The Untitled Interview #12: Starring Paul Draper (ex-Mansun)

When I was 17 and firmly entrenched in the belief that any band from Britain was far better than any band from anywhere else, there was one band that really wowed me, really knocked my socks off, more than any other. That band was Mansun. Here was a band, I reckoned, that had “it,” something very special. They concocted songs about a fantastically twisted sort of British life, slightly sinister modern folk tales gone awry about stripping vicars and the like. Everything they did was done with panache, and even when the ferociously fickle music press was abouting face and doling out low blows, Mansun kept churning out great music, to the delight of their fanatical fanbase.

Six, the album which from what I remember did not fare well critically, still sounds remarkably ahead of its time even today, ten years after its release. I loved it then, and I love it possibly even more now. If you’ve never given a listen, there’s no time like the present to make amends. Paul Draper, Mansun’s former frontman and songwriter, has kept on making music of his own. You can and should give him a listen, too, and check his blog for updates and musings. In the spirit of Six’s tenth anniversary, I asked Paul some questions. After reading what he’s got to say, check out a clip of his favorite song to perform, taken from the V2000 festival.

Les Enfants Terribles: How the hell are you?
Paul Draper: Very good thanks. A bit tired from recording, but apart from that, relatively healthy.

LET: What was the last song you listened to?
PD: I listened to the Elbow album this afternoon, Seldom Seen Kid. Can’t remember what the last track was I listened to on it.

LET: The 10th Anniversary of Six is upon us. How do you think the album has aged, and are as happy with it now as you were then?
PD: I listened to it for the first time to jog my memory for the blog. It doesn’t sound ten years old. I don’t remember being too happy with it at the time but it sounded good when I listened back to it.

LET: Playing music is _________.
PD: A vocation I think. I don’t know why I’m compelled to do it, it’s something about getting something from the inside to the outside I think. Also it’s cathartic for me, lyrically that is.

LET: What album most made you realize that you wanted to make music?
PD: I think some of the Prince albums from Dirty Mind to Parade, I was amazed how he put his records together.

LET: Beatles or Stones?
PD: Beatles. I loved the Beatles when I was a kid and owned every track on vinyl, they were my first obsession as I was a song lover, not a band lover. I’ve grown much fonder of the Stones over the years though.

LET: What're your top 5 albums (of this minute, this year, or ever)?
PD: Kate Bush - Lionheart
Beatles - Abbey Road
Prince - Purple Rain
QOTSA - Songs for the Deaf
Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bollocks

LET: Favorite music-related movie?
PD: "Purple Rain" or "Spinal Tap".

LET: What’s your favorite song to perform in concert?
PD: “Wide Open Space”.

LET: How many instruments do you play (proficiently and/or recreationally)?
PD: I’m crap at all of ‘em!! but have turned my hand to everything on record.

LET: Please explain your typical (if there is such a thing) songwriting process, and how you know when a song is ready:
PD: I mess around with chords and hum over them and collect all the ideas on a dictaphone. Then I glue ‘em all together in a structure then get my notebook out, by this time I have an idea for the lyrical direction and I make it work with the music.

LET: Half-full or half-empty?
PD: I used to be a half-empty person, but now I’m a half-full person, or trying to be.

LET: Apart from you, of course, who among your peers do you think is making the best music these days?
PD: Hmm, I like the Elbow and Radiohead albums and I like the last Joana Newsom album.

LET: What's the first thing you think when you wake up in the morning?
PD: I always go over events from the past, square them up and get on with things.

LET: The greatest record store in the world is:
PD: Cob Records in North Wales.

LET: What do you think of the beast we know as the music industry these days? And how does it differ from the days when Mansun was first releasing music?
PD: Well it’s more difficult to become massive because it’s all so fractured nowadays, but it’s easier to do your own thing because you can get your music out via the net very easily these days.

LET: What's the longest flight you've ever been on?
PD: One time going to Tokyo the airplane had to make an emergency landing at a military base, we couldn’t get off because there was no immigration, then the flight crew had to be changed as we'd been on the plane too long. Finally, when they got a new crew flown to the base and we did the last half hour of the flight to the airport we'd been on the plane a day and a half without getting off.

LET: Shaken or stirred?
PD: Shaken, only coz that’s how Bond has it.

LET: Best song ever written?
PD: “Man with the Child in his Eyes”, Kate Bush, that’s just for today.


  1. I am suprised at how unsurprising Paul's music tastes are. It's awesome to catch up with such a talented artist all of these years later.


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