Imagine not being able to do the things you enjoy most. Hiking, biking, yoga and/or climbing are endeavors you no longer are able to participate in. Of course, one mustn't forget the saying, "That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger."
Paul Lewis is a testament to strong will, determination, and the love and support of friends. His second solo release, Trading Horror Stories, on Realize Records, chronicles much of what he endured over the last several years. In fact, the CD recently garnered six first round Grammy nominations for the Recording Academy's Grammy Awards. Lewis is being considered in the categories of Album of the Year, Song of the Year for "Sometimes," Best New Artist, Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance for "Original Sin" and "Teardrop," and Best Recording Packaging.
Considering what Paul Lewis has has to endure and how he has come out of it, this coud nothave happened to a more deserving person. Find out more abut Paul Lewis in this interview conducting a few weeks ago.
Considering all you went through in the years prior to putting Trading Horror Stories on a tape, do you believe it is luck and good fortune or fate that you are where you are today?
Maybe all the above. Thanks to my wonderful wife, my daughter and my close friends, I was able to "pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again!" I am a stronger person because of all of this.
A person in your situation could go one of several ways: depression, blessed, etc. What kept you going throughout that three year period?
I believe it is attributed to perseverance. Plain and simple, although it was the toughest time in my life. I mean, I had a drummer and compadre of 10+ years die suddenly while I was in the process of making this record. I wanted him on the new record, but it did not turn out that way. Just two months after that a close friend was diagnosed with cancer. 47 days later he died. I was there in the hospital when his vitals dropped off the map. Just when you thought it could get no worse, a kid who had been drinking ran a red light and T-boned me. Put me in the hospital and I was unable to play for the first time in my life. Very disheartening to say the least. I was a mess. I was on major pain medication and was feeling worthless. I have a wife and a child and was unable to support them ,or at least that's how I felt. The recording was halted for a indefinite period of time. I lost gigs. I was feeling very sorry for myself.
Did you, at any time, truly feel you would never record again? Describe that feeling or explain why you didn't feel that way.
No, I never felt I was never going to do this again. Instead, I felt, at one point, how could I possible take any more? Like I said, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself and wasn't seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Then just as all of this devastated my life I woke up and pushed myself to continue on with a little help from the special people in my life.
I was born and raised in NY. After 27 years, I found I had to get out. You, on the other hand, felt the need/urge to return. What is the lure of the east coast?
Oh, I get the "had to get out" comment for sure. I felt like I was spinning my wheels. My own father said "Your going nowhere fast. Get out and go learn something," and so I did. I learned more in seven years in Los Angeles than I did the nine years prior when I was touring the east coast and recording with a very successful act (Y-NOT). After recording my first solo record (Get On With It), I wanted to record on the east coast for my second solo endeavor, and I wanted all the guys from my past to be on this record. I also had come to a realization about my life and I wanted to have some stability, i.e., own a house, life insurance, health insurance, watch my daughter grow into a woman, take care of my family, etc.. This would be more possible back east than it would in LA. For one, my daughter lives with her mother (my ex-wife) on the east coast and my family, as well as my wife's family, are from here. I think 9/11 had somewhat of an impact on all of this as well. What I mean by that is life is short and you never know when your time is up!
I understand that this is generally a difficult question for a songwriter, but are there one or two tracks on Trading Horror Stories that tug at your heart strings? Explain why?
This entire record was the most emotional recording experience to date. Two tracks in particular would have to be "Sometimes" & "Hailey Rose." "Sometimes" deals with passion; an overwhelming passion that rules your life. This song is obviously about my wife, Michelle, and I. I feel even more love and passion for her this very moment than I did when we met and I never thought that was possible. "Hailey Rose" was written about a little girl that almost wasn't. Her parents are friends of ours and they found out early in the pregnancy that she was going to have Downs Syndrome. They knew early enough to not have the child and decide to have her. I told them I would write a song for her. The song was written from a father-daughter perspective. I thought this out and what better way to achieve it's full meaning than to have a father and daughter sing it. It was an incredible experience. It was my daughter's first studio recording experience. She was 11 years old. She had been in a studio with me before, but this time she was singing, and she was singing a duet with her daddy. I was so proud of her that day and the recording speaks for itself.
I get the impression that you have seen and done more than the average bear. What goals are there left to accomplish?
Oh, have I! You are right though I am far from doing what I want to do. I want to be a successful producer. Realize Records and I are about to release a tribute to The Police titled SOS - A Tribute to the Police to raise money and awareness for cancer research. I am producing the record. I had the fortune to work with many different acts from many genres, from Jazz to Techno, Funk, Blues, Hard Rock, etc. It has been a long process, but when everyone hears the record it will be worth it. I would like to tour the world. It's a big beautiful and, sometimes, scary place and I want to see it all, and I want the world to hear what I've got to say. To be honest though, if my life was to end tomorrow I would feel I have done some great things career wise and personally with it. I have made seven great recordings, all of which I am proud of, and my wife and my daughter are so special to me and I could not ask for more.
You were recently nominated for six Grammy Awards. Congratulations!
Yeah, WOW! That was crazy! I thought everyone was making this up! There is no way I made the "any" list for the Grammy's. Then I saw the actual entry list and sure enough I did make it. It's crazy! I knew that the record company had sent it out, but I never thought I'd make it pass the first 150 judges in L.A.. To be acknowledged by the panel was one of the greatest career moments of my life so far.
Tell me about your band. I sense you are someone who is very loyal what with three members of a former band playing with you now. True? Also, Matthew Porcaro? Any relation to either Porcaro brother (Toto)? I know Jeff had three sons and a nephew who all played drums.
Yes, I am a very loyal person. Playing with these guys again has been something I can't even begin to express how it makes me feel. I never thought we would be coming full circle like this. I thought it only happened in books and movies. I am truly blessed. This line up is so incredibly strong. I feel relaxed and very comfortable on stage, and that allows me to perform and play to my fullest ability. They make me a better musician and that is all I can ask for.
As far as Matthew Porcaro...it's funny you mention this. He uses that to help people spell his name correctly, but he swears he is not related. He could not be telling the truth ya know, but I guess we will never know. LOL!
Is this the beginning, or the end, of a chapter?
This is just the beginning for me and for the record company. Oh...Yeah!!!!...and I have some interest from an agency that can put me in front of the right people and in the right venues, so it's just the beginning for me. I am just getting started!!!!
Visit Paul Lewis' website by clicking here.