Interview HENRY PAUL June 2016
by Philippe Archambeau, translation of the questions : Y. Philippot-Degand
RTJ : Hello Henry, first thanks for accepting this interview for Road to Jacksonville, webzine dedicated to Southern Rock in French and in English, the only one in the world,
RTJ : Can you tell us where you come from ? And how did you begin the music in your family ?
HENRY PAUL : I was born in Kingston NY and moved to Lakeland, Florida while in 3rd grade in 1957. I’m the first person in our family to make a career in music.
RTJ : What were your musical influences ?
HENRY PAUL : Bob Dylan, The Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds, Gordon Lightfoot, and the Allman Brothers Band
RTJ : I'd like to come back in the early stages of the Outlaws, how did the band set up ?
HENRY PAUL : I had a group called Sienna and Monte Yoho, was the drummer. He introduced me to his bass player friend Frank O'Keefe who joined the group when original Sienna bassist Sean Emmet left to move back to N.Y.C. At that point there were three of the five original Outlaws playing together. When Jim Fish decided he wanted to leave the group Monte and Frank introduced me to Hughie Thomasson who had just moved back from NYC and was looking for a gig. Hughie joined the group and now there are four of the five original Outlaws together in a group called Sienna. We changed the name of the band to the Outlaws about eight months later and Billy Jones moved back from Colorado in late 1973 which completed the original line up. From there we worked our way up from a local band to a regional group and eventually got a record deal with Arista and recorded our first album in the spring of "75".
RTJ : Your first concert in video is Houston 1977, do you remember this gig ?
HENRY PAUL : I really don’t know anything about a video shot in Houston in 77.
RTJ : Do you think that a video from that time released in DVD could be available one day ?
I also take advantage of the opportunity to ask you if the Live at Roxy of the Henry Paul Band, of which a VHS version exists, will be released in DVD?
HENRY PAUL : Not that I know of…
RTJ : Before talking about the Outlaws, I'd like to come back to the news, the Henry Paul Band played again for two dates in December 2015, can you tell us who was present ?
HENRY PAUL : Jim Fish, Billy Crain, Wally Dentz, Bill Hoffman and myself. Barry Rapp could not make the date due to prior commitments.
RTJ : What were the songs played during this concert ?
HENRY PAUL : The entire Grey Ghost album.
RTJ : Do you think that you'll play again with the band to release a live record or a DVD ?
HENRY PAUL : I’d like to see the band do more dates but scheduling is hard due to individual commitments.
RTJ : Let's talk a while about the gear, what are the guitars you played during your carreer?
HENRY PAUL : I’ve played a Gibson 330, Gibson 335, Rickenbaker 370, Gretsch White Falcon, Martin D-28, and Gibson J-200’s
RTJ : Which one do you prefer?
HENRY PAUL : I think the Gretsch White Falcon, and the Gibson J-200’s are my favorites.
RTJ : You are at ease with the country-rock rhythmics but was it so easy on typically « Southern rock » tunes like "Stick Around For Rock'n'roll" ou "Lover Boy"?
HENRY PAUL : It’s all 4/4 time and their rhythm figures are very similar.
RTJ : Regarding the great period of the Outlaws, what are your best and worst memories?
HENRY PAUL : The release of the first album was a magical time for us. Success seemed to breed new problems and things got much more complicated.
RTJ : You leaved and returned to the Outlaws many times (1977, 1986, 2005). Can you explain to us the reasons of those successive departures ? Was it personal decisions ?
HENRY PAUL : With the exception of the 05 departure, I never left the Outlaws by choice. At no time did I ever leave due to a lack of commitment to the group.
RTJ : With which band were you the most successful (Outlaws, Henry Paul Band, Blackhawk)?
HENRY PAUL : I think as a brand the Outlaws had a large impact when they first came out. The band’s first album and “Live” record sold records at a gold level. Remember that was 40 plus years ago so the legacy has had time to fully develop. The Henry Paul shared much of the same audience as the Outlaws but had it’s own unique musical character. Blackhawk was by far the most commercially successful musical entity selling in the multi-platinum level. All three had an individual impact for their time.
