June 1, 2003
Jinelle Boyd interview with Paul Young, of Los
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!