Noise Annoys: Mansun man Paul Draper back on the attack
This week, Noise Annoys brings you an interview with ex-Mansun frontman Paul Draper ahead of his imminent solo shows in Dublin and Belfast
FORMER Mansun frontman Paul Draper reveals it was a mere quirk of fate that saved his long-awaited debut solo album Spooky Action from being accidentally erased.
The Liverpool-born singer explains that, at one point, his sound engineer Ben accidentally took the fledgling album recordings home thinking they were blank DVDs.
"It's just lucky we had those demos on DVD-Rs that were not a rewriteable format – otherwise they would have ended up as Ben’s recording of Arsenal on Match of The Day," chuckles Draper, who led Chester's premier/only progressive indie rockers Mansun, who enjoyed a slew of Top 20 chart success between 1995 and 2000 before splitting in 2003.
"If anyone wants to ask him any more about that, he’s now in my band as our guitarist," adds Draper.
Spooky Action finally emerged to rave reviews and Top 20 chart success last year. In fact, the response was so strong that the singer/guitarist's label, Kscope, have also decided to embark on a major Mansun reissue campaign which will include new deluxe versions of their much-loved 1997 debut LP Attack of The Grey Lantern – featuring classic single Wide Open Space – and the brilliantly bonkers concept album, Six, which followed in 1998.
Indeed, Mansun fans will also be in their element during Draper's current tour, which finds him performing a set of solo material followed by Attack from start to finish.
"This will be the first time that we’ll be playing Attack of the Grey Lantern in its entirety, which we didn’t even manage back in the day," he confirms.
Draper and his band hit Dublin's Workman's Club on February 23 and Belfast's Limelight 2 the following night – the latter date just a week shy of 20 years on from when Mansun made their Belfast debut at the same venue (back when it was the one and only Limelight) on the original Attack of The Grey Lantern tour.
While the former Mansun leader is wary of being viewed as a nostalgia act, he does admit that the decision to perform and write again after years of working on the production side of things (including helming records for Skunk Anansie's Skin and The Anchoress) was in part inspired by fan devotion.
Draper says he owes a debt of gratitude to those Mansunites who have carried the legacy of his old band. For example, there have been several Mansun conventions in recent years which helped ensure their music remained in public consciousness.
"I’ve so enjoyed being out doing the live shows again, it’s been quite an adventure," he enthuses of reconnecting with his fanbase.
"I’m just pleased that fans have seen the new material as a continuation of what we achieved with Mansun."
However, Draper concedes a sense of frustration over the band's acrimonious demise during the recording of their fourth album, Kleptomania, in 2003, which became Mansun's swansong when it finally gained a belated release by Parlophone Records the following year following fan pressure – despite being unfinished at the time of their split.
"It's more likely the Beatles would get back together in their original line-up than Mansun," he jokes.
Despite the Chester band’s eventual implosion, it was preceded by some notable highs, including meeting Prince while touring in the US and supporting another late musical legend, David Bowie.
"I’ve always been a Bowie fan," he enthuses. "It was great to be able to support him on his tour of Italy back in '97. One night he came backstage to our dressing room. He was chain-smoking cigarettes and telling us how much he liked our music.
"He insisted we just call him 'Dave' – he was very disarming, and the consummate performer. It didn’t get much cooler than being able to hang out with him."
As for his latest band line-up, he enthuses it’s far more complex than it was first time around, with keyboards adding to depth of their sound. They've also raided the EMI archives to access sound effects used on Mansun's early recordings.
"It’s been a long while since I’ve played the songs from the debut Mansun album," he muses. "I think certain records stand the test of time – and this one has done."
While Draper admits that being on an independent label has meant that the sustained promotion afforded to the likes of Ed Sheeran will never be possible, he's happy enough with his situation.
"What’s been happening the past few months has taken me into a whole new world – the response to the new album has been much bigger than I’d thought," he enthuses.
Indeed, being able to pursue music on his own terms is something that Draper values, and he speaks with real hope about future shows and recordings: "We're putting out a live album based on the London show last year at the Scala, which is taking up all my time right now,” the ex-Mansun man admits, referring to his new release Live At The Scala, which will be available exclusively on the current tour.
Buoyed by a fresh sense of momentum, Draper also enthuses that he’s already penned several tracks for the follow-up to Spooky Action – and a new EP is due out next month.
But is there anything he would add to his list of musical ambitions for the future?
"I think, to be honest, I would be fine just being a jobbing version of me," says the singer/guitarist. "I’m happy just doing what I’m doing right now."
You just can't keep a good Mansun man down.
Paul Draper plays Dublin's Workman's Club on February 23 and Belfast's Limelight 2 on February 24. Tickets available via Ticketmaster outlets. Spooky Action is out now.
GIRLS ROCK SCHOOL NI – EASTER ROCK CAMP
DO YOU know a young woman who might want to have a crack at forming a band, writing a song and performing live on stage over the Easter holidays?
If so, get hold of them and make sure they know that applications for Girls Rock School NI's Easter Rock Camp are now open to budding female musos aged between 11 and 14.
The three-day camp will run from Wednesday April 4 to Friday April 6 at Oh Yeah in Belfast and offers girls the chance to learn the basics of a musical instrument, playing in a band and writing and performing a song – no previous musical experience is needed at all.
The camp ends in a final showcase concert where the participants will perform with their bands at a live gig at Oh Yeah.