It's been two years since Paul Marshall a.k.a Lone Wolf released his acclaimed record The Devil and I. We decided to catch up with him and have a chat about his latest project, The Lovers, an album whose production is being partially funded by fans. Find out about the new record below, as well as Marshall's thoughts on the whole process, and what we can expect from Lone Wolf in the future...
At the time of writing the project is sitting at 64% of the target raised. To find out more and to pledge visit: http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/lonewolf
It's been nearly 2 years since the release of The Devil and I, looking back at it now, how do you feel about the record?
The Devil and I will always be a special record for me. However, my brain seems to work in strict, solid blocks of activity. It almost feels like I was leading a completely different life back then, making music in a completely different way. I certainly look back at it and wish I'd "done this" and hadn't "done that". It was a rather tough and vigorous recording experience, and I felt like I was perhaps putting all of my eggs in one basket, which itself was a rather stressful mindset to be operating under... I guess I never even thought I'd be making another record after it. But generally, I still like the record! It's just a different me.
You've been working on a new record, The Lovers, what's the background to the new record?
If by background you're meaning is it another record about death... Then, no, I had been exercising my need to write murder ballad-esque songs for quite a long period of my life, and I felt like it was time to approach a different subject - the complexity of my/a person's destructive persona. So I wanted to make a record that was a "kind of" concept album.
The idea behind the album is that each song is a different conflict between two or more different personalities within the same head, so the album becomes like a huge lovers tiff... hence the title, "The Lovers". You're hearing the story of a sleepless night within this head. When it's written down like this and I read back over it, I sound like a pretentious idiot, but I've never made any secret that I love writing words, and I'd rather try and tackle something interesting than tell you about how sunny it was today.
Can listeners expect something similar to your previous record, or are there some stylistic shifts?
Well, for a start, this is by no means a folky album. I, as a person, find it very difficult to walk back over the same footprints in the snow I have already made. I'd rather walk a different path. Plus, I don't believe it's a good thing to always do something just because you know you "can". It's a sure fire way of ending up with something that you didn't really want to do. I'd rather take the risk and do something I want to do, and make a collection of different records.
A crucial decision made early on was that there was going to be no acoustic guitar or piano on this album, and I didn't want my guitar playing to be the "main feature", so to speak. Instead, all of the guitar playing is electric, and I used a lot of layered, sleepy synths. I found a hidden desire to be a funk bass player on this record, so expect the bass guitar to be at the forefront quite often.
The percussion on this record is another main feature, and was a lot of fun to create. We (myself, Jon Foulger - producer, and James Kenosha - Engineer/Producer) decided that there would be no real drums on the record, nor any electronic. All of the percussion sounds are organic. Things like slamming doors, scraping sandpaper, hitting oil drums and petrol cans, etc. So yeah, I'd say there were a lot of stylistic shifts, instrumentation wise, but it's still me making this music, so therefore you can expect to hear songs that I write. Don't be afraid...
Did you approach the writing and recording of this record any differently to The Devil & I?
Yes! Extremely differently. One of the things that made The Devil and I such a tough experience is that every single song had a demo to the letter. So much of the studio process was trying to mimic the demos and try to re-capture that magic that had already happened once. So, what I decided to do this time around was use my iPhone to record small sections of guitar parts/synth parts/rhythms etc. that were sometimes as short as 15 seconds long, creating a library of ideas. I then took all of these into the studio and slowly tried to create full songs out of each one there and then. So this record was essentially born/written at the time of recording. I just let my brain do its thing.
The result, I feel, is the most honest work I have ever committed to record. You are hearing exactly what I wanted to do, what I felt like doing, and what I was happy with. I'm really excited to show it to you.
You've taken a more novel approach to getting the record released, what made you go down the fan funded route?
We are living in strange times when it comes to the music business. There isn't really a lot of money to go around, and it is a sad fact that artists need money in order to do what they do. The Devil and I went down pretty well, but one of the things I always struggled with was affording to pay a band to get out on the road, and so I got to thinking about whether or not I could start my own label and make Lone Wolf a bit of an in house business, retaining full control, full rights, and doing things the way I wanted - using the money for what I need to, rather than pandering to a new label in a kind of Oliver Twist, "please sir, can I have some more?" kind of way.
I first heard of www.pledgemusic.com when my close pals iLiKETRAiNS did a campaign to get thier ILR label off the ground and release thier second album. The reaction from their fans was astonishing, but the reason for this was not just because they were asking for help. It gives the artist a unique opportunity to communicate directly with the fans, and give them the opportunity to play an important part in the release of the record. But as the artist, it is really nice to be able to do something for the fans too. I have tried to make sure that all of the things I have made available for purchase are as "fan centred" as possible. I really want to show each individual person just how much I appreciate every penny they have spent to help get this project off the ground! Whether it's coming out for an evening stargazing with me (I'm an astronomy geek), having guitar lessons, or having me travel and perform at your house, I want the fan to feel like they know how much thier involvement means to me.
What have you discovered or taken from this different approach?
Well, as I write this, I am 10 days into the campaign and 62% of the target has been raised, which is a phenomenal feeling. I'm not really the type to go easy on myself, and it's very easy to sink into lows. It's sometimes hard to believe that anybody out there really gives a damn about what you're doing. If there is one thing I will take from this, is that the next time I wonder if anyone cares, I can look down my growing list of people who have gotten involved in this project and remember that I really do have a wonderful fan base out there. They have all come together to show me they want me to keep making music. What more can an artist really ask for?
Do you think this sort of approach has or should have a place in the music business?
Well, going on my experience alone, so far my answer would be nothing short of YES! As a music buyer, I'd love to know that by buying a record I was DIRECTLY funding the artist I cared about, enabling them to achieve thier goals, rather than wondering how many fingers were in the proverbial pies.
Do you have a specific release time frame in mind?
Well, if (hopefully when, fingers crossed) I reach my target, the records are going to be sent off to the pressing plant almost immediately. I'm hoping October at the latest for an official release. Pledgers will get theirs earlier.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Get this label started, get this record out, get my new band rehearsed, and get back out there on the road. I'm hoping to be playing gigs before the end of the year.