EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Paul Draper talks new solo tour, beards + Mansun reissues

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Paul Draper talks new solo tour, beards + Mansun reissues

Following the success of his debut solo record Spooky Action, which entered at No 19 in the UK album charts on release in August. Paul Draper took to the road for the first time in years to perform his first solo live dates – shows that sold out within days of going on sale – Now Paul has announced a second solo tour. The gigs take place across the country February/March 2018. Mark Millar caught up with Paul to find out what he's going to be up to between now and the shows.



Now the dust has settled how are you feeling about the brilliant response to tour debut solo album Spooky Action?

I was really pleased that we got pretty good reviews in most places and we got into the top 20 in the UK which is phenomenal because I'm on a small independent record label. We got to number 4 in the vinyl chart and 3 in the independent chart so my record company Kscope was doing backflips. In reality what that means is there is a good chance I can roll on and do a second solo album now. I'm not competing in the big pop world so it’s a different measure of success now that I’m an independent artist. The album was successful then we went and done the tour and I was scared that I wouldn't be able to sing and wouldn't be able to perform but we did it and it was great that people knew all the lyrics to the album and the EP tracks as well. I threw 3 Mansun tracks into the set and the fans seemed to like them and the new stuff. The Mansun songs will always be a part of me. I went to see Paul Weller at Wembley Arena a while back and he's still playing Eton Rifles and He's still a current artist. I want to keep moving forwards making new music as a current artist and I know I can always pick from the body of Mansun work to throw into the shows. But overall I really can't complain about the launch of the album.

How did you celebrate the success of the album?

I went to the pub with my guitarist and we had a few jars to celebrate, nothing massive.

You sold out of the box sets any plans to put out more?

No, as far as I know. If we'd have done double the amount of the box sets we would have sold them and we probably would have ended up at 6 or 7 in the charts, but we didn't. I'm on an independent label and we just didn't realise what the demand was going to be. We did a 3 CD set with all the outtakes and a mix in 5.1 stereo surround, so we will know for the next album. There is still a real interest and collectability with stuff connected to Mansun or me. The vinyl sold incredibly well and the box set did well. I think we will up our game next time because there is certainly the demand out there to be a top ten artist again. It was a similar thing with the gigs they all sold out and if we had known we could have done bigger gigs. I have been really lucky that it’s been successful so far.

Because of the success of Spooky action and your EP’s isn’t it about time that the Mansun back catalogue was reissued on vinyl?

Yes! There has been a lot of legal wrangling over the years. There was obviously the band split and all the legal things going on there and record company takeovers. It’s been a push and pull and a tug of war to get control of the Mansun catalogue and that’s finally been resolved literally in the last 6 weeks. Because my first solo tour went well I’m going to do a much bigger tour next year on the 19th of February and I think the 21st anniversary of Attack of the Grey Lantern‘s release is the 14th of February so we are desperately trying to pull all that together now and start the ball rolling on the reissues of the records because the fans are paying something like £160 for the vinyl and it’s just not on. So obviously there will be a very significant release of vinyl reissues plus the box sets. We have got hours and hours of outtakes and we are going to mix the record in 5.1 stereo surround and we’ve got a film and concert video.

There’s a real big curation job for me to do with that catalogue going forward now, so we are moving pretty fast to try and get that ready for the 21st anniversary. My tour is on sale now and I always thought if we get the catalogue and we could release it then I would do a set of my solo stuff then have an interval and come back and do half an hour of tracks from Attack of the Grey Lantern for its 21st anniversary but things have gone beyond that now where I have actually put a poll on Facebook and asked fans what album they want me to play. At the moment it's neck and neck between Six and Attack of the Grey Lantern. If it all works out it will be a great tour. My record company Kscope’s first plan is to reissue Mansun’s first EP ONE with 4 tracks on it and the hidden track on 12-inch vinyl I think that going to come out before Christmas. I'm not too heavily involved in that but I'm fully supportive of the record company doing it. There has been a real demand for those EP's and I think they will be beautiful on 12-inch vinyl. They sent me the music the other day and id not listened to it for 20 years and I really enjoyed listening to the B sides and a hidden track. I think the fans will really appreciate that. That will be the first thing this year and then hopefully if we get it in time then the Attack of the Grey Lantern reissue is coming in a big way around the time of my tour.

I’m sure Mansun fans would love the Dead Flowers Reject songs to be released as an album in its own right when Six is being reissued.

Its the 20th anniversary of Six next September and there's a lot of stuff we will be doing then. We have got all the B sides from those sessions and as all Mansun fans will know I have always wanted to put that together as an album in itself and that's one of the boxes to be ticked.

Is it possible that some ex Mansun members could join you for some of the shows?

Without giving too much away I think a member might rear his ugly head at 1 or 2 of the shows but I can't say any more than that. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone but you never know.

