Hundreds of gigs, solo and with his new-found bass player and partner, Michelle, had once again established a good reputation. This allowed them to play hundreds more gigs to silly drunks and so-called music lovers. 'Gee Wiz' was, for a while, the hottest act in the ACT.
Realising, as many musos do too late, that playing live won't make you famous, the duo tried continuous attempts at self-promotion. They spent huge chunks of their earnings on recording sessions to try to create a tangible product. They became affiliated with other musicians and producers including the biggest recording studio in Canberra, doing many recordings and promotional videos. They recorded four songs including 'Free Woman' which was placed on a compilation album put out by the studio. The song was voted by Canberra audiences to #7 on the local charts.
The gigs just kept on coming, lining the pockets of their agents, but despite their efforts they couldn't break out of that pub-band syndrome. Paul so desperately wanted his own songs to be requested rather than familiar covers that pandered to people's nostalgia as they clung to musical relics from their past. Alas, the era of originality had long gone.
Paul took another tack. Recording was the answer. Now with two young sons to look after and a hand-built rehearsal studio and PA hire business to manage, it was a perfect time to develop the music that would take the World by storm. And he did, but it didn't. He won a major song competition, run by the studio he'd been recording at, and made front page of the Manly Daily in September '84. ABC TV made a video clip of his song 'Some Better Day' which got aired several times and he had a huge backlog of home recorded songs, enough to fill a dozen albums, but it all turned to custard when his second wife left with his son in '86. He was a good father but he'd been so obsessed with his career he'd been a neglectful partner.
Paul Seymour was born in England, about the same time as Rock'n'Roll was born. At the age of six he came to Australia with his parents and sister. Their first home was in Dee Why on Sydney's beautiful Northern Beaches. Back then the area was a remote under-populated suburb with market gardens everywhere: tomato plants as far as the eye could see! Not like today with its millions of units filled with latter-day Pommy immigrants or single parent families, and its trendy chrome-plated cafes with their over-priced menus to fleece silly yuppies and tourists.
From Dee Why they moved to Narrabeen, a little further north, where Paul invented a time machine, built a TV from cardboard, string and scrap metal, wrote his first play, first symphony, first novel and more importantly, made the decision to become a musical mega-star and save the World. When his parents had the opportunity to buy their first home they took it, which took the family to an even more remote corner of the galaxy called Canley Heights where they were the only family in a street full of brand-spanking-new houses. With deserted streets to ride their bikes on and a creek out the back of their house which wound through hectares of bush, Paul and his sister were in Heaven. Their school was a quaint collection of buildings at the crossroads of two narrow streets in town, where you'd almost expect to see a horse and buggy.
On one bike excursion to to the CBD, ie: the main street with its cake shop, post office, cinema and pub, Paul discovered a dusty old hock shop in a hidden lane way. It was filled with crusty ancient books and tarnished jewellery from long forgotten love-gone-wrong but in the window, gleaming in the afternoon sun were two beautiful old guitars. Forbidden fruit! Rock'n'roll was wicked and The Beatles were still considered long-haired louts, yet Paul already knew his destiny and began saving for the less expensive guitar. When he eventually bought it from that "five and dime", to paraphrase Bryan Adams, he played it til his fingers bled.
These days the school still looks the same but the crossroads are now six lane highways, lined with huge kitchy houses that have Doric columns out front. The once safe streets are, apparently, now ruled by the Vietnamese mafia with regulated crime, gang fights and drive-by shootings. The family's old house looks worse for wear, the bush is now a manicured reserve with only the occasional tree and the creek is now a storm-water drain. Progress sucks!
By the time Paul started high school the family had moved back closer to civilisation and his Dad's work. Boronia Park on the boundary of Gladesville and Hunters Hill, was a nice place to hit puberty. Growing up and growing one's hair was difficult enough in the sixties but when your Mum taught English and History at your school and your headmaster was a prejudiced old fart, it was nigh on impossible yet Paul's hair extended past the legal collar length and beyond, not to mention the side-burns and incipient moustache (a-la Sergeant Peppers) tinted with mascara pinched from Mum's drawer. Being threatened with expulsion and having one's precious guitar fingers caned almost to breaking point by sadistic teachers didn't quell Paul's dream. Eventually his Mum transferred to another school which only made the persecution worse and less than two years later he left school in his final year before the Higher School Certificate engulfed him. To this day he still has nightmares about having to go back to school to finish... something.
