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Paul Raymond has been part of the UFO family for many years now plus he has ventured out with his own band. UFO have just returned from a European tour. (Thanks to Batttttty for this one).

1. What are you currently up to?

I've just returned from a short tour of Europe with UFO, which included a live shoot for our upcoming DVD. After that we went into the studio to record some of our most popular songs with a string section - which will also be included in the footage.

On the home front, I've been working on a solo project entitled 'Secret Life' which I'm just putting the finishing touches to. It's a complete departure from UFO. I've gone back to my roots in jazz and blues.

2. Give us a brief history of your career.

I started out playing jazz piano in the 60's and then moved on to blues with bands Chicken Shack and Savoy Brown. In 1976 I joined UFO. I also enjoyed a spell with MSG, as well as having my own rock band the Paul Raymond Project in the late 80's and early 90's. Now I'm back with my old friends UFO.

3. Who was/is/are the biggest influences on the music you play?

My biggest early influences were Bill Evans and Victor Feldman, two extraordinarily talented jazz pianists. As far as rock and blues are concerned it has to be Chuck Berry and Johnny Johnson, the Stones, and the late, great Steve Marriott.

4. Your solo album will be a very different style to the UFO albums. How do you think UFO fans will react to it?

I'm not kidding myself that everyone who loves UFO is going to embrace this CD with open arms, for example if you have your head shaved, are covered in tattoos, wear Judas Priest T-shirts and ride a motorcycle this is definitely NOT for you! It's a completely different genre of music.

However, I hope that they will give it a listen and perhaps they'll be pleasantly surprised, if not they can always give it to their Granny for Christmas!!! I also have a set of fans who know me only for my piano playing - some of whom come along to UFO concerts!

5. What have been the highlight(s) and lowpoint(s) of your own career to date?

The highlights of my career so far have been Chicago Amphitheatre in 1978 - when we recorded the live album "Strangers in the Night", playing Carnegie Hall with Savoy Brown in 1971 and touring in Japan with MSG, where we had almost God-like status!

The lowpoint has to be at the Nakano Sun Plaza, Tokyo in 1998, when Michael slammed his guitar down and stormed off stage in the middle of the show. It was the worst place he could have chosen to do such a thing as the Japanese are such honourable people and it disgraced the whole band, and damaged our reputation over there irreparably.

6. What would you like to achieve ideally by the end of 2005?

I'd like to have another successful tour of the States, get another UFO studio album in the bag and see my "Secret Life" solo CD knock Rod Stewart's "American Songbook 4" off the top of the Christmas charts!!! (I can dream can't I?)

7. How important do you feel the internet is for promoting your music?

The internet is an extremely powerful marketing tool. It can reach audiences that you would never have otherwise accessed. I am looking forward to putting my material out there and seeing what reaction I get.

8. UFO has had something of a rebirth lately, with the exciting new line-up and the great new album You Are Here. Is the UFO audience the same people who have followed the band since its early days, or are you picking up a new era of fans? And if so, did they know what to expect?

Our audiences are now predominantly male and over 40 (more's the pity!) Most of the people I meet are loyal fans that have been following the band since the 70's. However I've come across guys who have brought their teenage kids along, who absolutely love the music.

9. What has been your most rocknroll moment?

My most rock'n'roll moment that I can put into print is the time at the Hyatt Regency in Knoxville, Tenn. on tour with AC/DC supporting us in 1978, where, egged-on by Andy Parker, I decided it was a really good idea to play the hotel piano at 2am!

After several warnings by security, I was frogmarched away by the police in handcuffs. with Angus Young's words "that's right, take `im away and hang the little f**ker!" ringing in my ears.

Later at the police station, on complaining that I had never been arrested for playing a piano before, the Officer replied in his Southern drawl, "You just played it too damn long, boy!..."

10. Message for your fans?

Thanks to all my fans through the decades for their loyalty, support and enthusiasm. I still love the live vibe and I intend to keep on rockin' for as long as it's fun.

Interview © 2005 Jason Ritchie
Format and edit: The Music Index.

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