INTERVIEW: The Shooting Of | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Paul Jeans, aka The Shooting Of, is nothing short of a musical polymath. A listen to his new album, Analogue Heart, unveils a dexterous mind brimming with ideas, resulting in a beautifully textured display of experimentation.

The Shooting Of isn’t Jeans’ first venture, though Analogue Heart is his first ‘official’ album release under this latest moniker. Jeans has been a fixture on the local music scene (for lack of a better term), for years now. You may know him through his earlier acoustic singer/songwriter offerings under his own name, or perhaps via his Jeans Goes Pop! project; a jauntier, tongue-in-cheek venture. Or there was The Lindsay Tin, a short-lived collaboration with d_rradio’s Paul Christian Patterson that produced a funereal, brooding EP, Shapeless. You may harbour pre-conceptions when approaching Jeans’ new project, but cast them all aside.

“The Shooting Of was me drawing a line under my ‘Paul Jeans’ work. Analogue Heart isn’t the first album I’ve ever recorded, but anything prior to this I didn’t really know what to do with and just sold at gigs. I suppose I’ve disowned those songs now.” Jeans says candidly. “I wanted to get rid of the past and start afresh – I seem to do that whenever I take a U-turn in music and want to do something completely different. If people already think they know what you do and what your music is about, the less inclined they are to pay attention to a new project. For me, it clears my head and puts me in a new space where I can forget the material I’ve written previously.”

If Jeans is the example to go by, then a restless mind is a prolific mind. A multi-instrumentalist, he recorded every single part of Analogue Heart in his home studio, from saxophone (which he only picked up a year ago) to piano. Though some would describe him as a musical savant, Jeans describes himself as “impatient”. “I’ve never been one for learning tonnes of classical pieces on piano, I’ve always been too impatient. That’s why I play lots of different instruments, I always want to be able to play something straight away.” Given the many complex musical layers of Analogue Heart, it’s difficult to imagine how these tracks translate in a live setting without becoming some sort of one-man-band with a monkey and cymbals pastiche, but to label Jeans a one-man-band is to miss the point entirely. “I know I can’t play everything fully live; it’s a more stripped-back version. I try to do as much as I can whilst drawing the line at becoming ridiculous, novelty act territory.”

I wanted Analogue Heart to sound cohesive but disparate; people talk about making an album that sounds like a complete piece of work, but I don’t like the idea of something sounding the same all the way through

After witnessing one of his recent live shows, it’s the audience’s reaction that said it all; quizzical awe at his curious set-up – where Jeans commands two microphones, plays piano, guitar, synth, drums and assorted percussion (with his feet), and samples, often simultaneously – soon turns to raucous approval.

Though Jeans’ live act is something to behold, it’s in his recorded work where the spirit of experimentation truly comes into play. “I wanted Analogue Heart to sound cohesive but disparate; people talk about making an album that sounds like a complete piece of work, but I don’t like the idea of something sounding the same all the way through. I feel like I’ve written different types of songs that somehow link together.”

If there’s one thread that ties Analogue Heart together, it’s that of richly textured, melancholy pop. Opener Bad Times On Horseback is a neurotic, apocalyptic track that jitters with nervous energy: never has a saxophone sounded so foreboding. The Sky Is Full Of Lights is a wonderfully atmospheric, quietly brooding slice of pop noir, while Captain Of My Soul is a percussion-led exploration in paranoia. Then there’s the 80s synth pop flavour of the title track, and the verses of The Beast In Me which hint towards the undeniable influence of David Bowie on Jeans’ work. The balladry of Time is Analogue Heart’s most poignant moment, where his heart-wrenching vocals come to the fore, while The White Hart is a splash of colourful off-kilter pop. The attention to detail is astounding, with each listen revealing a new hidden flourish; a testament to the painstaking amount of hours Jeans has worked to create the record he truly wanted to make.

“The real inspiration behind Analogue Heart was wanting to do something completely for myself. I’ve always felt quite uncool with music, and in the past I’ve tried to put something in my music that is current and people will like, and I think that’s been my downfall. I’ve tried too hard to do something that’s not necessarily the best I think I could do, whereas this record is what I personally would like to hear, as opposed to anyone else. I’ve never truly monopolised on anything I’ve done, which is partly my own fault as I’ve never been confident enough in certain things to stick with them. With Analogue Heart, I had the agenda that people would either like it, or they wouldn’t, and that doesn’t matter. Before I would have been nervous sending it out for review, but if someone says it’s terrible that’s not going to hurt me as I know I’m happy with it.”

Jeans surely doesn’t have to worry about bad reviews; if Analogue Heart is overlooked it would almost be criminal. He remains typically humble about the future of The Shooting Of, explaining he would be more than happy with “modest success”. “I’d like to be noticed a bit, and I’d like to be able to tour to audiences at smaller venues. I’d never want anything bigger than that, I wouldn’t want the pressure! No matter what happens, I’ll always make music. It’s all I’ve ever done.”

The Shooting Of releases Analogue Heart on 4th March and plays Newcastle Castle on Friday 18th March, with support from Minotaurs and Tape Tree.

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