“SONG FOR EWE”
with PAUL SMITH of
MAXÏMO PARK & PAUL SMITH & THE IMITATIONS
“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day.
Although Velvet Sheep started in the early 90s before Maximo Park formed, they are very much in our MO. Choppy guitars, lyrics that catch the ear and tug at the heart and a frontman who you can never take your eyes off. On the song “Acrobat” he sang in his soft Northeastern timbre that he didn’t remember “losing sight of your needs” but this is a man who has never lost sight of my need for an unforgettably hooky slice of punk pop that falls somewhere between the bittersweet Buzzcocks and the bitter pill of the Red House Painters. And unlike Paul Smith the Blast First label boss, thankfully Paul Smith of Maximo Park has never had to clean up my sick on a bus containing members of Wire & The Boredoms back from Manchester’s Roadhouse. Perhaps that’s why Paul Smith agreed to choose a “song for ewe”.
I’d been a fan of his band for a while and seen them play live several times, but when he DJ’ed at an event celebrating 5 years of the MTV2 show “Gonzo” with Zane Lowe (a show I had co-created with the self-styled Zipper, now off working for Apple Music) I found myself in a box and up close as he and Lukas from Maximo spun some tunes. I remember they segued from The Big Bopper “Chantilly Lace” into The Afghan Whigs’ “Gentleman”, and that confirmed to me that not only did they make good tunes themselves they had impeccable taste. Unfortunately and very unlike me I was too shy to mumble my hellos, perhaps half afeard that in the presence of such a thoughtful, gentle and measured wordsmith that I would find my vocabulary had turned to mush.
I tweeted him afterwards and he’d said I should’ve said hi, so I was relieved when the chance came up to interview him and his long term pal Peter Brewis of Field Music about their joint project “Frozen By Sight”. He was everything i’d hoped for and you can read what I composed for The Quietus here.
Paul is due to release a record by another band away from Maximo and this time his name’s on the billboard – as Paul Smith & The Imitations. I’ve been lucky enough to hear a preview of their album “Contradictions” which is out on 21st August and it’s reassuringly familiar yet distinctive. The lyrics are more contemplative, the music gives them more room to breathe – yet this is no Codeine or Low, the music is perky not percocet.
Maximo also have plans, with a run of gigs in November to coincide with the 10th anniversary of their first spiky album “A Certain Trigger” (where does the time go says this old man)?
In between albums Paul is usually to be found wandering gazing wistfully into the middle distance with a pen in one hand and a journal in the other, or he’ll be leafing through records to find some new Mark Kozelek or other rarer gems, a passionate arbiter of great music and songwriting. With that in mind, I was keeping my fingers crossed when I asked Paul to choose a song he’d enjoyed lately.
He didn’t disappoint, and in an interesting twist rather than a sentence he sent me a soundbite in his inimitable tones about a song from the seventies that’s less (Velvet) sheep than (prized) Cow.
It’s literally, over to Paul: (click on Soundcloud link below)
THANKS SO MUCH TO PAUL SMITH (A CONTEMPORARY HERO). ALSO TO SALLY HEDBERG FOR SENDING THE CURRENT ALBUM. AND RICKY MARTIN (NOT THAT ONE) A.K.A. “ART NINJA” FOR THE PICTURE OF PAUL.
Paul Smith & The Imitations album is available from his site here.