The millennium year was a key turning point for singer-songwriter Paul Carrack.
After success with big bands and solo and on major labels, he decided to go in-house and go independent. “I think it was a good decision,” he says as he looks back 17 years later.
Paul, who plays the Brighton Centre on March 24, recalls: “I had made two albums for EMI which became the straw that broke the camel’s back. I realised that unless you are a priority act on a label, there was really not much point being there. I didn’t have any experience in terms of the business of putting out a record independently, but a good friend of mine, with his support, helped me realise I could do it myself. I certainly enjoyed the benefits of doing it the conventional route. I was in several high-profile bands, but that was back in the day, and then it was fairly obvious that things were changing with CD sales down and all the rest of it. I just felt that I wanted to be free at that point. It means you do have greater artistic control, but it also means that you have got to get your hands dirty in all the nitty-gritty of every aspect of it all and every cost comes down to you. But I wasn’t just one of those guys moaning about the record business. I was brought up with a corner-shop mentality. My family sold paper and paint, and it gave me an insight into work. My family worked very hard. My dad was a painter and decorator, self-employed. But unfortunately, my father had an accident and didn’t survive. I was 11 and my brother was 15. My brother went on to run the shop. He retired last year at the age of 69, and my mum worked in the shop well into her 60s even though she was quite ill. It taught me hard work and it taught me honesty and humour and love.”
It also taught him about community: “People were coming into the shop all day and chatting. It was on the outskirts of Sheffield. It was originally a little village that had become part of the city, and it was a real community. Everybody knew everybody else, and we had a lot of freedom as kids.”
The shop life didn’t claim Paul, though: “There was not enough room in the shop for me! My mum struggled after my dad died. It really knocked her sideways, but as long as I could keep going, I was OK. I had music. I just knew that I wasn’t any good at anything else. I could play music and I could play football. I wasn’t very academic. I was 11 when my father died, but he encouraged the musical aspect. His family were pretty musical, and that’s how it started. There were a few bits and bobs of old drums which I used to bash on. But my mum was really against it. Back in the late 1960s, being a musician was not considered the right thing to be. But I started bashing on the drums. I was not great, but I had a good feel. I joined bands at school. When I was 16, I think, I joined a soul band. I got an organ on HP. My mum signed for it.” And so it goes on. Paul’s own son drums with him now: “He is a chip off the old block. I have got three other kids that have gone more conventional. One is an IT guy, another a physio and another one that is an MA in performing arts. But my son is a good drummer.”