Biography of Paul Roberts & Soulsec

It has often been said that The Stranglers are probably one of the most enduring bands of the UK punk/new wave era, while at the same time, being one of the least celebrated. By the middle of 1990, and the completion of the tenth studio album "10", Hugh Cornwell thought that the band could, artistically, go no further. August 11th saw the last performance of The Stranglers with Hugh, at the Alexandra Palace in London. At this point, the others had seen no hint of Hugh's pending departure, and only found out after the show...

In the aftermath of his sudden departure, the rest of the band concluded that they disagreed with Hugh's assessment of the meninblack’s prospects and decided to continue, albeit in a new format. The first new recruit was John Ellis. John had both associated, and collaborated with the band for many years in one way or another, and had joined the band's live set as an additional guitarist during the "10" tour. As an established member of the Stranglers’ extended family, John was the obvious choice as the new guitarist. Although some demo tracks were recorded with the band in this format, it was decided to look for a singer. A number of familiar names became associated with the search, most notably Dave Vanian of The Damned and Ian McNabb of The Icicle Works. During auditions, the band soon came face-to-face with one Paul Roberts, who brashly proclaimed "I'm your new lead singer!” Upon hearing his wide vocal range and technical ability, the band agreed that he was their man, and The Stranglers MK II were born. The new line-up now presented a completely different (and more dynamic) image, with Paul a mic-swinging, air-punching, shirt-ripping front man, bursting with energy and humour. There is no doubt he gave the band a welcome kick up the backside, and his stage presence and energy won him rave reviews all over the world.

With such a wealth of ideas and song writing ability, 1999 saw Paul decide to launch his own solo career in tandem with his official Stranglers duties. That spring saw Paul release his first solo single, entitled “God”*, and such was its success that The Faithband was formed and the release of his first solo album, 'Faith?' soon followed.

* “God” had been showcased by The Stranglers during the 1993 tour, its title then being “(This) God (is Mine)”, but was never recorded.

Faith? was a sublime collection of material encompassing full frontal rock assaults, fat in your face dance tracks, and gentle ballads – with ‘Postcard’ becoming an instant classic.

Joining Paul in this venture were Richard Naiff of The Waterboys and Brad Waissman of the up and coming Joff Winks Band (and former Waterboy himself).
As well as working with Paul, Brad had also teamed up with Marcus Malone, a blues/rock singer from Detroit, worked on the soundtrack for Metroland (starring Emily Watson and Christian Bale), recorded tracks for two Rick Wakeman albums (‘White Rock II’ and ‘Themes’), and has also supported B.B. King, Nina Simone and Ben Harper to name but a few. Both proved to be an integral part of the band in its early guise, and Brad has been a regular in the studio & on stage ever since. In the live arena, Paul was joined by John Ellis – rekindling the great Stranglers partnership – and Vinnie Lammi on Drums, who later went on to work with the likes of Supergrass & Melanie C.

During 2000, as well as taking The Faithband out on the road, Paul had an awe-inspiring guest appearance on Judge Smith's epic, 'Curly's Airships', working with the likes of Peter Hammill and Arthur Brown. A rock-opera presented in the style of Tommy & War of the Worlds, Paul's vocal range on this double CD set is an enchanting display, and well worth tracking down.

2001 saw the release of the band's second album 'Self Discovery', and a live album recorded at a special Charity gig for Prostate Cancer. A one night only West End stage appearance followed shortly in 'All You Need ....', a unique event celebrating the life and music of John Lennon, where he worked alongside the legendary 'Quarrymen'. At London’s Palace Theatre, during the weekend of the Twentieth Anniversary of Lennon's death, special guest Paul Roberts stole the show, bringing the capacity crowd to their collective feet and dancing in the aisles.

In the spring of 2002, Paul asked fans to promote several acoustic gigs around the country, which initiated the hugely popular 'Peoples' Acoustic Faith Tour'. Paul and Richard, joined by [then] new Strangler Baz Warne, travelled across the UK playing highly entertaining shows in a myriad of pubs, clubs and hotels. Indeed, such was the success of this tour that, in the autumn of that same year, they hit the road again for the follow up 'Set In Stone' Tour. The third studio album, 'The Pressure Sensitive', was released in 2003, and is undoubtedly one of Paul’s most accomplished works to date, with the tracks Wrong Connection, 8 Days and Shame of the Father being exceptional highlights. By the time this album was released, the Faithband were getting the credit they richly deserved.