You held back on some Spooky Action songs on the last tour was it because they weren’t ready to play live or are you saving them for the bigger tour next year?

No, it was simply to keep the set all up-tempo. Of the slower songs from the album, the only song I did was Things People Want because that was a single. We didn't do Jealousy is a Powerful Emotion, You Don't Really Know Someone, or The Inner Wheel so we didn't do those 3 slow ones and we didn't do You Can’t Get Fairer than that and I Feel Like I Want To to Stay. We felt that they weren't the fans favourites. On the next tour, we will add more songs from the album. It's going to be a different main set with no Mansun stuff in it. It’s going to be a combination of the album and some of the EP tracks that went down well on the last tour such as No Ideas and The Silence is Deafening and I’m currently working on EP THREE which we are looking to come out around April next year so there will be a single on radio which we will play and then after the intermission we will just play Mansun stuff. It will be much defined between my solo album and playing the Mansun album of the fans choice.

When you are performing the Mansun album will it be stripped down or will it be the full album experience?

Some of the gigs are pretty big and for me, as a solo artist it ’s only my second tour and with some of the venues holding one and half thousand people and some of the venues are smaller like The Limelight in Belfast is smaller so we’re not going to be having an orchestra with us there. But instead of doing the punk rock recreations like we used to do, with the technology and musicianship of being able to use keyboards and sequencers on stage my plan is to get it a lot more accurate to the record. I'm going to try and get them as close as I can. We recorded the Scala show from the Spooky Action tour and we are mulling over at the minute whether we should put that out as a live album.

Will Catherine AD be joining you on next year’s tour?

No, Catherine will be off with Simple Minds but I think we discussed the possibility of her joining up halfway through the tour when she's finished with Simple Minds but that's off the agenda at the moment.

Have you written any new songs since the release of Spooky Action?

Yes, there was a few songs floating around that we didn't finish for Spooky Action that got to a certain place or abandonment for one reason or another but I'm back writing again. I didn't start writing until I came back from tour about 2 weeks ago, so I'm back in my studio trying to put little skeletons of demos together with the idea of EP THREE next April time with a brand new single and some B sides and maybe an acoustic version of an album track, so that's the plan. We have got a lot of work on, put it this way I'm not going on holiday (Laughs).

Have you any song titles you can let us know about?

There is one I have been working on for the last 48 hours and you could tell the title to anybody and they could tell that I wrote the song it's called Everybody Becomes a Problem Eventually, You could probably call my autobiography that (Laughs). Whether it will be the next single or if it will appear on the EP I don’t know but I’m sure it will appear somewhere.

It has been a topic of discussion for your fans so can you let them know if you are keeping your beard for the next tour?

The beard is off today actually. I did Needle Time with Neil McCormick for Vintage TV which is going out in February. I had my beard then so I trimmed it and it looked quite neat and when I got back from Needle Time and I had a shave. I haven't settled on an image yet (Laughs). I'm still mulling over beard or no beard, If I lose 20lbs I will probably get rid of the beard for the next tour.

It took years for you to put out Spooky Action; will we have to wait a long time for the follow-up?

No I don’t think so, a few people have asked why the show was only an hour and twenty minutes long and to be honest I hadn’t sung for a long time and people were wondering why I was cracking jokes and taking time in between songs and the reason was just to look after my voice. I wanted to make sure I was able to get those gigs done and now I know I can do it. The next tour is going to be a two hour plus show, so coming off the tour it really enthused me so I've gone back into writing really quickly. I had a planning meeting with my manager and record company so within the next 18 months we will drop the next album.


Following his hugely successful sold out September tour, tickets for Paul’s fourteen date UK and Ireland tour in February and March 2018 are on sale now.

Dates and venues are as follows:

Monday 19th February: BRIGHTON, The Haunt

Tuesday 20th February: PORTSMOUTH, Wedgewood Rooms

Wednesday 21st February: BRISTOL, Bierkeller

Friday 23rd February: DUBLIN, The Workman’s Club

Saturday 24th February: BELFAST, Limelight 2

Monday 26th February: EDINBURGH, The Caves

Tuesday 27th February: GLASGOW, The Art School

Thursday 1st March: MANCHESTER, O2 Ritz

Friday 2nd March: SHEFFIELD, The Leadmill

Saturday 3rd March: NEWCASTLE, The Riverside

Monday 5th March: NOTTINGHAM, Rescue Rooms

Tuesday 6th March: NORWICH, The Waterfront

Wednesday 7th March: OXFORD, O2 Academy 2

Thursday 8th March: LONDON, Electric Ballroom

Tickets are available HERE.

Xsnoize Author
Mark Millar is the founder of XS Noize and looks after the daily running of the website as well as hosting interviews for the weekly XS Noize Podcast. Mark's favourite album is Achtung Baby by U2.

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