Paul Carella, the Scottish-based singer-songwriter is known for his own interpretation of American folk and country and brings his own individual sound to the genre, enriching it with traditional influences and classic inspirations. He has performed on several tours throughout Europe and the U.K. in the past few years, connecting with Jason Manns and sharing the stage with him and appearing at the Rockwood Music Festival.
Prior to his concert in Cologne, Paul (and Jason Manns who makes a guest appearance) took some time to sit down with me and answer some questions about his music, his career and future plans.
Nerds & Beyond: Since this is your first interview with us, how would you introduce yourself and your music to people who haven’t seen or heard you perform before?
Paul Carella: I usually just let people see what my music is and never really put a label on it. But if I had to, it’d be “Americana”, a fusion of rock with country, so areas a lot of people have a connection to or are into. If I had to describe myself? Happy.
Jason Manns (helpfully providing another opinion): Dead Sexy. No, that was, that definitely was Paul Carella.
Nerds & Beyond: You’ve just started the German leg of your tour with Jason – can you share a favourite or funny moment of your tour so far?
Paul: A favourite moment for me was after we played Studio Two in Liverpool, which is this world-famous recording studio and the guys took us down to see the studio. It’s where Black Sabbath recorded and Coldplay recorded their first two albums there, Justin Bieber was there –
Nerds & Beyond: Who is a big inspiration, probably.
Paul: Yes, especially the dance moves. So that for me was the favourite moment of the tour, seeing the history, walking in those footsteps of these guys. And the venue was incredible too.
Nerds & Beyond: What are your favourite parts about live performances?
Paul: The interaction with the audience! You never know how they’re gonna react and every crowd is different, so that’s always something to look forward to. Seeing how your music affects the crowd and having that banter with them.
Nerds & Beyond: Can you name some of your musical inspirations and influences?
Paul: Definitely Bruce Springsteen, he’s my number one. Glen Hansard, too, he’s an Irish singer-songwriter. My early influences were along the lines of Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan – Hansard and Springsteen are more recent influences, too. Some people can definitely see that in my music and that’s a big compliment.
Nerds & Beyond: What was your first concert and what do you remember about it?
Paul: The first concert I went to was Eminem and it was an incredible concert, a sold-out stadium in Glasgow and my two memories from it are that I met a girl I went to school with in that crowd of like 40,000 people, which I just thought was a crazy coincidence and I remember the smell of weed in the crowd, it was so strong. And 50 Cent was supposed to open for him, but he had to cancel. The show was still incredible.
Jason: Want to know my first one? Alan Jackson. I was probably 16, 17.
Nerds & Beyond: What made you decide to become a musician and when did you start playing music?
Paul: That kind of happened by accident, because I got my first guitar when I was like 16, 17. And I was playing Guns n’ Roses, rock songs with really high voices and I remember my Dad telling me in my bedroom that I had a low tone to my voice and I should look into things like Leonard Cohen, and I was like, “Whatever, Dad, you don’t know anything,” as you do as a teenager. Then I stumbled upon Johnny Cash who sang Folsom Prison [Blues] and had these low notes, and I was like, “Woah!” and from that moment I could write songs! I had tried to write previous to that and just couldn’t come up with anything, but as soon as I kind of found that country sound, the writing came with the sound.
Nerds & Beyond: Your music and the way you sing are very close to American folk/country/blues – would you ever consider writing or performing more traditional Scottish music?
Paul: I think so! There are a couple of songs I sing in a Scottish accent, like “Caledonia” and people seem to really like it when I do that, and it may sound strange, but it’s a conscious effort for me to sing in a Scottish accent. That may sound crazy, but it’s natural for me to sing in an American accent. If people hear me sing before they hear me talk, they think I’m from Texas, which is cool. And yes, I think it’d be quite nice to go into a more traditional direction in the future.
Nerds & Beyond: You’ve just started Gallus productions, your own production and events company, can you tell us a little about that?
