rushonrock editor Simon Rushworth caught up with guitar hero Paul Guerin as the band kicked off their latest UK headline tour!
rushonrock: It seems like the Quireboys are always out there on the road so when do you get time to write a record?
Paul Guerin: These days you can make a record and tour at the same time. For a band like the Quireboys that’s just about perfect. We don’t have to wait to get into the studio – I take the studio with us!
rushonrock: How do you mean?
PG: I use Logic Pro 8 on the Mac and 20 minutes after we arrive at wherever we’re stopping the studio’s up and running. Even if we only have an hour or so we get to work – me, Spike and Guy always have a bucketful of ideas knocking around. And the guy looking after us in Scandinavia last month, Andre, always made sure there was a conference room booked in our name at the hotel so we had somewhere to work.
rushonrock: Were those sessions useful?
PG: We’d be in there every day working on the new songs. There’s some great stuff to look forward to. Spike’s got together with me since and as a band we’ve been working on the best stuff but I’m totally confident in what we’ll have to offer. Technology is working in our favour because we’ve always been prolific songwriters – we’ve just never had the time to get into the studio because, as a band, we don’t like to stand still.
rushonrock: The revamped Quireboys are celebrating their 10th anniversary – how does that feel?
PG: Yes, it’s almost 10 years since I became a Quireboy. I’m still the new lad! But I go back a lot further with Spike and Griff. When the Quireboys released A Bit Of What You Fancy my band, the Red Dogs, supported them on both of their major tours. That’s when our friendship was forged. The London scene was fantastic back then and we were always very close, playing the same places and drinking in the same clubs. Just before Luke Bossendorfer joined the band Spike rang me from LA and asked me if I would be in the band. At that point I was just too busy to say ‘yes’ but it was inevitable that it would happen.
rushonrock: So how did it happen?
PG: Eventually Spike wanted to do a solo album and I played guitar on It’s A Treat To Be Alive. After that Luke wanted to leave due to family reasons and it was almost an unsaid assumption that I was now in the Quireboys. A decade later nobody’s really confirmed or denied that rumour. But I’m still here!
rushonrock: Your keyboard player Keith Weir is both the quiet man and the unsung hero of the Quireboys – don’t you two go way back?
PG: I’ve known and played alongside Keith for 20 years. We got to know each other after I’d finally called time on five years of Red Dogs. I’d spent 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on that band and it all came crashing down. But I picked myself up and answered an ad in Kerrang! which simply said ‘guitar player wanted for new band’. I went for the audition and it was Keith who picked me up at the station and drove me to Evesham where the audition was. I remember saying to him ‘I hope you like me – if you don’t it’s going to be a bit awkward driving all the way back from Evesham!’. Anyway I got the gig and the band – called The Firebirds – played a few shows including a support with the Little Angels at Hammersmith Odeon. The band didn’t last long but me and Keith have stuck together ever since.
rushonrock: How highly do you rate him as a musician?
PG: Everything I’ve ever done I’ve got Keith involved. People don’t realise how talented he is but I always say to them ‘try and replace him then’. Keith, Spike, Griff and me – the four of us are the Quireboys these days and we’re still together after a decade.
rushonrock: What’s the secret to that longevity (drummers and bass players aside)?
PG: Professionally and personally we can communicate with each other. We don’t always agree but I feel comfortable with the fact that I’m always able to express my opinion in their company and it matters. If I’m wrong then they’ll tell me and I’ll hold my hands up and admit it. It’s why the songwriting is so good these days. All four of us have an open mind when it comes to music and we regularly approach each other with ideas which often get knocked down. That’s part of the process. And the other thing is we’ve been through thick and thin as a band – even thin and thin in the early days – and we appreciate what we’ve got right now.
rushonrock: But you must have days when you can’t wait to see the back of the other band members…
PG: Don’t get me wrong. It’s not easy by any means. The tours are very gruelling and you can sit on a bus between shows for nine or 10 hours at a time. You have to get on in that situation and you have to really love what you’re doing. And we do. We have great people who do look after us on the road but we also look after each other. We share a common goal to make every album and every tour better than the last one. The Quireboys is still important to all four of us. We’re not doing this because we have nothing else to do – far from it. We all have a lot of stuff going on but the Quireboys is the priority.
rushonrock: So when can we expect a new studio album of original Quireboys material?
PG: The new album’s due in 2012 and we’ve already started writing and demoing the songs. For the first time Keith’s brought something to the table as a songwriter and that’s very exciting for the band. He just doesn’t see himself as a writer but if he gives me a new piano piece to work with then it can become the bedrock of a song. Writing almost always starts with one idea in mind only for the end result to be something completely different or unexpected. The first song I presented for the new album is a case in point. I knew it had a similar sound to a very well known song but I know the caliber of the people I work with. I knew if I threw it out there then they would help to change the focus and it would become something completely different. I knew the song’s strengths and I knew its weaknesses and I knew the other lads could make it stronger.
rushonrock: How does it feel to be back on the road at a time of year that’s become synonymous with a Quireboys tour?
PG: The latest UK tour was pulled together at relatively short notice. Our new booking agency worked around the clock to get us a high profile support slot before Christmas and we were in the running for all of the right shows. But it just didn’t happen this time and that’s the way the cookie crumbles. And so we’re on another headline tour!
rushonrock: And what does that mean?
PG: What it means is that we’re playing some places we don’t usually play because the venues we normally play were already booked out! That’s no disrespect to the new places – we can’t wait to see new people – but people might be surprised to see where we’re appearing. Even we were surprised to find out we were appearing at the Newcastle Academy as it was already booked! Now we’re across town at Northumbria University. The thing is we don’t have a new album out and so we can’t really justify a large scale tour. On the other hand we didn’t want to kick our heels for what, by Quireboys’ standards, could have been a while. I think we’ve fund the right balance and if people still want to buy tickets we’ll still play!
rushonrock: What’s happening in the world of the Down N Outz right now?
PG: The Down N Outz is an ongoing thing which I love and which I’m very relaxed about. I do my stuff, Joe (Elliott) does his stuff and eventually there will be a second album. It’s something I love and, for me, a whole different guitar style and therefore a whole new challenge. The big news with Down N Outz is that it looks like we’re going to bring our first original album forward. The plan was to make three albums of covers but now it looks like album number three will be new material. And that’s very exciting. I’m already writing new songs with Joe in mind just like I’ve always written songs with Spike in mind. As always with the Down N Outz there’s no timetable but rest assured we will be back!