Interview with Paul Young (Los Pacaminos)


June 1, 2003
Jinelle Boyd interview with Paul Young, of Los Pacaminos
Los Pacaminos (a loose translation meaning "to pack 'em in") is the formation of seven incredibly talented Brits who are about to explode on the Texas music scene. Combining a blend of Tex-Mex, Mariachi, Flamenco, Roots music, "and a love of Spaghetti Westerns", Los Pacaminos has created a sound unlike any other we've had the pleasure of hearing. So why, you're asking, do we feel this particular band deserves a closer look? To answer that question, I'll have to take you back momentarily to 1985 when the #1 song on the Billboard charts was "Everytime You Go Away".  Sound familiar? That's 
right - Englishman Paul Young captivated Americans everywhere with his unique
crooning of that number one smash hit. He just so happens to be the founding member of Los Pacaminos, who have created a Tex-Mex sound so authentic, you'll swear they invented it. But don't think this is "The Paul Young Show" - it's the symmetry of seven seasoned veterans of the music scene who have collaborated to bring the world their top-notch Tex-Mex sound. It's this huge leap of genres for Paul that compelled us to find out more.

Wow - from heart-throb pop star in the 80's to smooth Tex-Mex banjo-playing
crooner in the new millenium - that's quite a leap! What's transpired in
your life since your whirlwind popularity over a decade ago?

I had continued success in the UK & Europe thru to the mid-90’s, by 
which time I had also been moonlighting as a Pacamino! I released my 
last PY album in ’97 (I think!), and we recorded the Los Pacaminos CD 
in my basement studio in 90-92. It took a while because we all play in 
other bands or have other work, although we’re keen to go with this 
project all the way if it takes off.

Was there a specific factor that made you decide to leave the pop music world
in favor of OKOM (Our Kind Of Music, as we Texans refer to it)? And how
would you best define the music of Los Pacaminos?

I actually run the two alongside each other (The Pacaminos were the 
opening act on the last Paul Young tour, last year), but this is a 
style of music that I knew I would enjoy playing, and in fact the 
other members of the band like to call it their “therapy”. We hope to 
start in the Tex-Mex area, but also take in any influence from the 
South-West and see what happens from there.

I understand you've always been a fan of this genre of music.  Was it 
difficult to find other musicians in England who shared your passion? What 
backgrounds did ! the other members come from?

It was easier than I thought to find the musicians. Melvin, the pedal 
steel player, came later, but the original band hasn’t altered since 
we started. Apart from the guest musicians on the CD, who will 
occasionally stand in if the A-team member has a logistical problem 
with a show date. All the players have played with me before in one 
line-up or another, and although they all live in London, have 
Scottish, Irish, English, even American roots.

As I'm sure is true for most Texans reading this, it was hard for me 
to imagine a Brit-Tex-Mex band as phenomenal as Los Pacaminos. I think my 
jaw is still on the floor somewhere.  Did you experience any negativity from your close friends/family when you made the decision to delve into this project?

No negativity from friends. Just journalists and members of the public 
who seem to think that it’s ok for a famous movie actor to want to act 
in the theatre, but it’s not ok for a famous musician to want to play 
a different type of music. And why do they think that I’m only allowed 
to do one or the other, but the “actor” can go back & do another movie 
anytime he wants??!! Aaw, don’t get me started on that one; why, for 
two cents I oughta…etc. etc

Each Los Pacaminos song is credited to two or more band members. It 
seems like it would be a challenge to have so many people writing and have 
one point of view lyrically. Do you ever write on your own outside of the 
band, and can you be more specific about how the (songwriting) process 
within the band works?

Ah we just split the remaining royalty to the remaining Pacaminos that 
didn’t write on that song. Generally it’s a two-way split plus a 
percentage to the others: ‘cos we love each other!

When you and the band are in the process of writing, what do each of 
you bring to the table? What are each of your strengths?

Well, I’ve always written with Drew (Barfield), so that speaks for itself. Matt 
(Irving) has always written alone…Drew is a great melody/lyric man, but always 
seems to just have a nugget to work on, so plenty to leave to me. I’m 
a lyric/chord man, Jamie (Moses) is the better musician, so he’ll make us 
sound more pro!

Do you find that the songs were written specifically for the album, or 
did the creation of some songs lead to the birth of others on the project?
There's a beautiful underlying thread between all of them, even though 
each song is unique in itself.

Yes, they were all written specifically for this album. Shadows On The 
Rise and My My My were written first. One of my favorites, Manana, was 
written last only because Drew fancied having one more lead vocal on 
the album. It was the fastest song we wrote! The thread is, that we 
all dream of living down in the South-West somewhere, and voila! Our 
dream becomes a song. Hey, two Englishmen wrote “South Of The Border”, 
probably in much the same way. We have a romantic notion of the South.

