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A Promise of Light – An Interview with Paul Mallyon

Hi Paul nice to meet you ! The first question is to do with lockdown. What positives have you gained from lockdown?

Well being at home has given me some time away – even if it is only half an hour here and there sometimes- to strum on a guitar, get down some ideas and do some writing, probably much more than I would normally do.

For example, Sanguine Hum, the band I collaborate with, has done a whole album( Trace of Memory) mainly as a result of lockdown. I have also managed to produce quite a lot of material, some of which has now been released and some of which will form part of a forthcoming album.

Tell us about your latest solo project. This is your second album right ?

Yes that’s right . “Coming home” came out in 2014 and now we have “Promise of light”.

Lyrics have never really been my strong point before so I really made a concerted effort to “ buck up my ideas “ in that department. I wanted the lyrics to read well – to make sense and to stand on their own -as well as to fit with the melody .

This time I was starting with a lyric and the lyrics were completed before I started recording, which is something that I had never done before. It meant that the melody and rhythm can change to incorporate a few extra words or syllables to fit around the lyrics. Previously I would have a melody to record and then add the lyrics afterwards.

 This is what I have done differently this time and I feel it has worked very well.

When you listen to music, what do you do first – do you hear melody or do you hear the words?

I think it is melody and chords. I am a drummer but it is not so much rhythm that interests me. Its more the chords and the melody then the words come next.

Tell me about you transition from drummer to singer

I started with the guitar at about the age of 9 then started drumming about a year later. Then I picked up a guitar again at about 14 or 15 and sung from then really. I only really did backing vocals with Sanguine Hum. Drums is my instrument really and I get by on the others!

I think you do a lot more than get by ! What is the situation with Sanguine Hum – are you still a member of the band?

Well I actually left in 2011 and the band is now a three piece with whatever drummer they want to use- which is sometimes me. I play on about 5 tracks on “Trace of Memory “. I think the change in drummer can change the whole sound of a track so having a choice works really well for them.

Drums for me is instant gratification where as writing ( and then performing everything)  is a much longer term deal – a slog almost – that gives me pleasure / satisfaction in a totally different way. I haven’t been able to stop writing since “Promise of Light “ as I constantly try to improve – I always think I can do better!

How can people get hold of your music?

“ Promise of Light “ will be out on spotify, amazon and Apple music in the next week or so. The new Sanguine Hum album is available on cd and vinyl. You can listen now at here Band Camp.

Who are your main influences on your solo writing?

Well I have been told that my solo stuff sounds a bit like XTC. I had never listened to them and now that I have I cannot really hear it! I was really into Jeff Buckley when I started out. Also Tom Petty, ELO, Queen – too many to mention ! I listen to a huge range of stuff , from radio pop to scream metal. I think a good song is a good song. It should  transcend genre and stand on its own two feet.

I noticed with “ Promise of Light “ that there is a huge variety of work on there. Was that a deliberate thing or was it just the way it fell?

It was definitely a deliberate thing. I am quite easily bored so I try to vary key , time and rhythm as well as trying to vary the vocal using different techniques and effects. The title Track “ Promise of Light “ is quite drifty – I really like drifty stuff. There are also slower ballad type songs as well as some more up tempo rocky type songs.

The new album is a bit more prog influenced – odd time changes and so on – probably a bit more influenced by some of the Sanguine Hum ideas.

How far have you got with the next album? Do you have songs and a title yet?

I have 8 songs so far. I think it will be less refurby and drifty than “Promise of Light” I think the new one is drier and more earthy. It has a similar balance of songs but more of a prog influence for sure. There are 4 proggy sons on there and Matt from Sanguine Hum plays keyboards ontwo them.

When I listen to “ Promise of Light “ now there are some songs that I think are weaker and could have been better, where as with the new songs at the moment, I really cannot see a weak one (yet). I think the production is better too. It’s all about trying to improve every time and I hope I have with the new songs.

The proposed name for the album is “Break Through the Wall “ but that is a work in progress title so may change. I would like to get it out later this year so it would be about a year after “ Promise of Light”

Have you got any live plans, however tentative they might be?

Not really at present but I would love to get some very small open mike stuff soon and maybe go out on a very small tour of some kind. I have been gigging live all my life so in order for me to go out live now , there would have to be a real point to it and I would prefer it if it didn’t take me away from my family for too long.

I think commercial success as a result of playing live and getting radio play was something that I used to want and I was maybe  a bit frustrated by not getting more of it, but now I think the music industry emphasises self- promotion and celebrity far more than the music. I am too old to be told what to do my management and record company so I am happy just playing for myself and being in control of what I do and how I do it.

I think the internet is great for people who just like to listen to good music . It has a bad side as well in terms of unequal pay for streaming, but it is positive on the whole. The resurgence of vinyl has also helped people rediscover music.

I like to try and develop every skill so I would definitely continue writing as well as performing.

Paul’s solo music is available digitally here on Spotify or buy from Bandcamp as this is the way most of the money goes straight to the artist. The two solo albums are “Coming Home “ and “ Promise of Light “. Sanguine Hum’s albums are still available on cd and possibly vinyl – certainly “Trace of Memory” should be available on vinyl.

I really recommend some of the Sanguine Hum back catalogue too. “Diving bell” , “ Now we Have Light “ and “ Now we Have Power “ at the very least – the last two being concept albums.
Brownbear interview @ Rock News.

You can check out even more on Paul Mallyon below!


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