He came, he saw, he conquered – and nary a tantrum in sight! Relive the pop icon's visit to Ireland with our coverage and exclusive photography on hotpress.com
Veteran Waterford rock ‘n’ roller Paul Butler – formerly of 1980s indie darlings Neuro – takes his music very seriously, but he’s not overly precious about himself. When a jealous local muso had a pop in a bar last year, telling the 52-year-old Propeller Palms frontman that he was “past it”, the youthful-looking Butler used the insult as inspiration for the title of his band’s sophomore album.
“Yeah, this guy was saying I was past it, and he used other derogatory terms as well,” Butler recalls, laughing. “I said, ‘Well, if you were listening to me you wouldn’t know how old I was, but if you were looking at me you might!’ So I decided to title our second album Old Dog, New Tricks as a bit of an ‘up yours!’ to him. There’s still a bit of life left in this old dog.”
This is most certainly true. The follow-up to 2011’s widely acclaimed All In This Together, Old Dog, New Tricks is another collection of finelycrafted, instantly hummable and wildly energetic rock ‘n’ roll songs reminiscent of The E-Street Band or Exile On Main Street-era Stones.
“We’re really proud of this one,” Butler enthuses. “To my mind, it has been a great release of many different emotions. There’s a good mix of songs there. I’ve have managed to squeeze a bunch of political tracks onto it. For example, songs like ‘Liberty’ and ‘Right Around Now’ identify the current political unrest and the need for a better society.
“Others like ‘Southbound’ and ‘You Will Never Know’ are nice pop songs, and then I’ve managed to squeeze in a couple of observational songs like ‘Look My Way’ and ‘Desert Road’ – a song about addiction and suicide. And ‘Welcome’, the closing track, takes a bit of a directional change for us, and is more of a personal, introspective kind of song. So the album itself hopefully has a nice slice of life to it.”
The new album – which will be launched with a hometown show in Waterford’s Theatre Royal on November 11 – was recorded in Dublin’s Sun Studios in fits and starts over the last two years. With eight members of the band (including a brass section), the logistics of getting everybody together weren’t always easy to organise.
“It is extremely difficult getting us all in the same room sometimes,” admits Paul. “Especially when so many band members are pursuing their own music careers as well. And then there’s the fact that we’re a very fertile group. A lot of the members have new additions to their families. There’s always that! The great thing about it is we have a great sense of community and camaraderie, and we try to tailor our time to suit ourselves. That’s important. We’re ambitious, but have to cater for the everyday factors of life. That’s it, really.”
For all of that, Propeller Palms have had a lot of success over the last few years. “We’ve had quite a few memorable moments,” says Butler. “We’ve done some stunning shows in Dublin. We’ve played in the Academy, supporting the Fun Lovin’ Criminals, and we’ve done our own Academy show. We supported the wonderful Howard Marks on one of his Irish tours, and may he rest in peace. He was a very beautiful man, who was very kind to us. We’ve played four Electric Picnics in a row.
“We’re getting played nationally on radio stations, and getting recognition from people like yourself, thank you, and Hot Press. We’re getting a lot of radio plays at the moment from
John Creedon, which is always a fantastic thing because of the sheer diversity of his show. And getting the local support in our hometown from WLR, and other local stations around Ireland. There’s profiling there all the time for us. There’s a momentum there. We need to obviously turn the corner and break down one of the doors and hopefully someone will give us the recognition and give us an auld shot. Ha!”
So what’s the ambition for Propeller Palms? “The ambition would be quite simple,” he states. “We’d all love to be able to give up our day jobs! They’re just dreams, but you never know what’s around the corner. You have to be prepared to try it. I’d love to get a couple of live sessions, get a couple of TV appearances. For this band, it’s the only thing we need. Have a couple of big DJs giving us a decent shot, on the bigger stations, and I think we’d be on our way.”
According to Butler, the arts are currently thriving in the south-east. “The music scene in Waterford is so good right now,” he says. “There’s bands like ourselves, there’s King Kong Company, Backroom Smokers, Ghost Robots, The Dead Heavies… and apologies if I leave out anybody.
“Seriously, it’s buzzing down here. Essentially, like what happened in places like Liverpool or Manchester in the 1980s, we’re a depressed town. Times might be tough, but art is flourishing down here. On all levels from drama to painting to music to literature. It just has been thriving down here. It’d be fuckin’ great if the rest of the country woke up to it.”
Propeller Palms launch Old Dog, New Tricks in Waterford’s Theatre Royal on November 11.
Don't stop Beliebin'