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28th April 2007
METAL DISCOVERY: Have you always had an interest in art?
MD: Your medium is definitely digital art?
MD: So are there any contemporary artists who inspire you to do the art you do?
MD: Maybe some subconscious influences…
MD: I gather you’ve always had an interest in the martial arts as well from an early age, and you’re a martial arts instructor too…
MD: Do you get much time to pursue that interest?
MD: Apart from when you’re playing a gig.
MD: Is that quite a cathartic thing to do then, like a release from Cradle and touring and…
MD: So it’s a spiritual thing as well as a…
MD: What kind of martial arts do you do?
PAUL ALLENDER: Erm…to be perfectly honest, I don’t know. Yeah, I have, but I’ve not really…I mean, I can draw, sort of, I don’t really…I’m not the world’s best sketcher, and then I paint and it didn’t look right, and I thought ahh, this is doing my head in. Then all of a sudden I was introduced to computers and Photoshop. Then next thing I know, I’m practising doing stuff and then next thing I know these pictures start coming up, and then all of a sudden I realise I can actually put down what I’ve got in my head. You know, I don’t have to draw it.
PA: Yeah, totally, totally. I mean I do…if I want texturing, I’ll do it with a brush and tea bags and all that sort of stuff. I’ll completely get hands on and like mess stuff up if I need textures, and then I scan them in.
PA: No, not really. Just…I’m not really into any artists as such you know. I just basically sit in front of a blank canvas and just go for it. I haven’t got a clue…sometimes I haven’t got a clue what this is going to look like in the end – I just make it up as I go along.
PA: Yeah, most probably. [laughs]
PA: Yes.
PA: Er, sometimes. I’ve turned my garden into a dojo basically. My wife wasn’t too happy about it, but…[laughs] But I’ve completely patioed the whole…got rid of all the grass, got rid of the whole thing - the whole thing’s patioed. You know, and I’ve got all my training bags and everything all up out there so I pretty much go out there every night and do my stuff. I teach on a Sunday. On Sunday lunchtimes, I teach down the club for like two hours a time.
PA: Well obviously, yeah. I teach privately as well.
PA: Erm…I don’t really see it as a release…to be honest, I’ve been doing it for so long I don’t know any different. You know, I started it when I was 6, so I really don’t know anything different. And the discipline that is actually like injected into me is second to none – it’s brilliant. You know, god knows what I would have been like if I hadn’t had that discipline. And what I’ve learnt through the discipline and seeing things through, I put it into my work.
PA: Oh absolutely. Yeah, absolutely.
PA: It’s called…I started off doing Wado Ryu, traditional, for about ten years. Then I went into…what did I go into?…Wado Ryu Sport Karate and did a few competitions here and there for a laugh, and I wasn’t sort of really like into that – it was like, it was okay, but I wanted to get a bit more nitty-gritty. You know, and then I did Wing Chun and Seven Star Praying Mantis for about a year apiece just so I could do something a bit different. And now I’m doing a style called Yoseikan – it’s a mixture of Karate, Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Aikido; it’s a mixture of the whole lot. And then when I took time out from doing that to do the Kung Fu, I’d basically taken the Chinese principles and put it all into the whole Japanese stuff that I’ve learnt and sort of devised sort of my own style, and it works a treat.
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Paul onstage at Biirmingham Academy, 18th December 2006
(Paul Allender on his attitude to fame)
"I don’t consider myself famous – far from it. Absolutely far from it. To consider yourself famous in my books is being pretentious."
MD: Do you have a name for your own style?
PA: No, not yet. We’re actually gonna…we’re trying to set up our own association at the moment so…I mean it’s good because we don’t practice fighting against other martial artists, we practice fighting against street fighters. You know, and there’s a lot of downfall. There’s one problem with martial arts which is like when kids or people get into it who have never done it before just ‘cause they can fight against another martial artist and score a quick point and just come back again, they think that’s the be all and end all of it. Whereas it took me at least twenty years for the button to click.
MD: Do you think it’s a good interpretation of learning the skill in the first place, and then sort of interpreting it to…
PA: Yeah, yeah, it’ll take you at least a good…like starting from a young age, the penny never really dropped for me until about five years ago. And that’s when, all of a sudden, the penny dropped, I completely understood what the whole thing was about and now, when I go into fighting mode, the body just lights up like a bloody Christmas tree…all these points and stuff just like begging me to hit them! [laughs]
MD: Do you ever get any Cradle fans coming to you asking to be instructed?
PA: I have done on MySpace, which is a bit stupid really considering they were American. I said what are you gonna do, like fly over to England just for an hour’s session then go back again?! [laughs]
MD: If they’re willing to pay the money, then…
PA: Oh, if they want to pay the money then absolutely I’ll do it.
MD: Do you consider yourself to be famous and do you get recognised much?…you sort of touched on that earlier when you said…
PA: No, I don’t consider myself famous – far from it. Absolutely far from it. To consider yourself famous in my books is being pretentious, absolutely pretentious.
MD: Good answer.
