PAUL COTTON MUSICAL ARCHIVE

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The John Brindle Interview - March 2002

John Brindle : Can you run through your song contributions to the new album?
Paul Cotton: Iíve got a song called I Can Only Imagine, another one called Every Time I hear That Train, kind of my tribute to my favourite city out here, Santa Barbara, another one called The Running Horse which is inspired by, of all things (laughs), the Legend album cover.
JB Were these songs specifically written for this project, are they all new songs?
PC Yes they are.
JB Do you have a big backlog of songs built up over the years?
PC Always do, there are quite a few Iím working on now, including a song called Bareback. Not to toot my own horn here, but Iím 2,000 miles from everyone Ö anyway itís got a nice little groove to it. Thereís no album title song so I thought Iíd kick it around. It started off as an instrumental then I changed it. This version has got lyrics and what not, maybe we could use it somewhere down the line.
JB The actual title of the new album sounds very Pocoish
PC Yes, well with the cover in mind, a girl with a tattoo on her back. Thatís the working idea for the cover right now.
JB How do rehearsals work with you living away from the band on the West Coast?
PC Basically I came to the studio with a mini-disc of my three songs and they all contributed. We havenít mixed the record yet, itíll be about a month.
JB Do you feel pleased with the quality of songs that each member has contributed, do you think it is a strong record?
PC Yes, everybody is writing exactly as you would expect. Every song sounds like a Rusty song, Jack too. With George weíve got that voice on top again, crystal clear. Very Poco like.
JB What guitars did you use on the new record?
PC On The Running Horse, the Gretch White Falcon. I also use the Stratocaster, that Rusty gave me, thatís very obvious. The one that really stands out for the leads is my Les Paul Standard. Thatís pretty much the trademark, we really nailed it, it sounds like we used to on some of the old records.
JB I always feel that you brought an edge to the bandís sound, very much like Stephen Stills does with CSN.
PC Thank you. Well that is exactly how they saw my role (the other members of Poco). They needed that rock Ďní roll edge.
JB Although Jimmy Messina is a fine musician he doesnít have that rock Ďní roll style that you have.
PC No, heís a surf guitarist. Heís a very clean, excellent player. Two notes and you can tell itís him. I participated in one of his Ďsongwriters in the roundsí sessions in 1997.
JB Can you run through some of the favourite guitars you have in your collection?
PC I have Normanís Rare Guitars. Which has actually moved closer to me, this is where Clapton and Bob Dylan, George Harrison Ö theyíve all been there. Now Norman is right down the street from me so I go in for a set of strings and come out with a White Falcon! Itís a dangerous place to be. I love Gibson acoustics. I had a J100, which is a kind of stripped down version of a J200, and Iíve tried taking that on the road. That is about as big as you can carry. I kind of got rid of that. I have a Martin HD28, which I donít take out of the house. I use it for recording. Rusty and I used Takamines. Iíve retired mine after twenty years, in perfect condition. Now Iím using a Goden, which is made in Canada. They are hollowed out, really sturdy. They have a microphone inside which combines with the bridge pickup, itís just wonderful. I carry it in a soft case, which goes overhead in the aeroplane. Itís durable, thatís my main acoustic. After 9/11 I was told that you werenít allowed to carry those things on board with you so I had to get another acoustic, An Alverez, a beautiful black cutaway, nice and loud.
JB Going back to Poco Paul, how do you feel about the proposed second new Poco record that Rusty was telling Steve about last night, with Randy and Richie?
PC I canít wait! To be able to sing on Take It To The Limit? That would be an honour. I guess weíre projecting that, maybe this Fall.
JB I would imagine it should be good fun to rework some of the old material into an acoustic format?
PC Yes, when Rusty and I do our acoustic duo we kind of fool around with those old songs. Under The Gun came out great this last year live. Itís very Beatles like now! Itíll be a challenge and a lot of fun, stripping them down.
JB On that note can we talk about your solo career? Iím not just being polite but I thought Firebird was wonderful. The paired down arrangements really suited the material. Are you pleased with it in hindsight?
PC There is always something I would change. Overall, yes I am. It holds up pretty well.
JB On Firebird, the Poco material that you reworked came out well in that format. It was almost a risky thing to do but you pulled it off.
PC Oh, Iím glad. Rusty contributed beautifully (on Bad Weather).
JB There are a number of standout songs. For example, I think Do What You Do is a classic Paul Cotton song.
PC That is the one Firebird song that Poco do play.
JB You should pitch Donít Stop The Carnival to Santana, make some money!
PC Yeah, he could really go for it. I have a Ricky Martin version too! The song just wrote itself, itís a true story. We just worked it up in my band, it sounds fantastic.
JB I understand you have been playing some solo shows. How have they been?
PC I just went on Arizona television, two weeks ago tomorrow, ĎGood Morning Arizonaí, 9.30 in the morning and several million people saw it! We werenít able to follow it up because we were at a sports club that night instead of something that my audience would go to. The momentum is the thing with me and we havenít quite pieced that together yet.
JB Is Tom Landt involved in your band? Heís a talented fellow.
PC Yes he is. No, Tom is going to retire, heíll be there somewhere down the line. He fitted my music really well, we spent weeks and weeks working on When The Coast Is Clear.
JB We hear about this project from time to time. Is it ever going to come out?
PC I donít know, it may come out on this new Poco owned label.
JB Is it all self-penned material?
PC Mostly, although there is a version of Van Morrisonís Into The Mystic.
JB How do you like being a band leader?
PC It is different in that there is more responsibility, talking to the audiences about the songs. I enjoy it, I really do. Itís very satisfying. Iím always writing, not everything is going to fit the Poco format, Iím an R & B man myself. I can also do the Rock Ďní Roll stuff for Poco.
JB When The Coast Is Clear has a nautical theme, I understand. Is sailing something you have been interested in since you were a young man?
PC No, I moved to Florida in 1987. Lots of big boats down there! I had a break from music and got into something else.
JB Going back to the proposed Poco label, Paul, it seems a really good idea at this stage of your careers. Maybe you are not going to sell millions of records but you will have creative control, thatís got to be healthy hasnít it?
PC I think so, itís the way to go for us. Eliminate the middle-man, thereís very little A & R involved. We are still going to reach our core audience. All we need is the distribution.
JB Itís exciting to have a new record to talk about. Is the band sounding good live?
PC Yes, this is the band!
JB What sort of venues will you be playing in the States?
PC We are at Atlanta in about a month. I think that is a big outdoor festival. Mostly outdoor events, they are all starting to come in now. Itíll be exciting doing radio and promotion again.
JB The age-old question, do you think anything has hit potential on the new record?
PC Rusty has got some very radio worthy things, ah, itís hard to say. I think when this puppy finally gets mixed weíll have a better idea. I think there needs to be some editing too.
JB Certainly in the UK at present there is a lot of interest in Americana, Iím sure Poco would fit into that medium.
PC Oh, I hope so. World tour, weíre ready (tongue in cheek)!
JB Well, one of these days Iíll try and get over to see you guys. Thanks a million Paul, good luck with the new record and your solo career.
PC Thank you so much.

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