Songwriter Paul Carrack talks about good fortune, freedom and the importance of going independent

Paul Carrack
Paul Carrack

A brand-new best-of sees Living Years singer-songwriter Paul Carrack back out on the road for dates including the Hawth, Crawley, on Wednesday, March 4.

“There have been a couple of compilations prior to this one, but I am just trying to bring it up to date a little bit,” Paul says.

“It’s largely stuff from my recent catalogue since I started my own label in 2000. I have included several of the big old hits like Living Years and Over My Shoulder, but really it’s since 2000.”

Starting his own label was partly about control: “That was one aspect to it. But I was at a bit of a career sea change, not going with the major labels anymore and just deciding to go independent and have more freedom in that way. I think it was a good move. The way the music business has gone, I think I was ahead of the game! People do talk about the Carrack model! A lot of artists are going that way because unless you have really major label backing, it is difficult.

“Also I had reached a point where I realised that I had sung and had several hit records for bands and what have you and built other people’s names, but I had very little rights to a lot of those early records. That was another aspect.”

Choosing the tracks for the compilation was certainly an interesting process: “If it was a producer’s choice or a director’s cut, there would be other songs that would be my favourites that are not necessarily the better known ones, but to be brutally honest – and it is a bit of a weakness with me – the main reason for doing this was to have a more mainstream record of my stuff. There was a slight ulterior motive really, just wanting to spread the word.

“Supermarkets have narrowed the field. We have had to let them have the album at a very competitive price, but the main reason for letting them have it was really to maximise the album and, as I say, to spread the word. There are a lot of people that are vaguely familiar with my work. I have got a fantastic hard-core of fans, but I think a lot of people might hear my stuff on the radio and know they like it but might not necessarily identify it with me. We still have tremendous support on the radio. On my current album, we have five tracks on the Radio 2 playlist, which is phenomenal. But there is a tendency for some artists with some music that people do not really register who it is.

“But to be honest, that’s not really a problem for me. I am quite happy with where I am in my career and with my place in the market place. It is not too shabby. I get to play 50-60 theatre shows a year on tour that many people really enjoy. But what you don’t really get as an independent, or very little, is the TV exposure, and that’s a really powerful medium.

“But I don’t look back that much. I have always had to keep looking forward, keep trying to break through or to consolidate. I have had to work hard to keep at it, but that’s OK. I come from very hard-working stock, and I am very happy to have made my career the way that I have.

“But maybe the stuff that I am most proud of is that stuff that I have released since 2000. That’s the stuff that represents what I do, but I am lucky that along the way I have been fortunate enough to be involved with some big hit records. But it’s a different era, and to have five tracks from the current album on the Radio 2 playlist is great.”

At the same time, Paul acknowledges the element that chance has played, the fact that How Long for instance became such a huge song: “It was the first song that I wrote, the first thing that was such a big hit, and yet it is actually a very simple little ditty!”

Tickets on 01293 553636 or www.hawth.co.uk.