Hot Press - - Contents - IN­TER­VIEW Olaf Tyaransen

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 hot­

Paul But­ler

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

Pro­pel­ler Palms

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.

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