Paul: Jason and I put it together and I actually really enjoy the organizational side of events, finding the venues, planning a route and putting all that together. It’s like figuring out and putting together a jigsaw and when it’s done, you can admire it. And we did it to get some avenue in the U.K. I enjoy the planning side just as much as the performing side. Currently we have no immediate plans, but in the future we hope to bring artists here who don’t really get to go to the U.K. or Europe.
Nerds & Beyond: You’ve gone on tour with Jason, as well as performed with different artists over the past years. What do you enjoy about collaborating with other musicians?
Paul: Working with other musicians tests you, it makes you grow. Especially when I think of the jam sessions [at Rockwood Music Festival], you’re put on the spot and need to think on your feet. You do something and then go, “Wow, I didn’t think I could do that!” Writing with other musicians – because I don’t do it that much – is interesting for me, because when you write something, it’s your baby. So when you get input it’s a bit weird at first, but I’m steadily getting used to that.
Nerds & Beyond: Can you talk about your latest album and the concept and ideas that inspired it?
Paul: Bruce Springsteen did an album called “Nebraska” and he recorded it on a Teac Tascam 144 four-track cassette recorder in the 80’s. It’s just his vocals and his guitar and some harmonica and it’s my favourite of his albums, so I wanted to recreate that. I bought the exact same unit, except it’s digital and I recorded it in the exact same process that Springsteen used for “Nebraska”. Also it’s the first album I recorded, mixed and produced all by myself, which I was really nervous about. I was wondering how it was going to be received, but I’ve had great feedback and I’m really proud of it.
Nerds & Beyond: What is your favourite song to perform live?
Paul: At the moment it’s “I Tried” from the current album, it just has a nice sound to it.
Nerds & Beyond: Recently you’ve gone into acting. Can you share something about why and how you’ve chosen to do that?
Paul: I used to do it a long time ago, in my early 20’s. My brother used to write plays and things, so I would act in his plays and in school. And when I lived in London I used to perform in musicals. I haven’t done it in 5 or 6 years, but then I felt I wanted to get back into it, so I got an agent and started going to auditions. It’s been working out really well.
Nerds & Beyond: Any exciting upcoming projects?
Paul: There’s two TV shows coming out. My roles are small. One is called “The Victim” and the other is “Trust Me”. I have these coming out and a couple of commercials soon and I have some auditions coming up, so fingers crossed there is more coming in the future.
Nerds & Beyond: What are your future plans for your company and your music?
Paul: I’m working on new material for a new album and for the company we’re just working on new tours.
Jason: He’s going to fire his partner and really take off (both laugh).
Nerds & Beyond: Since we always ask some “nerdy” questions, and since your nickname is Captain Scotland what would your superpower be?
Paul: I’d love to be able to stop time.
Jason: I think your superpower would be singing a note that’s so low, everything vibrates and that makes you win the fight.
Nerds & Beyond: Who is your favourite superhero?
Paul: Batman. Ever since I was a kid, as far as I can remember, Batman was my dude. I had the toys, the cars, the costume, bedsheets, the lot.
Nerds & Beyond: What do you get “nerdy” about?
Paul: Golf. And equipment. When a new set of equipment comes out. I practice every week, sometimes up to four times a week.
Nerds & Beyond: What’s your Hogwarts house?
Paul: A what?
Nerds & Beyond: Okay, we’re leaving.
Paul: (laughs) Oh okay, a favourite one? The one Malfoy is in. Slytherin.
Jason: I think you’re probably Slytherin-curious.
Nerds & Beyond: Do you play video games? What are your favourites?
Paul: I play “Resident Evil”. They’ve just remastered “Resident Evil 2”, which I haven’t gotten yet, but I’m excited to play when I have the time.
Nerds & Beyond: Anything else you would like to share?
Paul: Keep an eye on my social media as I have new stuff coming out soon, within the next year. Also keep an eye out on the TV things and thanks for all the support and letting us guys do this thing, we love sharing our music with you guys and appreciate you for coming out to support us.
Thank you Paul for your time and this interview! You can visit Paul’s website here to learn more about him, the tour, and where to hear his music!