Paul Miro is a singer-songwriter who first came to prominence in the mid 1990s as frontman for UK rock band Apes, Pigs & Spacemen. Since then he’s released numerous solo albums as well as writing music for TV and movies. His next album Sinombre is launched through PledgeMusic on 25th March. Check out his website and follow him on Twitter.
This is his music…
What is your favourite song of all time?
If I had a pound for every time I’d been asked that… I’d still not have a definitive answer. I don’t really do favourites, as such, but there are definitely a number of songs that move me more than others. Seeing as it’s always often springs to mind first when I’m asked, I’m going with Tom Waits, Soldier’s Things.
Can you remember when you fell in love with it?
I can vividly recall the day I was introduced to Tom Waits’ music. I was round at an older mate’s flat. He was a huge New York Dolls, Iggy Pop, Ramones, Only Ones fan and he said, ‘Check this out,’ and put Tom Waits’ Asylum Years on the turntable. I was captivated from the opening bars of Diamonds on my Windshield. It took me to some place I had never been. We just sat in silence, and I remember the string arrangement of Tom Traubert’s Blues reducing me to tears. It still does. It was like every song was a book written just for me, dragging me in to a dimestore novel world of freaks where I felt right at home. I went out and bought the first Tom Waits album I could find, which was Swordfish Trombones, and listened to it on repeat for weeks. Soldier’s Things is one of the most moving songs ever written and the delivery and execution of it on that album is as near perfection as anything I’ve ever heard.
Has a song or album ever changed your life?
I think the above story is one of the ‘life changing’ examples. But, before that, I think one of the most fundamental shifts in my thinking came about when I was much younger. I was fortunate to grow up in a house saturated in great music – jazz, blues, classical, funk, country, rock, skiffle, you name it. I come from generations of musicians and started playing at three. But, as a kid, you don’t have money to buy your own music.
My sister and I shared a turntable, and she was old enough to be earning a living and buying music, so I was forced to listen to stuff like David Gates and Bread, Hall & Oates and the like who, at the time, I didn’t appreciate because it was all a bit safe. I now have a much greater respect and appreciation for the craftsmanship and amazing songwriting and production and musicianship on those albums and realize they in turn had some influence on me as a writer, but, at the time, I hated it.
Then, one day, my sister’s boyfriend brought round a stack of LPs: The Stones, Beatles, Zeppelin and the entire Bowie collection up to Scary Monsters. Complete magic. The Bowie stuff in particular was massively life changing.
The other one I have to mention is when a neighbour invited me round to listen to Frank Zappa’s Joe’s Garage. I was a kid, and the swearing made me laugh. But I knew there was more to it, and Zappa quickly grew into another obsession, especially as my musical skills advanced. A unique genius.
If you could only listen to five albums for the rest of time, what would they be?
Tough call. I think I’ve mentioned a couple already. Tom Waits, Swordfish Trombones, though I would just as happily take his Rain Dogs, Mule Variations or Bone Machine. Zappa’s Joe’s Garage. Again, there are at least five of his other albums that would be acceptable alternatives. There’s have to be a Mozart symphony. Probably his 40th, because it’s in G minor and I love minor keys. Jeff Beck – Wired. Because it demonstrates how incredibly an electric guitar can be played. Beck is just insanely talented. That only leaves me with one. Probably Bowie’s Hunky Dory. I’d just keep singing along to it until everyone left me alone. A true work of beauty.
How much of your day do you spend listening to music?
I spend on average 14 hours of every day composing, recording, mixing and editing music, so, like many people in my position, I don’t get much chance to listen to music. A lot of what I do get to listen to is either stuff that I wouldn’t normally choose to – music from TV and film companies that I’m sent as reference material in conjunction with project specific compositions. And I also get sent many albums a week from bands and writers who follow what I do, all of which I try to give feedback on when I get chance. So, when I finish for the day, the last thing I want to do is listen to music. Reading is my relaxation.
What’s your ideal time and place for listening to music?
See above. About the only chance I get to listen to music is when cooking, and I’ll often put on some good time Cuban or Latino vibes, like Bush y Sus Magnificos, to get my head in carnival mode.
What’s the best gig/show you’ve ever been to?
I’ve seen many bigger spectacles and had the privilege to see some of the greatest musicians do incredible things on stage, but there are two gigs that stand out. One was seeing the Buddy Rich Big Band when I was ten. I think I would still be as dumbstruck if I watched that show today. The other was AC/DC at Brixton Academy. That was… 1986, I think. I remember thinking, ‘One day, I’m going to be on that stage.’ And, that was the first thought that came into my head when I walked on that same stage with AP&S nine years later. Always makes me smile.
Approximately how big is your music collection? And in what format?
I sold off a lot of my vinyl to create space. I think I owned about 4000 LPs, but that’s down to a few hundred now. I have no idea how many CDs I have. Probably 4 to 5000.
What does music mean to you?
Without wishing to sound profound and pretentious, music is who I am. It defines me and is my doorway to the world and the medium through which I find it easiest to express myself and communicate.
What song should we all go and listen to right now to make our day better?
Music is so subjective, and I wouldn’t want to impose my taste on others. My morning coffee listening for smiles today is Funkadelic’s One Nation Under a Groove.