The Henry Paul Interview
As far as Henry Paul is concerned, he’ll be doing this rock and roll thing until he’s 75. A founding member of The Outlaws, main man of the Henry Paul Band, and co-creator of Blackhawk, Paul is 67 and sees no reason to stop.
The legendary Southern Rock icon gave freely of his time to Vintage Rock at the tail end of a bunch of Outlaws shows marking the band’s 40th anniversary. The band also has a live album, Legacy Live, they're supporting.
So you are pretty much done with the tour?
I just got home from a grouping of about five shows, we got a couple more, then we are done hopping all over hell’s creation as we have been for the past 12 .months.
These days you do double duty, touring the Outlaws and Blackhawk. How do you keep that together?
Well, I think it ends up being more Outlaw shows than Blackhawk in the end. There’s usually more Outlaw dates on the books. But both groups pull pretty good popularity wise throughout the U.S.
Do you find one part of the country favoring one band over the other?
Yes, both bands have a very specific strong regional following. The Outlaws do very well in Florida, and up and down the Northeast corridor, where Blackhawk does great in Ohio, the Dakotas, Montana, and the upper Midwest.
So you got lots of ground covered.
Exactly. The main thing is you don’t wanna take this or that band and beat either down year after year. It’s important to me that we do "x" amount of shows, make a living so that everyone can comfortably share in the revenue. But beating the life out of any project with a heavy touring schedule just will kill a band eventually, I feel.
And in the case of the new live album, Legacy Live, you are also releasing music as well as touring.
Well, in the case of the live album, we‘re hearing from our fans how much they love it, how they feel it sounds so good, which makes me very happy and humbled to hear. I love engaging our fans with new musical intellectual property.
Does that mean, that contrary to popular musical business paradigm, you want to release new music in the future…and on CD?
The Outlaws core audience is not so predisposed to the technology of the moment, they want a CD to hold in the hands, play in their car, something they can get a signed copy of. And for us, selling CDs is still a significant part of our business model. I remember with Arista selling 500,000 of the first album, you maybe got some publishing royalties but no real money from the label, even with half a million albums sold. These days, we sell a smaller amount of CDs, but we split the money equally and everybody gets to share in that revenue stream. And the band has new music to play — not just show up and play “Green Grass and High Tides” — new music that the audience and band are excited about.
So, will we see new music from the Outlaws in the new year?
Yes, in the new year we are planning to release new music.
I think people think of you and your career as centering around Florida, but you actually came up to Greenwich Village back in the late 60s to try and break into the business, right?
Actually, my family lived pretty close to Woodstock when I was in my teens, in the same town as Bob Dylan when he lived in New York State. His house was like 15 minutes from our house. I grew up as huge fan of his, the whole folk singer, songwriter thing; I’d get into being in a band a bit later. So I breezed into the Village in the late 60s attempting to launch my career, playing places like Cafe Wa, The Gaslight, playing solo and featuring my songs. But then a significant opportunity opened up for me in Florida, kind of like that old joke, you go where the food is; I went where the opportunity was. But down there it was a band thing happening, so I came up with the logo, invented things, formed the band, making my vision happen through a group effort, which with the Outlaws, the Henry Paul Band, Blackhawk has always been the way it has been for me.
And you’ve even come and gone with some of these bands from time to time. Might I delicately ask why?
My survival with the Outlaws, when I came to leave them, was, well, I felt the ship was taking on water, so to speak. It was unsavory, difficult at the time. So instead of throwing in the towel I just took out a hammer and nails and built a new ship. I wrote songs, looked for a new label and came out with Grey Ghost under the Henry Paul Band. Then I got into Blackhawk, just seeing other opportunities, just following my vision as always. But then the southern rock thing hit the wall in 2005, 2006 and I thought again, "Well here we go. I can open the door to another opportunity." So I went to Nashville, began writing songs there looking for a new career, making shit up all again to see if I could make it happen.
And now you’re round back again these days with the Outlaws.
I was approached a few years back and it seemed I needed to be involved with the band or it wasn’t going to happen. Writing new music, nurturing the fan base, that means a lot to the people who support the group and means a lot to me personally. I wanted that warm and fuzzy feeling of good will between us all again.
So it goes on until…
I set a goal for myself at 65 that I’m gonna do this 10 more years. I mean, yes 75 sounds kinda old, Jagger just turned 73, right? But if you look at the style of music that we do, it ages well. It’s why people like Willie Nelson can still be out there; like him, what we do is not predicated on a fashion show. Just as long as we are singing and playing with integrity, being respectful to the songs, and the audience is still coming, I can certainly keep doing this for a while.