It was post-school that Paul's real education began. A friend of a friend he played squash with, played guitar also. Soon, Saturday squash gave way to Saturday jam sessions, earsplitting volume, repetitious riffs that smacked of Deep Purple or Free and original songs that came from the heart of a sincere young man, full of pseudo political comment and know-it-all wisdom. Paul played bass. That first band was called Black Light, then later Melna Gaisma (which is Latvian for Black Light... don't ask). Then later it was changed again to Warlock. After a few embarrassing parties for friends, some high school hops, a couple of lucky support gigs and being runner-up in the Hoadleys Battle of the Bands heat against Sherbet and Jeff St John, the band actually started to get a name around the embryonic Sydney circuit. Alas, to again miss-quote Mr Adams, "Terry quit and Johnny got married, we should'a known we'd never get far... it was the Summer of '72". Rock'n'Roll and Paul were hitting twenty.
Not wasting any time, Paul answered an ad in the 'Herald for a bass-player vocalist. The audition was at an inner city pub which was owned by the father of the lead vocalist. Paul's shoulder length hair, odd shaped bass and a modicum of talent got him the job. Paul hit it off well with the guitarist and drummer but it wasn't long before the three of them realised the singer had little going for him but his father's pub and.. he had short hair!. So they became a three piece band and Paul took over lead vocals. Unfortunately, rehearsals had to move from the inner city to Padstow in south-western Sydney. Bummer.
The band lasted about a year until John, (who got married) from the first band, rang Paul and begged him to audition for his new (cover) band who'd just lost their bassist, with an important band competition coming up. Paul had never played covers before. He joined on Friday, learnt the songs on Saturday and they won the heat on Sunday. The following Wednesday they auditioned for a gig at the Sands Hotel in Maroubra and got it. They went on to win the semis and the finals of the competition (mainly because of the strength of an original song they slipped in) and scored two nights a week at the Seals Club also in Maroubra.
It was soon after that time of sweaty nights and pseudo fame that Paul tumbled accidentally into teaching music. His mother had hoped he'd follow in her footsteps but never dreamt he would be a teacher of guitar and bass. His music school in Brookvale and later in Dee Why (you know, market gardens and yuppy units..) thrived for three years (see Tuition section) until the call of the wild dragged him back screaming at audiences again, with his unique blend of Bowie -esque and Zeppelin-ese guitar and vocal. He nailed it on the North Sydney circuit, becoming one of the more popular performers. While his old friends, like Mark Kitchen (Choir Boys) and Matthew Moffitt, with whom he'd co-written and performed, were struggling to make a crust as original bands, Paul was cleaning up as a soloist compromising with covers. The tables were turned later when Matthew's band, Matt Finish, became one of the biggest in the country. Paul's envy for his friend's success taunted him for years until he learnt of Matt's death.
Many bands, gigs and heart-felt songs later, Rock'n'Roll and Paul hit thirty. He was burned out by the industry that his generation had created. There had been no 'industry' in '72, just guys in bands putting on shows and paying for their own posters which they put up at 3am. By '82 it was a well oiled machine run by greedy entrepreneurs who preyed on the enthusiasm of young musicians. From the wonderful acoustic lounges and music cafes of a more innocent time, live music had moved into the pubs. Alcohol was the fuel of music now. It was great for a while when the lucky few: the 'Cold Chisels', 'Midnight Oils' and 'INXSs' were born but for some who, despite much head bashing and brick wall denting, still hadn't made a dent on the now impervious music industry, it was time to either hang up the axe or take another tack.
A lot has happened since then but not a lot of live playing. The performing urge was always there yet unfulfilled by his own choice. It was hard for Paul to be back in his beloved Sydney seeing lame cover bands and second rate performers playing in venues like the ones he wowed audiences in years earlier. Occasionally he'd jump up on stage with a band and do a song or two but it was cold comfort. The joy of live performing was all but gone.
