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
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?'
* “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
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
“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
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……