PA: You know, not at all, at all. When I go out and the odd person every now and again will say "ah, you’re so and so", and I will stop and give them the time of day because it’s just like the decent thing to do ‘cause if it wasn’t for the fans of the band, we wouldn’t be where we are now, and you have to actually respect that. So I will stop and say how’s it going…photographs signed…I’ll stop for a good like twenty minutes and talk to them just about general shit really just ‘cause they want to talk to me. But I won’t put myself out to say I’m so and so from this band and that band and blah, blah, blah…
MD: Because that’s pretentious…
PA: Yeah, totally. I’m totally not into that.
MD: So if you went out the front of Rock City now and walked along the queue, would you sort of expect to be recognised?
PA: No, not at all. I’d make sure I walk on the other side of the road as well. It’s not the fact of trying to avoid them, you know, because usually at the moment I can actually go…I’ve always walked up when I’ve wanted to go out and get some food or something, sometimes I’ve had to walk past the queue. I’ve walked past the queue and they haven’t even batted their eyelids – they haven’t got a clue who I am! Which is brilliant, you know. But I’m not gonna go and say oh, hi, do you want so and so because I’m this – that’s just like total head up your own arse, like rock star, and it’s disgusting! [laughs]
MD: You’ve said already you’ve recently had your own PRS signature series model of guitar produced for general sale. That’s got to be one of the biggest compliments as a musician…
PA: Absolutely.
MD: How do you feel about that?
PA: I still feel numb about it! [laughs] It still hasn’t sunk in yet. They’re actually coming out for sale in the shops in June I think it is…
MD: Ah right, I thought they were already in the shops.
PA: No, they’re coming out soon. I don’t know why they’ve taken so long, but June they’ve told me. I don’t know when in June, but yeah, that’s amazing, I couldn’t believe it when they said "we’re gonna do this", and I said you’re having a laugh! [laughs]
MD: Did they approach you with the idea and say do you mind, or did they say we’re gonna do this and…
PA: It all started off…we approached PRS about…’cause I said to them, do you fancy giving us a deal on, basically, on guitars. And they went okay, we’ll see about it, this, that and the other. And so they eventually…I got some money off of them, but it was still hideously expensive. But then I just said right, for the laugh of it, I’m just gonna…I took a picture of one of the PRS guitars and I thought right, I’m just gonna do my own custom series like that for a laugh and just send it off to them and see what they’ll say. And I sent it off to them, and like six months later…nah, not as long as that, a couple of months later they contacted me back and said "we’re gonna do this". Are we really, you know! [laughs] And so I still had to buy them, you know, even though I’d done it originally. But now, they’ve just said "right, we’re gonna put this in the shops…’cause people have seen you playing that guitar on stage", they said "we get at least ten phone calls a day asking to buy that guitar, so we’re gonna do an SE version and put it in the shops."
MD: Fucking brilliant, innit…
PA: Brilliant, exactly. You know, absolutely amazing. And they sent me one out to bring on this tour - to play on stage as well – but just to show kids…
MD: …what it is they can buy.
PA: Totally, yeah, totally. So there was a couple of kids yesterday saying about "I want to talk to you about PRS guitars – which one should I get, I don’t know which one to get". I said well, I can give it the hard sale but I’m not gonna but, if you want it, mine’s actually out in the shops in June, my signature series. They said "is it?"; I said yeah, do you want to have a look at it, and they got really excited. So I brought the guitar down off the bus, showed it to them and they went "my god, we’re gonna buy this". I don’t get royalties out of it at all. You know, because…
Photograph copyright © 2006 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
MD: Just the prestige of having your own…
PA: Yeah, I didn’t want royalties out of it. I don’t want the fact of me trying to say oh yeah, buy this guitar, to give the impression of me lining my pockets because it isn’t at all. You know, I just want someone to pick up a decent guitar and like fall in love with it – that’s all I’m after. And it is, it’s an amazing guitar for an SE. For a Korean made guitar, it’s absolutely phenomenal.
MD: They’re actually made in Korea?
PA: Yeah
MD: What about the PRS’ you play…they’re Japanese?
PA: American. They’re private stocks.
MD: Custom built...
PA: Yeah, total custom built….I mean, the SE, you can buy them for five hundred quid in the shops, okay, but my one, they said…
MD: Two grand?
PA: And the rest.. My one, they said we’re gonna put your private stock for sale if people want to buy it, and I said really, that’s gonna be too expensive. They said, I know, but if you wanna buy one from PRS, it’s $15,000.
MD: Right! Fans want to come over from the States for an hour tutorial of martial arts, then it’d be cheaper for them to buy a guitar!
PA: Yeah, totally! [laughs]
MD: And they get something out of it!
PA: Yeah, exactly! [laughs]
MD: Being from Essex, did you ever visit Machinehead Music in Harlow?
PA: No.
MD: I remember going in there as a kid and seeing the big Steve Vai cut out for the Ibanez range they had. Do you expect to go into a music shop and see a Paul Allender cutout by a PRS display? How weird would that be?
PA: I don’t expect to go and see it, but it’s…I will do one day and, and it’s gonna be really weird ‘cause I know there’s a local music shop in Colchester…I said to them if you want a private stock I’ll give it to you. They said oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, we’re gonna put it on the wall in a case and get you to sign it, and your photograph, and I was like aw no, please don’t, please don’t. But they’re gonna go ahead with it anyhow! [laughs]