PAUL JAMES BERRY - Biography:
Bubblegum Slut/ UK: « A paradoxical mix of a Yorkshire man’s Northern bluntness that tells it like it is and a “continental poetic tongue which educates and stirs…! » -
Stylusmag/ Canada: « Berry has a keen intellect, a disdain for those buffered from reality, and an internalized anger that fuels the vitriol in every adjective. It is real life undecorated, and smoulders like the everyday pressures. This is fucking brilliant. Clean glass please, and leave the bottle! »
With the aid of an acoustic guitar or piano he sits centre-stage and recounts with his powerful seducing voice the tales of his life on the back streets of Leeds/England, his touring years through to his crippling road accident in Brighton/ England which still leaves him limping around with a walking stick or foot splint.....
In the 80s he was the guitarist & founding member to the successful Rock/Goth band, The Rose of Avalanche, which produced many great albums and singles. Eventually enough was enough and he broke up the band in the 90s and embarked on a solo career under his own name. He played in every possible venue in the UK and Europe and even a trip ot two across the pond.
The RoA have recently reformed with all original members and Paul is delighted to find kinship with his old mates from Leeds!!
4 solo albums later (PJB, Ginnel ,Nations and Spitfire Juukebox1) which saw him support giants of the songwriting genre such as Frank Black, Vic Chestnutt, The Cranberries, Kevin Coyne, David Bowie, Howe Gelb, Townes Van Zandt, etc.
After rehabilitating from his accident, he has a new album ‘Spitfire Jukebox 1’ released on him own independent label EggTéte Records. It’s mainly one instrument and voice that gives a beautiful raw insight to the human soul. It reveals a personal account of the last few years and touches on a cathartic necessity to get through the nightmare of his road accident to the celebration of life itself.
Recorded in Berlin in the vast hall of the famous UFO-Studios, an old brewery which doubled-up as a bunker in the second world war.
«when I arrived at the studio in Berlin, there was this colossal old hall that just had ‘something’ that moved me. So, I said to the man, get me a chair, put it in the middle of the hall and record me bleeding….»
«the whole point of this album was to be in control and do everything myself - for good or bad - just me and my demons». Paul James Berry
INTERVIEW: (with James Parton):
Q: First things first. How are you doing after your terrible accident?
A: I died and then came back....... I’ve been trying to heal and piece together my life ever since..... It’s been a long long road. I still don’t have any external feeling to my left leg and the foot basically just hangs there. However, I’m out of the wheelchair and get about OK with a walking stick. The jury’s out as to whether I’ll ever walk ‘properly’ again. Kids call me Dr House.......
Q: For the people reading this that may be in the dark, can you tell us what happened with your accident?
A: Yeah, I was riding a bicycle and a 32-tonne lorry turned left into me while I circum-navigating a particular notorious roundabout called The Seven Dials in Brighton, England. The result was my legs were crushed......
Q: Aside form the gruelling physical therapy; I guess you have had to be incredibly mentally strong to get through such a terrible ordeal?
A: An Interesting question! I’ve got a young family and the idea of ‘giving-up’ never was an option. I spent the first three weeks in Intensive Care, then I think nine weeks on the trauma ward. I was later on told that I actually lost 5 times my body’s blood capacity, had operation after operation, told twice that it was all over blah blah blah. ICU were absolutely brilliant. The Trauma ward was a scary scary place..... We are the best in the world at saving lives, but rehabilitation? NHS doesn’t do gruelling physio, it’s more, ‘you’ve stopped bleeding, next please, we need the bed......... It was a real hard time.
Q: Have you come out the other side with a new lust for life?
A: When I hear your question I think, how corny and pathetic it sounds! However, in reality - YES, it’s true! I really do have a lust for life and a deep belief and need to document and move on....... However, let’s be clear I don’t seek sympathy for being disabled. I seek a new chapter and a new challenge……..
Q: Can you say something about the famous UFO-Studios in Berlin and the recording process for your new album?
A: Well, I came across the studio a few years back while on tour and truthfully fell in love with the place, especially with the hall. I guess I’m quite sensitive to the vibes from certain buildings. For example, this place was an ancient brewery and the cellars doubled-up as a bunker in WW2, reputedly Gobbles and his family used it. The engineer took me round the place with a torch, it was really creepy and fascinating at the same time……
So earlier this year I booked a session, squatted in the middle of their great hall surrounded by microphones and recorded my songs. Just me singing and playing guitar, piano even a couple of songs on ukulele. All live no overdubs, except a guy that plays a phenomenal cello on a song and my dog that on backing vocals…..
Q: Now that the album is recorded what are your plans?
A: Sell the fucking thing and move on. Although I’ve recorded albums before this is really the first time that I’ve been 100% in control. Not just the songs & performance, but also the mixing, artwork, promotion and the release. Everything! Of course this gives financial limitations to my ambitions, but it’s rewarding at the same time, a real learning curve. So I would like to find some cool partners across the world that share my vision and push it to the next level….
The next level is ‘Spitfire Jukebox 2’ which I want to be a bigger scenario, in colour - ha ha!! I’d like to work with more musicians, which I think would really push some song ideas I have to a completely different depth.