Interview: Paul Young, coming to The Brook, Southampton, with Los Pacaminos

Interview: Paul Young, coming to The Brook, Southampton, with Los Pacaminos

words and photos by Peter Nicholson.

Paul Young’s career must be the envy of artists across the world. As well as singing the opening lines on Band Aid’s  single Do They Know it’s Christmas? in 1984 and appearing at the iconic Wembley Stadium Live-Aid concert, he also released three number one albums, received a Brit Award and became a household name. He continues to do what he obviously loves, and is still making music and performing live.

Paul is due to return to Southampton on Friday 11th November with his band, Los Pacaminos. They will be performing at a venue that they love, having played at The Brook on 20 previous occasions!

I saw (and photographed) Paul and the band when they played at Wickham Festival back in the summer. I loved the joy they bought to the stage, as well as the high standard of musicianship, which was obvious across the whole line up of the band. 

I managed to catch up with Paul recently and we chatted about the upcoming gig, his career and, of course, about Los Pacaminos.


All photos:

How would you describe the band Paul?:

“I originally wanted to start a Tex-Mex band to embrace the fusion music which came out of Texas. I wanted to blend the Blues and Rock n Roll, with a Mexican twist, keeping true to the Mexican immigrants who came across the border. We’re now on the third album and I’d started to think we were drifting away from the where we started, but with this album, we’re actually coming back to more of a Tex-Mex sound.”


How did the band start? Was it your idea?:

“Yes it was. I’d grown up listening to so many bands singing about going to Mexico, across the border and escaping from something. It all just had such a romantic sound to it. I started getting really into the music of the country, then the cuisine and then the whole structure of the differences between the North to the South. The music varies so much across the country.”


Did you have a plan of who you wanted to be in the band?

“Well, I was already writing a lot with Drew [Barfield], and Jamie [Moses] was playing guitar on my solo work, so I approached them first. Jamie was also playing in band for Deana Carter, an amazing country artist, and he’d played with Melvin [Duffy]. Jamie asked Melvin along to one of our sessions, and as soon as we heard him playing the slide guitar, he was in the band! He didn’t have much say in it! “


Does this band feel very different to your solo career?

“Absolutely. During my solo career I could move across genres and styles, experimenting, as so many other solo artists can, Peter Gabriel is a good example. But within a band, you have the parameters of the sound that you need to be true to. That’s what I enjoy about the Pacaminos. Sure, we drift a little, but when we do, sometimes we elevate it to something really special. It’s the same as with a cuisine, you can have a peasant dish that’s occasionally elevated to something really special.”



Looking back on your career, would Los Pacaminos be one of the highlights?

“Oh yeah, it definitely is. It was a challenge I took on that was something really different, but I really enjoy it, and we do a damn good job of it!”


You’ve been involved in some amazing collaborations over the decades, how did they come about?

“I was really lucky in that most of the collaborations were because musicians approached me rather than me seeking them out. The duet with Chaka Khan came after I bumped into her, and the work with Zucchero was because we were on similar paths, but in different countries. Each time I’ve done something with someone, it’s rarely been planned, it almost always been happenstance. “


How do you feel the industry has changed over the years?

“I think streaming has hindered music in many ways. It’s almost become too accessible. When you saved the pennies to buy an album, I think it meant so much more. I remember reading every word on the covers of albums I bought. Spotify works well for me because I’ve had enough hits in enough countries that I get a reasonable amount from it, even though I didn’t write many of the hits. So it’s good for artists like me, but it’s not so good for people trying to break through.”


I took a photo of you at a festival last summer where you looked to be completely lost in the moment of the music (main image), do you enjoy playing as much as the photo implies? 

“I saw that photo, it’s one of my favourites. I do feel like that when I play. Tex-Mex music does have a sense of humour about it, as well as talking about love, loss and betrayal, there’s a deep joy in it too. Oh yes, I love playing live as much as I ever did.”



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