24 Seconds with Paul Lambert
(Chad Rock photo)
With his debut solo ‘Sweet Relief’ available on iTunes later this month, Paul Lambert continues to forge new musical ground embarking as a solo artist. Prior to his appearance with City Walls, Friday, Dec. 2 at the Backstage Lounge, he caught up and spent 24 Seconds with Joe Leary.
24: You recently underwent a process of re-evaluating your musical process and decided it was time to chart a new path. What led up to this?
PL: As a solo artist, I felt it would be easier to experiment with many different sounds and emotional landscapes. I wanted to get back to a place of innocence and enjoy the writing process for what it is - an exercise in making sense out of the world I live in. In order to do this, I had to get far from the madding crowd: my label, producers, and the millions of opinions that were tearing me apart. I think creativity requires a safe place, free of pressure from the outside world, free from the weight of deadlines and outside opinions – in the words of Leonard Cohen, “you who must leave everything that you cannot control.” Once I created that space for myself it was amazing how much creative output I had.
24: During this time, did you literally re-examine every aspect of your career?
PL: Not so much; it was a process of simplifying, removing as much clutter from my life to allow space to dream. That being said, it was frightening to walk away from a comfortable situation. It took nine years to build the City Walls and Louder Than Love brand names - fan by fan, road mile by road mile, review by review, and record by record. But ultimately I felt that to reach my artistic potential I needed to step out on my own, feel the immensity of the world alone, and write some songs about it. Post-game recap: after a grinding year-long recording process I learned the most valuable lesson: it's really the friendships and relationships that we make and keep in life that mean the most in the end. I’m happy about how this is unfolding but I'm mostly grateful that my brothers in City Walls are still rockin' my world – they’re my keepers and without them I wouldn't be writing this right now.
24: You came out of this as a solo artist after having been a band guy for a number of years. How do you approach your artistry now as a solo?
PL: Nothing much has changed about the writing and recording process from my band days to now. It’s still both a celebratory and soul crushing process, but I guess I'm about 20% more efficient, 13.5% more lonely, and 10% sillier. To know my music is still to know me, but I did co-write some songs on this last record, which was such a joy. It gets tedious hitting the ball against the lyrical brick wall (hey - that rhymes!) for too long and my game improved drastically from rallying with other great writers. Being on my own has forced me to open up to the universe in a way that has enhanced a certain raw, self-awareness - probably the same way that someone might feel after a breakup or some other big life change.
24: After the band concept and working with labels/producers etc, are you now somewhat of a DIY kind of guy?
PL: City Walls and I are still working together. Funny enough the collective band ideas are flowing even more now. This being said, I've been wearing a million hats my entire career as a musician and solo artists need an even broader skill set, a masochistic work ethic, and a deep entrepreneurial drive. Here are how many jobs I have in a day:
8 - 10 a.m. - social media and marketing specialist, booking agent, promoter 10:15 a.m. - 12: p.m. – songwriter 12 - 2 p.m. - practicing musician 3 - 4 p.m. - emails and more tireless self-promoting 4 - 4:20 p.m. - 20 minute abs workout (you either stay fit or pickle your insides if want to last as long as Keith Richards) 4:20 - 5:00 p.m. - eat and... (oh wait, rock stars don't need sustenance of the food kind) 5 - 9 p.m. - teach guitar 9 p.m. - rehearse with the band “And so it goes on and on…” to quote myself from my forthcoming single “Left The Best Unsaid.”
24: What is your writing process like and where does the inspiration for the songs come from?
PL: Most of the songs off this record are largely autobiographical. I was able to dig deeper on this record because I'm finally figuring out how separate myself and my ego from the extraction process that is songwriting (which at times can be quite ugly). I tend to start understanding what my songs are about after I have written them. That said, I would say the overarching theme of the record is "rebirth." It's in the fabric of the title song “Sweet Relief.”“What sweet relief it is to walk away” is the feeling that I got when I started to free myself from the bonds of bad record deals, self-doubt, high expectations, and a general reliance on pain which I’d mistakenly thought was the necessary force in my creation process. It really was a sweet relief to finally accept my own limitations both as a person and as a musician. It's also a bit of a head nod to myself and to those I've loved and do love for being there with me through this intense musical journey.
"I’m sorry that I disappeared
I’m not sure where I am
Lost along this desert road
Where time meets the sand
I’m sorry that I disappeared
And left you in the dust
Trapped inside a pyramid
With a heart gone to rust
Well I know that love can die
But I believe it will come back
Like the fiery birds of Egypt
Love dies and comes right back"