Paul Bowe In Conversation About New Federal Charm
BD: Paul thank you for taking time to chat with Bluesdoodles once again. It was back in 2016 before the Roadstars tour that we last talked and a lot has happened in the Federal Charm world since then.
BD: Since that tour and the release of the acoustic album, things went quiet and we were not seeing or hearing much about Federal Charm. Now you are back on the road with a mix of keeping the old and bring in the new. With vocalist Tom Guyer & drummer Josh Zahler joining the mainstay of yourself and LD Morawski on Bass. Has the change of band members altered/developed the Charm’s sound? Are you still Nu-Blues or more rock?
PB: When the tour ended we never expected to replace Nick. It has been a crazy time. The sound will be a melding of blues and rock. In fact, it is our sound on steroids. Federal Charm has gone through an unexpected period of development. With new members in Federal Charm, we have worked hard introducing the new band to sing the old songs which are favourites with the fans. It has been hard work getting the ball back rolling. It was for me so difficult to see Nick go. Tom Guyer is younger 23/24 his voice is insane and his talents are immense. His voice is unique very different from Nick, a cross between Plant & Cornell. It is taking Federal Charm in a new direction old numbers from previous albums sound different. Silhouette, for example, has been taken to a new place. I didn’t expect this, I wasn’t looking for either. The sound is really good it is heavier but still definitely melodic and rootsy inspired rock.
We still have the Fender / Les Paul combination and that is not going to change it was and still is my vision of Federal Charm. With Tom and Josh in the band it feels a lot easier they are not replacing Nick and Danny but new members with new ideas. There was no planning Nick leaving it was something he had to do we are still good friends. I feel that Nick leaving and Tom coming in there must be a reason for it. We had just finished the Planet Rock Tour, we were at a peak. Planet Rock had picked us up. The stress was mounting and it was just a step too far for Nick – too much.
BD: Has the change of personnel and the change of management had a positive effect on the band?
PB: Yes, it has had a positive effect the dynamics have changed. Federal Charm we believe have not reached our full potential and this Spring tour plans for 2018 and the new album. Federal Charm has the potential to reach the heights with the right chances and packaging. To succeed bands need internal harmony; we have that and the talent. Federal Charm like many bands have loads of talent and motivation. It is hard work and difficult to get to know each other and the new line-up is determined to break the barrier. We are going to continue to work hard and rise above the challenges the new members have given us the extra kick and energy required. Opening for bands last year was an opportunity to road-test the new line up with new material and old favourites. It was good fun, introducing the sound to new audiences. It is amazing you open for a band and gets to play to new audiences. Nice surprise to see new people even when you have played the same venue many times before. Federal Charm produced two albums over five years from 2013. Now we have a third album in the pipeline, due to be released late autumn 2018. We have new management and April Tour dates which are about telling people we are back out playing live. We have some summer festivals and an exciting new tour that will be announced very soon. So lots happening at Federal Charm so keep checking we have news. So yes the change of drummer and vocals is a development of the sound and very positive.
BD: Federal Charm is back on the road with a headlining tour this Spring following the success of high profile support slots through 2017. Why should fans of the old Federal Charm and gig-goers who have not caught up with you yet make a slot in their diaries this Spring when you visit Norwich, Bristol, Manchester & Newcastle.?
PB: To meet the new Federal Charm. It is different. So do come and support us and hear old songs and the chance to hear music from the forthcoming album. We will entertain you with rootsy rock and our charming style. Federal Charm is determined to be noticed in 2018 and these four gigs are the starting point. Catch up with the new sound now.
BD: Federal Charm is back in the studio making album number three and the first with the new line-up. Will the album be crammed with new gems form Federal Charm? Will we be hearing new tracks when you are on the road?
PB: The new album is completely Federal Charm – mark 2. Twelve fresh tracks full of new gems. The previous two albums (Across The Divide & Federal Charm) were deadline albums. This new album we are taking time so some of the songs are what Nick & I wrote in 2016. Into this mix, we now have Tom on vocals having taken over the role eighteen months ago. We have a demo and worked on each song, it is a meticulously produced album. Yes, the show will be a mix of half old numbers and half new tracks. There will be the first single from the album with video out in March heralding the album.
BD: Talking about the album, have you a title and release date for an album which I am sure that your fans are waiting for with anticipation. Will the album be guitar led or vocally led by your new singer?
PB: Title not been decided, ideas have been bounced about. And discussed. We know what the album will look like and have two or three ideas. We have time the album will be out in Autumn and everything is being considered not rushed. The album will make great Christmas presents! Narration for the album is informed by 2017 it was a complicated year with Nick then Danny leaving who I have known for twenty-five years. It was right for them to leave. 2017 was an extremely difficult year. It cannot be taken for granted how long it takes to rebuild, putting the band back together, it cannot be rushed. Last December we ended on a high with a gig with Slade. Then January 4th I was left thinking where do we go from here what happens next.
BD: Talking about the album, who is the main songwriter on the album and are there any influences that are shaping the album?
PB: The album is balanced every track has a different character. You hear the sound of Federal Charm throughout the album. Tom’s vocals are very powerful in a different way from Nick’s vocals. Nick can never be replaced he had unique vocals, the highlight was when we opened for Mott The Hoople at Shepherds Bush when Mick Ralphs said to Nick his voice was the best thing he had heard since Paul Rogers. When you are compared to one of your heroes it is a moment that will always be a highlight in your life.
This album is more collaborative. LD has been involved with lots of ideas unbeknown to us. On his computer, he had loads of ideas and patterns on file musical sketches gathered over the years. So I had the brief for deciding if using the ideas if not immediately Federal Charm sound then it goes into the bin. Some of the ideas and patterns are amazing in fact I wish I had thought of them. Josh our drummer has a freedom of expression tasteful with a great groove. This is a new beginning, new start for Federal Charm. Outside influences, I do listen to a lot of music and all of the band members have different tastes. I tend not to seek out new stuff Josh is into funky Motown sound and Tom loves Rock N Roll currently raving about Leeds based band Fizzy Blood. These influences inform the music but we are always looking to produce the sound that defines Federal Charm.
BD: Last time we chatted we heard about the band of your choice this time what music will be on the tour bus keeping you entertained travelling from town to town?
PB: For me, it will be the music of the sixties and seventies, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, in fact, all of their albums. Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Wishbone Ash – Argus album. Everyone gets a chance to play their choice of music on the bus as we travel. We have different tastes so makes for an interesting mix.