2014 , and with the success of duos like The Shires and Ward Thomas, there seems to be a lot of momentum for country music in the UK, helped in no small part by the Nashville TV series I’m sure. Have you personally felt the effects of this surge of interest?
I’ve always felt that it’s always had a strong following in the UK, just under the radar. I’ve always played Country, even when I was playing the covers scene when I was just starting out. I would play songs by Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Charlie Rich etc. in bars and clubs that were not places that played that kind of music and they would always go down really well, from kids in their late teens to people of the older generations. I think the difference is, a lot of cool, young country singers are coming through that the younger generations can relate to. Things like the Nashville series and movies such as Crazy Heart and Walk The Line, have all definitely helped though.
You are going to be recording your 3rd album this year – what can we expect from that and when will it be out?
I’ve recently decided to release an E.P this year instead and release the album next year. All the songs are written and ready to go. I haven’t decided yet on whether or not I’m going to do it with my full band or not, but it will have an acoustic feel to it. The E.P will be released in October, with shows to follow.
Who in country music do you admire, past and present and why?
That’s a good one! Past, i have to go with Johnny Cash. He was the reason I started playing country music. For the most part, because we had a similar tone of voice, but the more I got to know his music, the way it was written, the freedom in his lyrics and his voice, a man who did it his way, it really hit home with me. Present, it’s definitely Zac Brown. I saw him play live and the way the crowd reacted was unbelievable. Together with his band, they create a great sound, that really clicks with me, hopefully our paths cross one day on the stage!
Now that people know a little more about you, when and where can they see you play live?
I’m concentrating on recording at the moment, but I’ll be playing in London at The Islington, a solo acoustic set on June 5th , 229 The Venue, with my band on 12th July and then again on the 9th of August. There will be shows throughout the rest of the year yet to be confirmed, you can keep up to date with my latest news on my social network pages: facebook.com/paulcarellamusic and @paulcarella