Who are some of your songwriting heroes?

Songwriting has come late for me, but I suppose Lennon/McCartney, 
Jagger/Richards have to score quite high. Also Fraser/Rodgers from the 
group Free.

If lead and backing vocals are shared by all band members - who 
exactly are the Pubicares? (cute, Paul, real cute!) They are listed as the 
background vocals on "Handsome Man".

Well I said I’d like us to sound like the Jordanaires (Elvis’ backing 
singers) on this song, and the engineer (Wise Guy) said we sound more 
like…well, you can guess!

I notice in the CD's liner notes that you all thank Barbara Eden and 
the cast of Blazing Saddles.  The latter is quite understandable (probably the 
funniest movie ever) but what's up with Jeannie?

You’d better take that one up with Jamie: I think it’s a boyhood 

I was a teenager when I first heard your music, and was a big fan then.
Hearing (and playing daily, I might add) the Los Pacaminos CD, I find 
that I'm an even bigger fan of this new sound. Do you find that a lot of 
your fans from the "old days" feel the same way?

It’s like the Bible says, “…and some seeds fell on stony ground…”. 
They didn’t all like it, but we won some new fans along the way. It’s 
about 50-50, I guess.

Tell me about the first time you stepped on a stage with this band - 
how long had it been since you'd done live performing? Were you worried about 
what the audience was expecting from you?

No really, I’ve not stopped since the 80’s. And we started real small, 
just played our local bars at first, most all songs were covers, and 
it was just for fun. It just grew from there.

Does it tick you off when the band is performing and an audience is 
more interested in the Paul Young of old, rather than giving the new 
project a chance? Or do you even get much of that?

We did at first, but we just rode it and eventually they came knowing 
what we’re about and they want it that way!

What is the most memorable performance for you with Los Pacaminos?

We played a bar in Germany; confused for the first set, and by the end 
people were slipping over in puddles of beer and writhing about on the 
floor! Interesting…

Recently, a club in Rhode Island featured a Great White concert in 
which the pyrotechnic display caused a deadly fire that claimed almost 100 
lives. While there is a lot of finger-pointing going on right now, whose 
responsibility would you say is the safety of the patrons? Do events like this make 
your band take a careful look at how you approach each performance and each 
venue you play in?

There should be conversations between the stage manager of the venue 
and the road manager of the band as to what the show comprises of, and 
whether the venue can facilitate that show. I’d say a 50-50 
responsibility?  When I’m in a Raging Rock band that uses such pyrotechnics 
I’ll be much more careful!

Tell us about your choice of instrumentation for this album - what an
eclectic mix! Jamie's accordian, your banjo playing, and Melvin's (Duffy)
pedal steel guitar are really a big part of the Los Pacaminos sound.

Well, we can’t do Tex-Mex without an accordion, and it was a welcome 
addition to the sound when we found Melvin. We’ll think about what he 
plays so that it doesn’t always sound like a pedal steel. And I found 
a shop in East L.A. that has been making Mexican instruments for three 
generations, and bought first a Bajo Sexto, then a Requinto. I tried a 
Vihuela, but realized I’d bitten off more than I could chew, and 
anyway it’s an instrument particular to Mariachi, not Tex-Mex.

I was thrilled to hear such Grateful Dead-sounding harmonies in "Two
Margaritas".  You must be pleased with the perfect blend of voices 
that you all possess on that and other songs.  Was it surprising to you how 
perfectly everyone fit together musically when you started this project?

Grateful Dead huh? We were thinking of Bob Wills! But really, the best 
surprise of this line-up was the blend of voices once we all started 
singing together.

The band makes no secret of it's love for tequila - is there a 
favorite brand among you? 

I’ve educated them on the full, 100% Blue Agave; I like Herradura and 

What do you hope people get out of the debut Los Pacaminos album?

Basically: a lot of fun, and for the punters over here, to escape in 
their minds to a place where it’s warmer, and the pace of life is not 
so fast.

What do you see ahead in ten years?

Mixing our sound with a little Calexico, a bit of The Band, and a 
chance to get over there with you guys to soak up a little bit of the 
South! And hopefully a placement in a soundtrack or two…writing for a 

Finally, the question on everyone's mind is, "When will Los Pacaminos 
be touring Texas?" (Or, the Texas girls may be wondering "Boxers or 
Briefs?" which you're also welcome to answer!)

As soon as we can: and it all depends on the tightness of the 
trouser!! (So probably briefs…)

Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to talk with us, 
Paul.  We're proud to add Los Pacaminos to the MyTexasMusic.com family of 
artists!  You're a perfect fit.

Go check out Paul Young and Los Pacaminos on MyTexasMusic!

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