Multi-instrumentalist Paul Cusick recently released a debut album I said was ideal for fans of Porcupine Tree and Marillion, to name but two. So who is he?
Paul, the album Focal Point is your solo debut. What have you been doing up to now?
Musically I’ve been guitarist for other bands such as Gabriel, Aura and Ripped. Professionally I’m a Chartered Civil Engineer. I also have three kids.
You’re based near York?
I was born in York, spent my childhood in Scotland, attended Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, lived in Israel, USA, London and Leeds, eventually returning to York when the kids came along.
You write and play everything yourself except for drums. Was that always the plan, or had you lost faith in the band format?
I never planned to do it all myself - I just found it easier that way. When you co-write a song there are compromises, but with Focal Point I had a collection of songs and an idea of what I wanted. I had tried a couple of songs from the album within a band environment but they didn't work. The band showed almost no interest in my songs and I guess I didn't have much confidence in my writing - so as soon as their faces started to glaze over I’d just get back to playing guitar. Generally, bands I’ve been in have worked around the singer. I don’t consider myself a singer so I’d just do my bit on guitar. My approach is different now. Working on my own I take a song and imagine how a “dream band” would play it. I then develop the song with that in mind.
Having gone it alone, do you feel this is the best way to work?
I think so. I find it easy to write by myself. No pressure, compromise or egos to deal with. But things may change - I’m open to offers.
You had early interest from several record labels. Why set up your own?
I wanted to know how it all worked. I didn’t like the idea of blindly signing away a few years or a few albums to someone else. I used Myspace to get some demos out. I trawled the internet to research the ins and outs of being an indie artist. Through Facebook I started to build a fan base I could interact with. The natural progression was to set up a label, so Q Rock Records was born. I’m still learning but the internet is a great leveller.
Reviews have mentioned possible influences like Porcupine Tree and Marillion. Is that fair?
Listeners like a frame of reference and I’m flattered by the comparisons, especially when it's to bands I admire. It’s also fun to be compared to bands I've never heard of because then I get the chance to discover them. OSI springs to mind.
Do you plan to record soon, or have you already started?
I'm already recording album number two. There's no better place than my studio on a cold winter’s night.
Obviously you don’t have a band readily available for live work. When can we expect to see you gigging?
I think a band may be in order after the next album - but it depends on whether there's a demand. Only time will tell.
Posted: Wed 11 November 2009 15:46 by Martin Haggarty