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Paul Roland – ‘Uncut’ Interview, Spring 2016

In the Opium Den, album by Paul Roland, cover artwork

Paul Roland – ‘In The Opium Den’ (2016 Cherry Red Records)

“Occult hero’s eccentric, psychedelic post-punk … patchouli-oil scented esoteric pop [and] paisley shirt recidivism… Roland has been acclaimed a steampunk prophet…not without honour in his own land, either.”

(from the album review by J. Wirth)

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‘Baker Street Chronicle’ – The Paul Roland Interview

photo of Sir Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes (1939-46)

Sir Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes (1939-46)

Q. Your latest record is called ‘Professor Moriarty’s Jukebox’: Can you describe it a little bit? And why that title?

“It’s an album of radio sessions, rarities and unreleased tracks, but it bears no relation to those compilations which gather up out-takes that have been discarded on the cutting room floor. The core tracks are recordings I made with a new band which I assembled to play at a charity event organised by the actor and TV presenter Stephen Fry. Unfortunately, the event didn’t happen but I didn’t want that band to be ‘lost’ to posterity without getting them in the studio and recording our live set for several radio stations in Europe and America. So the first 10 tracks on the CD are some of my strongest songs re-recorded with new musicians, including an excellent violinist and a psych guitarist, plus some female backing vocals from the American steampunk band The Clockwork Dolls. There are also several acoustic songs with a strong Edwardian and supernatural theme such as ‘Fairies’, which was inspired by The Cottingholm Fairies case and an alternate version of ‘Eight Little Whores’, one of two songs I wrote about Jack The Ripper.

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Airship Pirates and Clockwork Quartets

Steampunk - guitar player with top hatIt may be of little concern to the bureaucrats who drew up the Trade Descriptions Act, but it’s an undeniable fact that there isn’t much punk in steampunk. At least not of the three-chord thrash variety spat out by the snotty, glue sniffing, safety pin and spiky hair, pogo-till-you-puke brigade who stormed the barricades back in ’76, or ‘Rock’s Year Zero’ as the NME would have it. Back then it was ‘Anarchy In The UK’ and the wholesale slaughter of the dinosaurs of corporate rock. Now it’s more like anachronistic fashion accessories in the UK and US as the likes of Abney Park, Sunday Driver and Vernian Process describe a dystopian fantasy world through rose-tinted goggles with a sentimentality that would make the late Bill Grundy doubt he could goad them in to saying something risqué about Queen Victoria.

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Paul on tour in Greece

Poster announcing Paul's gig @ the Gagarin 205 Live Music Space, Athens

Poster announcing Paul’s gig @ the Gagarin 205 Live Music Space, Athens

Paul will be playing at the Gagarin 205 Live Music Space in Athens tonight, 15 December 2012.

Last Tuesday, 11 December, he appeared on the Greek TV show “Radio Arvyla”, a satirical news show, on the Thessaloniki-based TV channel ANT1. Paul played an acoustic medley of “Re-Animator” and “Gabrielle” (the latter being a popular song in Greece) for which he was joined by his 14-year-old son Joshua on bass guitar.

On Wednesday, 12 December, he appeared at the “Ζωντανή Μαύρη Τρύπα” (the Black Hole Live) club in the historic Ladadakia quarter of Thessaloniki supported by Giannis Kyratsos. Videos of the performance can be found on Paul’s facebook page and on the Paul Roland Music Television and the kazandbtv YouTube channels.

Following a press conference in the chic Floral bar yesterday evening, Paul with be playing the Gagarin 205 club tonight supported by Jenny Benwell (violin) and Joshua Roland (bass). Guests are Mani Deum, Athens.

For more information, please visit Paul’s facebook page or that of the PRAS.

Blast from the past: Masque interview – 1990

FOR those of you who managed to secure a copy of the recent ‘Masque’ reissue, we thought you might like to read this interview from the time of the album’s original release which we have just unearthed in the musty library at Roland Towers. 

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Paul Roland ‘Masque’ Interview 1990

In autumn 1990, just prior to the release of the album ‘Masque’, journalist and friend Mike Taylor interviewed Paul for an Italian music magazine.

There is a stuffed dodo on the large circular lawn whose eyes seem to follow me as I walk up the driveway towards the house. The gardener too, surveys me with a glazed expression. His rigid pose, suggesting the work of an expert taxidermist!

I know that if I venture down the long echoing hallway I’ll find further horrors. Perhaps even the owner of the house himself engaged in some curious research on a carnivorous orchid. This, my friend, isRolandTowers, the stately home of that charming English eccentric Paul Roland whose new album, ‘Masque’ has prompted my visit.

