Mike + the Mechanics singer Paul Carrack coming up
August 02, 2012
THE DISCOVERY of a drum kit in a Sheffield attic set the multi-talented musician Paul Carrack on a winding path to stardom.
Carrack, who will perform in the Summer Nights picnic concert at Loseley Park on August 17, has played with some legendary bands as well as making a name as a solo artist.
“I loved all the popular music I was exposed to as a kid growing up in Sheffield. In my early teens I was influenced by the guitar bands – The Shadows and Merseybeat,” he recalls.
“I started by playing drums because I discovered a few bits of drum kit in an attic that belonged to my dad. We had a corner shop and all the others shops in the block were lock-ups so I could bang away on the drums there.
“Dad was a dabbler and his family were very musical. He encouraged me and my brother in our interest but sadly we lost him when I was 11.
“Mum was not so keen and she was quite right to be concerned but other than football, music was what motivated me. I either wanted to play for Sheffield Wednesday or to become a Beatle.”
After leaving school at 16, Carrack was in semi-professional bands.
“It was the limit of my aspirations to play gigs and pubs but my career grew gradually and organically. It wasn’t like these days of instant celebrity when things happen in a nanosecond – I just wanted to be one of those guys in the vans going to gigs.
“We didn’t mind the hardships – the sleeping in the van, it was part of what was considered paying your dues.”
Like the Beatles and other 1960s acts, Carrack played clubs in Germany, having “weird and wonderful experiences and building up experience” before forming a band called Ace to play London clubs.
Ace was offered a record deal with a new label and a song Carrack wrote and sang called How Long became a hit in both the UK and US in 1974.
Ace never reached such heights again and after they disbanded Carrack worked as a backing musician and played on three Roxy Music albums.
In 1981 he joined Squeeze, replacing Jools Holland on keyboards, but soon moved on, recording solo, playing with Nick Lowe and being a session musician for The Smiths and The Pretenders.
In the mid-80s he joined Mike Rutherford from Genesis in his side project Mike + the Mechanics, alternating lead vocals for the group with the late Paul Young.
He also re-ignited his solo career with the hit album One Good Reason. In 1989, Mike + The Mechanics had a UK number two and US number one hit with The Living Years, on which Carrack again sang lead. Over the years he has performed with many of rock’s royalty and his songs have been recorded by bands such as The Eagles.
Yet Carrack believes that the past decade as a solo artist operating his own small record label and playing most of the instruments on each track himself has been his most productive.
“I started making a record called Satisfy My Soul at home wanting to do something that represented me rather than a hit. I released it and marketed it in a small way and found a whole new way of doing things.
“Up until then I had no idea of nuts and bolts of the record industry. It was very empowering and liberating and I think the records I’ve made since have been the best, if not the most commercially successful.
“I have a nice following and I believe I’m still getting better as a musician and performer. I loved being in bands but it’s nice at this stage to be a big fish in a little pond.”
Audiences at Loseley Park can expect a mixture of new and old songs. Carrack always includes favourites like Over My Shoulder and Living Years but says: “It’s not a nostalgia show so we are always producing new songs.
“I’ve had the same band for over 10 years so we try to tailor performances to the situation.
“At Loseley Park we will have some people who don’t know much about me but will recognise a lot of the songs and I hope they’ll be singing along.”
The Summer Nights concerts run from August 16th to 19th at Loseley Park and jazz artist Courtney Pine will perform before Paul Carrack on August 17th. A percentage of profits will go to support the local children’s hospice charity Shooting Star CHASE.
For more information, visit www.summernightsatloseleypark.co.uk or call 0114 2349979.