Interviews - From the Early British Blues Scene - Paul Lamb
I have my lovely wife Beckie (she who took the pictures) to thank for turning me on to Paul Lamb & The King Snakes. I've seen them half-a-dozen times or more now, and I'm always knocked out by their musicianship, their deep Blues feel, and Paul's cheeky Geordie humour. It's my humble opinion that they're one of the finest and most entertaining Blues bands in the UK today, so I caught Paul at the end of a gig and asked him if he'd mind my sending him a questionnaire interview. Like the gentleman he is, he readily agreed, and I'm pleased to be able to share the results with you.
It was John Mayall's 'Have You Heard' that first turned you on to the Blues. Can you recall when you first heard that track, how old you were, where you were when you heard it, what it was about it that struck you, and how it inspired you?
I was 14 years old & sitting in my bedroom playing my new records .. it just blew me away. I had to find out more about the harmonica & it sent me on the quest for more knowledge
Your mastery of acoustic harp and your debt to Sonny Terry is acknowledged. But you have a terrific feel for amplified harp too, are there any players you'd name as inspiration for that side of your technique?
Big Walter Horton & Noah Lewis were also favourites of mine.
Music plainly runs in the family, and Ryan's 'Magic' guitar work adds another level of authenticity to your sound. Was he influenced by your musical tastes, or did he find his own way to the Blues?
He certainly heard me playing when he was very young, but I definitely think he has found his own unique sound.
You've recently launched your own label, Big Shed. Are you pleased with the way it's going? And do you enjoy having more control over your recorded output?
Yes, it's definitely the way forward, but it also means more work behind the scenes, ie paperwork.
You've made several live albums, including the latest one at the RAH. Do you prefer live recording to studio? And among all the albums you've recorded, do you have a personal favourite?
My own favourite is “The Blue Album.” I cannot say which I prefer, either studio or live - they are both great in different ways.
A lot's changed in the UK blues scene since you started out, how do you feel about the scene today? And are there any British bands or current UK recordings that you particularly admire? Now we're on the road to Brexit (again!) how does the UK scene compare to the Blues scene in Europe?
The UK scene has changed over the years, the clubs & pubs we started out learning our craft in have long since gone, so it's a lot harder for young bands to play & get paid for a gig.
Europe is still a great market for me & I do hope that Brexit will not affect the border controls, but we will just have to wait & see.
I notice that most UK Blues acts lean towards the rock side, so cannot say I have any favourites.
Your irrepressible Geordie humour often features in your live act, has it always been part of your performance? And does it lose anything in the translation when you play in other countries?
It appears to translate reasonably, it's the music that knows no boundaries .
Though you're first and foremost a Blues man, I hear other styles in your repertoire like 'You Really Got A Hold On Me' and 'The Games People Play.' Do you listen to any other types of music for relaxation? Any personal listening favourites, or songs that have inspired you?
I listen to all types of music genres , especially Classical, but it's the deep Blues that are my roots.
You, Ryan and Chad have all contributed original songs to your repertoire, how do you handle the musical arrangements? Does the whole band work together on a song, or does the author have the last word?
Everyone chips in with their own ideas, but at the end of the day I have the last word!
You've had a long and distinguished career in music, has there ever been a time when you've felt like throwing in the towel? And what made you resolve to carry on?
The playing is always my love , sometimes the travelling gets me down but “Doctor Stage” gets me through ..I guess I still have the spirit.
Is there anything you've done that you're disappointed with, or would like the opportunity to do again?
In a life spent in the Blues, what's your proudest achievement? And do you still have any goals that you haven't achieved already?
Proudest achievements...must be playing & meeting up with my Blues heroes …
Finally, do you have any advice for any young hopefuls wishing to follow in your musical footsteps?
Follow your dreams , Play what you feel & feel what you play.
Many thanks Paul, and thanks too for all the hours of listening pleasure you've brought me. I hope you and your band will keep on playing your Blues and entertaining us all for many years to come.
© Stevie & Beckie King 2019 for the British Blues Archive
Learn more about Paul Lamb & The King Snakes here: www.paullamb.com