They say you're only as good as your last show or recording. It may have seemed like the time was right to give up, get a real job, settle down and be satisfied with memories. He actually tried to, ie: got a real job, got married to an old friend.. two years later divorced again! Sad but true. Paul's life is less Bohemian than before but he still has a plan. Since his return to Sydney he's continued writing, taught nearly 1,500 people how to play guitar, written a Music Theory text book plus a book of science fiction short stories, recorded two albums of cover songs for his students and spent two years producing the latest album of original songs. He's also been in a mutually supportive, yet independant relationship for six years and has two canine children.
In December 2007 Paul, his partner, Kelly and their two dogs moved across 'The Ditch' to New Zealand and settled in Christchurch. Paul still teaches guitar and is actively promoting his album which is already getting airplay on two radio stations.
Towards the end of 2008 Paul created a video clip of the song "Underwear (..I love your taste in)" which he uploaded onto YouTube. It was instantly popular. Early in '09 he created his second video effort for the song "Maybe J.C. (was a vegetarian)" and within a month one thousand people had watched it and many had posted very positive comments. Two organisations have put the clip on their web pages, another wants to air it globally on a TV network and another wants to use it for public screening in theatres and at seminars.
The funny thing about history is that it's continuous. Life in New Zealand had settled into a happy routine of Paul's guitar classes, Kelly's work in management for Bunnings, walking their dogs in the forest and on-going work for the the Animal Rights movement by way of Paul's music videos and Facebook contributions.
Then in September 2010 an earthquake tore Christchurch apart, buckled Kelly and Paul's house almost beyond repair and changed their lives forever.
In February 2011 another earthquake killed people in their home city and wrecked their house even further. Two more major quakes and ten thousand aftershocks later, Paul, Kelly and their dogs are still alive and kicking and Paul has written new songs, performed live concerts and still fights daily for the animals and the environment.
more mini albums have been recorded and uploaded to iTunes and other on-line
stores. A third E.P. is ready for release in 2014, featuring a new song:
'Billie Jean & Michael J. (the real story)'.
................................ to be continued
Weeks turned into months then years as the memorable turned into blurred memory of what seemed like just one show being repeated over and over and over, like 'Groundhog Day'. So it went on, way past Rock'n'Roll's fortieth birthday (and Paul's).
Then a cruel stroke of irony ended their endless run of gigs. Too many late nights flogging a guitar for four hours followed by lugging heavy PA bins in icy cold night air had created knots the size of golf balls in Paul's arms and shoulders. Tendonitus took him off the road for nearly two years during which he and Michelle completed a business management course for the marketing of self-designed cards and publications.
They also got heavily involved with the Animal Rights movement. They'd resumed live playing but things had changed and so had they. A decade and a thousand shows after going to Canberra, their relationship failed and Paul found himself back in Sydney, busking for bread, butter and booze on Manly Corso.
With his first guitar
At an inner city gig, 1979
With band: Jaybolo, and in his studio 1983
Concert with John- Paul Young, 1990
Busker/'Biker', 1999 Photo by Rod Gamble from album of early recordings: 'Songs from the Past'
A 'Gee Wiz' communal wiz! 1993 Andrew, Michelle and Paul
They say the best songs come out of heartbreak and despair. Paul reckons that's bullshit! His best songs and hundreds of hours of instrumental ideas had come out of the time he was happiest with his little family and dog. He started teaching again but his heart wasn't in it. As far as writing went he'd hit a dry spell, after wallowing in self pity for a year, until an offer to wear tights and make-up and play silly songs to Canberra audiences snapped him out of it. He joined the cast of 'Dirty Dicks' despite impeccable personal hygeine. He'd never done anything resembling 'Theatre Restaurant' gigs before and working with a cast of prima-donnas and a prancing gay director made it a life-changing experience. In a three month period they performed to over seven thousand politicians, public servants and hospitality workers (the three food groups on the ACT food chain).
After the show finished, Paul continued to bask in the afterglow of that fifteen minutes of fame long enough to establish himself as a solo performer. He was well-known as the Sydney guy with very long hair who did a fabulous version of 'Stairway to Heaven'.