Best known as front man for Mike + The Mechanics, Paul Carrack has worked with some of the biggest names in music including Elton John, Ringo Starr, and Roger Waters. Away from his collaborations, the Sheffield native is successful solo artist, having recently released ‘These Days’; an album that the multi-instrumentalist describes as “Grown up, with a very organic sound”. We sat down with Paul at Rewind South to talk about the new disc, nerves, and his tenure with Mike Rutherford. Another cup of coffee; Eamon O’Neill.
Hi Mike, how are today?
I’m pretty good, thank you very much. I’m a little excited, a little nervous, and ready to go.
You’ve an early slot today; are you nervous because you’re going on in the daylight?
Ah, no. Sometimes you’re nervous, sometimes you’re not. I mean, it’s a nice big crowd. I’ll be fine as soon as I get on there. It’s just the beginning bit.
You’ve got so many hits, that you must know that the audience at a festival like Rewind are going to love your set.
Well, we hope so. We do, certainly, a good few solid hits. We might slip a couple of others in. It’s a thirty-five minute set, we’ve got. But, no, we’ll be doing some of the hits that I’ve done with various bands over the years.
You’re most well-known from your time with Mike + The Mechanics, but you’ve also had a successful solo career; is it difficult to balance that?
It’s not, normally, but this is predominantly an 80s’ get together, so we’re very mindful of that. We have a new album coming out in September, but we’re not going to be heavily promoting that. We’ll probably slip one song in there from the new album.
Well you’ve got to, haven’t you?
I think so. I mean, in our normal set, we include some of it. We include the hits but, we do new stuff, and stuff from my whole career. But we like to give people what they want, and what we think they want to hear; the stuff they can sing along with.
Andrew Roachford is on the bill also today, who has stepped into your old job fronting The Mechanics.
I haven’t seen him yet. I doubt if there’ll be a fistfight. He’s probably more agile and fit than I am, I think. No, I’m a big fan; he’s a good lad.
What’s it like to be on the outside of Mike + The Mechanics now?
It’s good. I’m quite happy being my own man. I like to be my own man. I enjoy my time. We had some success and some fun, but you know, you can’t do everything, and I really felt it was time that I really started standing on my own two feet.
Were you surprised at the huge success of Mike + The Mechanics, given that it started as a side project for Genesis’s Mike Rutherford?
I think we were all surprised. You never know, but at the same time we felt it was very strong; you know, it was quite commercial, they were short pop songs rather than the [more intricate] Genesis stuff, it wasn’t so deep as that; it was a bit more fun. But, it was a pleasant surprise, put it that way.
‘The Living Years’ for example, is a song that has struck a deeper resonance, taking on a life of its own.
Yeah. Well, I do feel that I’m entitled to sing that song at my own shows because I sang the original, and it’s a song that means a lot to me. Funnily enough, when we first did it, Mike was a bit in two minds about the success of it, because we started to attract a lot of older people at that point, and I think he still felt like he still wanted to be a rock star! So, it was a double-edged sword, but I think it’s a good song, and I enjoy singing it.
Did the success sit easily with Mike Rutherford?
I think it sat easily with Mike, but the thing was, Phil [Collins] was so successful at that time [in the mid to late 1980s], he was on top of the world, and I think Mike needed something else to do. So, that’s why he put The Mechanics together, and it was fun. But Genesis was always his priority, and the Mechanics was always his side issue.
Looking forward, what’s happening for you?
I’ve got a new album out on September 7th, and I believe it’s really good. It’s a grown-up album. It’s not like The Mechanics at all. It’s a very organic sound, it’s all played stuff, it’s quite mellow, I guess. I’ve got some incredible players on there, people like Steve Gadd on the drums, and Robbie McIntosh on guitar. I think it’ll be tough to get it on the mainstream radio, but it’s an album I’m proud of.
With the success you’ve had, you’ve clearly got nothing to prove these days.
You’ve always got something to prove, I think. I’ve never felt, ever; “That’s it, I’ve cracked it, I can just coast”; that’s why I’m a little nervous today; only because I always want to do my best.
So you’re happy being a solo artist these days?
Very much so. In a way, I wish I’d done it earlier, but as I say, I enjoyed my time with Mike. But you can’t have everything. There’s only so much time.
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Paul Carrack’s ‘These Days’ is available now. To order, visit Paul’s OFFICIAL WEBSTORE.