the AU interview: Paul Marshall aka Lone Wolf (UK) talks The Devil And I


Lone Wolf is the alter-ego of singer-songwriter Paul Marshall; though don’t call him a singer-songwriter to his face. Hailing from Leeds, UK he has just released his first album The Devil And I  under the new name, and has even more recently been seen opening for Broken Bells at the Meltdown festival in London. The album is one which is rich musically and lyrically and oozes melodic melancholy. It seems no surprise that he is influenced by musicians like Nick Cave and Johnny Cash.

This Is War by Lone Wolf

He is a musician who sings about death and murder, and has no qualms about disguising a message of ‘I Love You’ underneath those darker stories. I don’t normally do the whole Top Albums of the year malarkey, but I would have to say this already a frontrunner. It’s a truly beautiful album from a musician who has a penchant for great lyrics. We may even see him in Australia, but we’d need to get rid of the spiders first.

Lone Wolf answers a few of my questions:

How would you describe your music? The Singer-Songwriter label just doesn’t seem to cut it.

It’s always a tough one because deep down I suppose technically I am a singer songwriter as that was how all of the songs on this record were initially born.  Either with me and an acoustic/electric guitar or a piano and then I built upon them rather than keeping them stripped down.  But as for how I describe it, sadly that is a question I never know the answer to.  Not because my music is so off the wall it bears no description, the songs just vary quite a lot which makes it difficult to pigeon hole I suppose.

Lone Wolf obviously isn’t your given name, but a moniker you have chosen, any significance to it?

By name, by nature I suppose.  Pretty much everything you hear on the album I was responsible for. I’m not good at letting other people’s ideas in as I worry too much.  I played everything apart from the drums, the trumpets and the strings.  Also back to pigeon-holing (that sounds pornographic, sorry), I didn’t want people to assume I was a singer songwriter.  This is kind of ambiguous whilst saying the same thing…

How do you approach the song writing process?

Pretty much in the same way that most musicians do. I fanny around on the guitar and piano until I find something that pushes my buttons and away I go.  I write down a lot of things I see – names, place names, incidents etc and they end up somehow forming the fictional situations in my lyrics.

Who would you consider to be your influences, both musically and elsewhere?

My influences seem to mean nothing to my music most of the time.  I mean if I said I grew up listening to The Police and Fine Young Cannibals you wouldn’t exactly say ‘shit of course, I should have realised’.  But obviously I have been intrigued by horror, and lyricists like Nick Cave or Johnny Cash etc.

When did you make the decision to make the decision to make music a full-time career?

Pretty much the moment I got signed.  I always knew it was my ultimate goal in life; however, finance is always the problem.  But when I had just enough that I felt I could struggle by (and believe me that is what it is) I quit my job.

What has been your greatest moment in music so far?

Greatest or favourite?  On paper I guess my GREATEST moment was just a month ago when the band and myself supported Broken Bells at Royal Festival Hall in London.  That’s a BIG room with 3,000 people.  I got to play a Steinway Grand Piano on stage and that was a very special moment for me.  As for favourite, I thing SXSW 2009 is going to be a tough one to beat.  Despite collapsing after eating some serious hot sauce.

Thematically The Devil And I could be taken as being a dark/brooding album, where did you draw inspiration for the songs from?

As I mentioned above I like to write about fictional characters and situations, but I suppose they are all one massive metaphor for things that have happened to me in my life.  I like to disguise things like that.  So I like to think there’s not many people out there who like to disguise an underlying message of  ‘I love you’ underneath what is essentially a tale of someone getting murdered!

What’s the reaction to your latest album been like?

Critically, amazing to be honest.  I’m really, really happy with the way the press have taken it.  I’ve always been aware that this album is a bit of a slow burner, and so the fact that the big magazines have given it the thumbs up has helped me sleep at night.

The album as it has been recorded has quite a large sound, with orchestral moments, how do you approach this live?

Live I play in 3 different ways.  I have a 5 piece band which I think does a pretty good job of conveying the albums LOUDEST parts.  I’ve yet to take out strings on the road, but that’s going to happen at some point.  I also perform with Laura Groves aka Blue Roses as a 2 piece which is a stripped down but fun version.  I also play solo.

Are you taking a break, or do you already have the next album in the pipeline?

I am probably the least prolific person on the planet so don’t expect a new album next week, but I never take a break.  My brain doesn’t allow it.

Can we expect to see you gracing Australian shores any time soon? Have you toured there before?

All I can say is I bloody hope so.  Although I am a total arachnophobe, and I’ve always been nervous about coming to Oz because of those big huntsman spiders you have.  I’m not too bothered about the red-backs.  It’s the size that does it to me.  Uggghhh.


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Simon Clark

Books Editor. An admirer of songs and reader of books. Simon has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature. All errant apostrophes are his own.