Meeting the reclusive Englishman is an unnerving experience for he is quiet, polite and the perfect host, not at all what one might imagine the teller of such weird and wonderful tales to be. Read the rest of this entry

Paul interviews… Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull

IT may not be fashionable to say so, but I have always had a soft spot for early Jethro Tull and that is why I had no qualms about featuring a flute on ‘Captain Blood’ and later on ‘Pan’, though one American fanzine dubbed it “the spawn of Satan” (the flute that is, not my song)! I was therefore delighted to meet the band’s frontman and songwriter Ian Anderson in 1989 and to have had a chance to ask why it all went hideously wrong during ‘A Passion Play’! Only kidding, though I did manage to slip that question into the conversation, though I worded it more diplomatically of course(*).  

Since the mid-Seventies Jethro Tull have been vilified as self-indulgent, pretentious and archaic, yet their albums continue to sell close on a million copies each year, their concerts are sell outs in Europe and the USA, and they picked up a Grammy for best hard rock album of ’87. Not bad for a band who are often written off as ‘too old to rock and roll’. Read the rest of this entry

The day I visited Bolan’s house

I said in my previous posting that I wasn’t as affected by Bolan’s death as other fans had been, but people react in different ways to loss and I think I simply didn’t believe, or want to believe, that we wouldn’t be hearing any new music from him, and that my dream of meeting him and one day even maybe having an album produced by him, could never be.

I was also, I must confess, possessed by a feeling which The Who described in the song ‘5:15’ as being “sadly ecstatic that their heroes are news”, as Bolan was once again on the front pages of all the newspapers, on the radio and TV and so I thought that everyone would now realise how important he had been. There was also the hope that we would now finally hear all those unreleased tracks we suspected were gathering dust in the vaults of Essex Music and EMI as every fan knew that Marc hadn’t released some of his best recordings. But then I am still writing about this subject 35 years later so perhaps that speaks for itself.

I remember asking my father as we watched the funeral on television what happens to someone when they die, so I was obviously in some form of shock and preoccupied by death, but the fact that Marc had been cremated meant, to my mind, that there wasn’t a body in the ground to visit and to which one could pay one’s respects. If there is such a thing as the soul, and my own childhood out-of-body experiences had convinced me that this is so, then Marc was now somewhere else and there was no proof that he was dead. Of course it made no sense, but then it is not unknown for those experiencing loss of any kind to go into denial and the fact that Marc Bolan was not a personal friend or family member didn’t lessen the sense of loss, as any fan will know. When you are a hypersensitive teenager the sudden death of your hero can be as traumatic as a family bereavement. This is not the same as a hysterical 12 year old girl being upset because her favourite boy band have just broken up. Bolan created a unique style of music, a cache of songs and a sound that enriched the soul of those who could appreciate it, and his sudden exit from this world left it a less vibrant and colourful place. Read the rest of this entry

Cosmic Dancer: Bolan lives every time we hear his music

GREETINGS fellow Bolan admirers and welcome too, to those of you who may be curious as to why the diminutive Mr Feld retains a fascination for connoisseurs of quality rock music more than three decades after his untimely death.

This site, together with the Cosmic Dancer Facebook page,  is not simply a source of information and a place to post feedback on the book, unpublished photos and other items you might have unearthed, but will also serve as a place to share anything Bolan related. Maybe some of you remember reading my fanzine ‘Cosmic Dancer’ back in ’78, or going to screenings of ‘Born To Boogie’ at the Essential cinema in Soho? Care to share your memories and your thoughts on how much Marc has meant to you, or what you think of recent releases?

By the way, the pix that appear on the Facebook page include two unpublished photos of Marc taken, we think, in ’71 and could not be included in the book because we couldn’t identify or trace the photographer. Thanks to Marc Arscott for allowing us to feature them here. The two young men seen in Bolan T-Shirts recording their debut single in July 1979 are yours truly and his friend Danielz who went on to form tribute band T.Rextasy. Both of us owe an incalculable debt to Marc for inspiring us and speaking for myself, it is only with the publication of ‘Cosmic Dancer’ that I finally feel that I have repaid it.

But first, let me address the subject of why I kept myself out of the book… Read the rest of this entry

New Masque shipment coming soon!

IF YOU tried to order a copy of the new ‘Masque’ reissue before Christmas and were disappointed to hear that they were all sold out, take heart – a new shipment is on its way to these shores from Germany and should be with us this very week.

In the meantime here’s a new review of the reissue in a rough translation from the current issue of Italian magazine ‘Blow Up’ to whet your appetite for the real thing. Read the rest of this entry

Enough processed baby food music!

THOSE of you who have heard ‘Strychnine’, my mini album of cover versions from 1992, might be interested to know that recently a slew of very tasty psychobilly compilations have been issued – including a couple compiled by (the late) Lux and Ivy of The Cramps. (All thanks to the 50 year copyright rule which means that record companies no longer have to pay royalties on recordings from the 1950s).

As well as the original version of ‘Strychnine’ by the Sonics you can find such hidden schlock classics as ‘The Crusher’, ‘The Mummy’, the breathlessly demented ‘She Said’ by Hasil Adkins and ‘She’s My Witch’ all of which should have been included in one of those ‘1000 records you should hear before you die’ books but weren’t. Shame on them. Read the rest of this entry