RTJ : What are your memories regarding the Henry Paul Band period? Was already the Southern rock outdated at that time (1979)?
HENRY PAUL : The popularity of southern rock was definitely on it’s way out by 1979. Remember the Skynyrd plane crash cut that band’s life short as did the death of Tommy Caldwell in the MTB. The advent of MTV brought on a more visual style of musical presentation.
RTJ : What can you tell about Billy Jones and Frank O' Keefe's personalities? Did you stay in touch with them ?
HENRY PAUL : Billy’s addition to the group in 1973 completed the line up and added the missing ingredients for our ultimate success. He was a very complicated man but possessed a beautiful musical personality. Frank was an incredible musician and a great guy to hang out with.
RTJ : Did you learn some clarifications about Billy Jones' suicide?
HENRY PAUL : Something as personal as this subject is nothing that I would ever discuss.
RTJ : Can you clarify the polemic about "Green Grass And High Tides"? According to you, who would have written it?
HENRY PAUL : While I’ve heard stories as to the song’s lyrical history all I really know is that the version we recorded on the first album was an arrangement developed over years of playing the song in clubs.
RTJ : Your voice doesn't seem to have suffered during all those years. What is your secret (training, miracle drug, honey) ?
HENRY PAUL : I’m lucky that way….Just genetics I suppose.
RTJ : The Outlaws are the last Southern rock band in activity playing at the same level than in the 70’s, how do you explain it ?
HENRY PAUL : We work very hard to keep our level of play consistent to that of the band from the early 70’s.
RTJ : Can you tell us more about the time you came back in the Outlaws ? How was it with Hughie, a return to your roots ?
HENRY PAUL : Hughie and I always had fun playing together and shared many common musical goals.
RTJ : David Dix joined you not a long ago as second drummer, can you tell us what it brings to the band to play with two drummers like the Allman Bros ?
HENRY PAUL : Dave and Monte grew up together and have had a very close relationship both musically and personally. This a situation came out of circumstances lining up so that we could invite Dave back into the band.
RTJ : The Outlaws has two great guitarists with Billy Crain and Steve Grisham back, can you tell us more about them ?
HENRY PAUL : Steve played in the Outlaws from 83 to 86. He recorded the “Soldiers Of Fortune” album with us. Billy and I played in the Henry Paul Band together and the invitation for him to join the Oulaws in 2007 was at the right time in his life. Chris Anderson took Steve’s place in 86 and left when I did in 89.
He also came back to the group in 05.
RTJ : Will you prepare a new record ? Have you some compositions to one side ?
HENRY PAUL : We’re working on a new studio album and are set to release a double live album early this summer.
RTJ : Have you some news concerning the release in CD of Once An Outlaw, the last record of Hughie Thomasson ?
HENRY PAUL : I really have no knowledge of what is to become of that record. Obviously for Hughie’s sake we hope it finds the true light of day and as we’ve said all along we’d support it in any way possible. As you probably know the current members of the band played on that album as well and have a personal stake in its release.
RTJ : What are your musical solo projects? An acoustic album ?
HENRY PAUL : I’m getting ready to start a new Blackhawk Christmas record.
RTJ : Blackhawk carry on its way, what is the difference with the Outlaws ?
HENRY PAUL : I’m not sure I understand the question but Blackhawk continues to record new music and tour aggressively as well.
RTJ : The Southern rock has hard time finding a new driving force, do you think that Blackberry Smoke can be this one ? Did you meet them ?
HENRY PAUL : I’ve met them many years ago and I’m excited to see them find success. This is their time and I’m sure they’re enjoying the recognition for their work.
RTJ : Last and traditional question here, if you have to stay on a desert island, what are the five records that you would take with you ?
HENRY PAUL : Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited, Dylan’s Bringing it All back Home, Turn Turn Turn by the Byrds, Retrospective by the Buffalo Springfield, and The Allman Brother’s Idlewild South