About a year ago, vocalist Paul Janeway and Jesse Phillips entered a studio to begin a musical project. The duo began concocting a sound that was saturated in old school soul and highlighted by Janeway’s powerful vocals. This sound became too big for Janeway and Phillips, and this musical project evolved into a six-piece soul powerhouse complete with a horn section. The group paired the sound with an electrifying live show that poured pure emotion over everyone in attendance, and St. Paul & the Broken Bones was born.
Since then, the group has made quite an impression on the Southeast. The buzz from both fans and critics is that St. Paul & the Broken Bones will follow the same path as The Alabama Shakes and become Alabama’s next breakout band. The band is prepping for this with the upcoming release of their full-length debut, which was fittingly produced by Alabama Shakes keyboardist Ben Tanner. With that said, their upcoming performance at Callaghan’s might be one of the last times to catch this charismatic band in an intimate setting. As his band prepares to take another step (possibly a huge one), Paul Janeway was gracious enough to chat with Lagniappe.
SC: This band has only been together for about a year. In that time, you’ve not only collected an impressive fan base, but you’ve also been taken on by some pretty impressive management (Thirty Tigers). I think they represent Jason Isbell and Shooter Jennings. What do you think it is about this group that has allowed you guys to move so fast
PJ: Desperation? I really don’t know. I think there’s something about our show. It’s pretty fun, and people seem to enjoy. I don’t really know, to be honest with you. I just feel fortunate to be where I am.
SC: When you first started out, it was just you and your bassist (Jesse Phillips) experimenting with an idea. Did you have in mind the neo-soul sound that you guys created, or was it something that just happened naturally?
PJ: I think it happened progressively. I only sing a certain way. The way I sing kind of creates what we do. So, it’s difficult for me to do more rock-and-roll type music when I feel more matched with soul. It kind of progressed that way.
SC: You guys have been busy putting together your first full-length in Muscle Shoals. A lot of bands of your caliber have been jetting up to Nashville to record. What made you guys want to keep it local?
PJ: First, we had an opportunity with Ben Tanner to have him produce the record. We feel a kinship with Muscle Shoals and that area. We also wanted to do it to analog tape. We didn’t want to do it and have a lot of digital presence. We decided that’s the way that we wanted to do the album, and that’s what we did. We did it all to tape and mixed to tape. We recorded at The Nutthouse and mixed it at FAME. We just felt a kinship there, and what we’re doing is in that spirit. We felt that if we’re going to do it justice, then we need to do as properly as we can.
SC: Recording everything live to tape can be a very tedious experience. If one person screws up, then everybody has to start over. Then, you have to roll the tape back and start over. Was it a tedious process for you guys?
PJ: Not really, we did it all live, and vocally, we did about three takes, and that was it. Before we got in that studio, we rehearsed pretty hardcore. So, when we got in there, there wasn’t a lot of mistakes. It’s rough around the edges, but all those old soul records are too. When you hear “When a Man Loves a Woman,” the horns are out of tune. It’s funny, because there are a few things where I was like, “You know, maybe we’ll try something different here.” Then, we would try and fix it, and it just lost the spirit of it when we did that. Then, we would end up leaving it the way it is. I heard a quote one time, and I think it was from a bluegrass artist. He said, “Each time you record a song, it loses its soul each time that you record it.” I think we felt that way with this record. We wanted to do it as naturally as it possibly could be done and capture all those little things in each song.
SC: You got a lot of fans itching to get this new album. What are they going to experience with this one?
PJ: It’s definitely soulful. Each song represents itself. It’s a collection of songs. It’s not necessarily where we were like, “OK, this is going to be like Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ or something like that.” Each song stands on its own. I feel like the album to us is a statement like, “Hey! We’re here!” I go forward a lot vocally on the album, instead of falling back. I go for more. It’s just more of a statement. It’s a debut album, you know?
SC: Do you have a title and release date yet?
PJ: We have! It’s going to be sometime in January, and the title is going to be “Half the City.”
SC: One thing that I keep hearing from your fans and various critics is that you guys are right on the edge of exploding onto the national level. Whenever you think about how it just started with you and Jesse in the studio, what do you think about taking St. Paul & the Broken Bones to another level?
PJ: It’s bizarre just to think that it could get crazier. It’s hard to imagine, and it’s very flattering. It’s really crazy to think about. We try to take it in strides. Honestly, our bank accounts don’t seem like they’re on the next level, I can tell you that (laughing).
Band: St. Paul & the Broken Bones
Date: Sat., Aug. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Callaghan’s Irish Social Club, 916 Charleston St.,
Tickets: $12 avail. at Callaghan’s
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