It may not be the most obvious choice to dedicate your debut album proper to the work and life of somebody else entirely, but that’s exactly what Glasgow songwriter Paul McGranaghan has done. Carry the Torch, out this week via iTunes, was inspired by Hunter S. Thompson – a combination I would have been intrigued by even if I wasn’t previously aware of McGranaghan’s work, having caught him at an intimate acoustic performance organised by that Peenko fella a couple of years back.
Paul was kind enough to answer some questions for me too.
How did you get started writing music and performing?
I started learning guitar at 14 and I was fortunate enough to be able to play by ear which helped greatly, once I picked up a few chords was flying really. I joined a band at 17 and the writing bug bit me, it was probably bringing songs in and seeing them transform into the finished article that was just mind-blowing.
Three words to describe your sound…
Melodic, intimate and honest.
What influences you?
I think when I’m normally struggling for ideas I either listen to as much music as possible or watch movies and read as much as I can, it tends to start creative sparks going and before you know it you’ve got something to work with again. Listening to a mix of both my favourite songwriters like Neil Young, Prince or Elliott Smith alongside someone that I’ve never heard before acts as a great catalyst.
I’m intrigued/excited by the idea of an album you describe as “influenced by the work and writings of Hunter S Thompson”. How did that come about? Did you already have songs to fit the theme?
I had up until this album almost always written about my own experiences first hand and I felt I wanted to go somewhere different, at the time I was reading The Curse Of Lono by Thompson and when I finished it I thought it would make a good story to music and also fun to see if I could do it I guess. I had no desire at that point that to make an album or even an EP but the more I read of Hunter’s work the more appealing it became and after writing around three songs I thought an album worth would be something great to build towards.
Do you have anything exciting planned for the album release, or anything else you would like to tell us about?
I’m working on some video concepts for a couple of the songs at the moment and would like to get them finished before the physical release at the end of October. I’m also in the middle of planning a launch night for around the same time with a full band so keep an eye out for that one and then some more dates all over the UK hopefully.
And what are you listening to at the moment?
Songs I really like are that Haim song “Forever” – it reminds me of being 6 years old; also Dylan’s “Duquesne Whistle” is great, his voice is brilliantly fucked. I think Jack White’s album is really good, the sound he gets on all his stuff is just inspiring.