A long break then ensued, as Paul worked tirelessly with The Stranglers, co-writing and recording the bands highly acclaimed album Norfolk Coast. Paul’s vocal display on this album has been hailed by many as his ‘finest hour’ with the band. Indeed, the first single off the album, ‘Big Thing Coming’, was their first Top 40 hit in over a decade. The Stranglers then spent the majority of 2004 touring the world, whilst the beginning of 2005 was also a very busy time as they hit the festival circuit. However, Paul still found time to work on his solo projects, and whenever he wasn’t performing with The Stranglers, he hit the road again with Brad, Richard and (following the departure of John Ellis from both The Stranglers & The Faithband) newcomer Andy Ellis on guitar. Andy had played in numerous bands including Worcestershire based 'Jigsaw', biker rock band 'No Respect' and sessioned for Oxfordshire’s 'Mr J'.
In 2003 Andy gained a distinction grade at the 'Brighton Institute of Modern Music' (BIMM) where he then became a teacher working with the likes of Carleen Anderson (Brand New Heavies), Alex Dickson (Robbie Williams’ Band), Rob Harris (Jamiroquai), Mark Richardson (Skunk Anansie / Feeder) and – not forgetting - Paul Roberts himself.

Andy has written articles for Total Guitar magazine and has tuition books and CD's published with Sanctuary - 'Xtreme Electric Guitar' and 'Xtreme Acoustic Guitar'. He enjoys teaching group guitar and live performance workshops at BIMM whilst offering private lessons and advice in all aspects of music and computing.

It was at this point that The Faithband underwent a name change, becoming SOULSEC.

“The first CD was called FAITH?, and after public demand I had to put a band around it and thought that the CD title was adequate” Paul reflected, “It did not bother me at the time and actually I thought that it reflected my feelings, however I grew tired of it and felt the time was right for a re-brand”.
Soulsec performed a numbers of gigs across the UK in 2005, including a 5th anniversary show at London’s Borderline, and their first ever foreign shows in Belgium at the Rockardinal and KortROCK festivals.

By the end of the year, work had begun on the follow up to Norfolk Coast. However, life was becoming a little unsettled for Paul in the Stranglers camp - and things just weren’t gelling as they once used to. After a near fatal car crash on the night of December 18th, Paul decided that maybe the time had come for him to move on.
A stressful & emotional few months ensued and on May 4th 2006, and after much soul searching, Paul left the band after 16 years of service.
(According to his former colleagues, Paul’s stint with the Stranglers was actually longer than that of his illustrious predecessor, Hugh Cornwell).

Paul immediately threw himself into the studio to record the aptly titled ‘Endgames’ (a subtle nod to his final weeks with the Stranglers perhaps?), his first release under the Soulsec banner. Point of fact, most of the material featured on this album was created from original ideas penned for ‘Suite XVI’ (the follow up to Norfolk Coast) – some of which were put forward & rejected, others which were not put forward at all.
‘Endgames’ saw Paul take his writing & production to the next level. Paul composes with an eclectic range of taste on virtually every instrument he touches, and both his timing and vocal delivery on this disc are exquisite. Highlights include the wonderful ‘Sad Soft Lullaby’, the haunting ballad of ‘Make Believe’, and the single ‘Desert Soul’ (which was released just prior to Paul’s departure from The Stranglers in March 2006)

Since his departure from The Stranglers, Paul has graced the Edinburgh Festival, performed in London’s West End, and appeared in a number of theatrical productions around the UK – notably in Richard [The Rocky Horror Picture Show] O’Briens: ‘Mephistopheles Smith’, ‘The Art of Love’, (a modern cabaret musical based on Ovid’s Ars Amatoria), and as Pop Larkin in the musical version of the classic ‘Darling Buds of May’. He has also made select appearances on the big screen and on terrestrial television, appearing in shows including Cranford, Holby City & The Bill.

Music, however, is still his first love – and Paul continues to write and record on a regular basis. In 2007, Paul sold out London’s 100 Club with a special ‘Thank you to the fans’ show. The gig, billed as ‘Black In Town’, featured many songs that he wrote/co-wrote during his tenure with the band. (‘Sinister’, ‘In Heaven She Walks’, ‘Heaven or Hell’ and ‘Golden Boy’ to name but a few). An added bonus at this event was the one-off reappearance of John Ellis on guitar.

The spring of 2009 saw Paul & Andy embark on Soulsec’s first tour of the USA, - albeit in the acoustic two-piece format. It was a great success, with the shows being performed on both the East & West coasts. It is hopeful that at some point in the not too distant future, the full electric band can also 'strut their stuff' across the pond!

August will see the [long awaited] release of Paul’s first ‘official’ album (via Lumi Entertainment / Universal) entitled ‘States Of Play’.
'States Of Play' (the name given to the aforementioned tour of the USA) is a compilation package showcasing the very best of Paul's work since 1999, and features tracks from ‘God’ through to ‘Shine’ (which featured on the 2008 EP ‘5,4,NOW!’).
With numerous projects on the go – and more gigs planned soon – the future certainly looks bright for Paul & Soulsec…..

And thus, the adventure continues……