Back on the road and coming to Lyme Regis, Los Pacaminos play music for fun. Paul Young talked to Fergus Byrne about how things have changed after nearly 30 years playing together.
When Los Pacaminos perform in Lyme Regis in December, they will have just begun their 30th year as a band on the road together.
Featuring a line-up of seasoned musicians including iconic eighties vocalist, Paul Young, the band have lasted far longer than anyone might have imagined—considering they first formed ‘just for fun’ in November 1992. Back then the focus was on making sure they were playing music ‘for the pleasure of it’ and today Paul admits that perhaps the lack of pressure to go beyond that fun and camaraderie is part of the glue that held them together.
The other part of that adhesion could be the style of music they chose to play. They started as a purely Tex-Mex band, which Paul describes as ‘quite a joyful music in its own way’ and have since expanded to embrace various other styles. The reason for expanding beyond Tex-Mex is because, as Paul puts it, ‘we don’t live in Texas… and you can dream about it for a long time but it’s very difficult to steer that course.’ Over the years the band has broadened its horizons and Paul says ‘I think we now come under the broad stroke of Americana. So we can dip into slightly more country things and a little bit more Texas Blues’. He says the band has a much ‘broader stroke’ to it now with ‘Cajun overtones on some things and really good old-fashioned cowboy stuff—and Sergio Leonie as well, and things like that.’ A typical Pacaminos set might include Wooly Bully, La Bamba and sometimes, if enough tequila is flowing, Speedy Gonzales. And if the moment is right, there may be a ballad or two like the stunning Prairie Serenade.
However, one of the key elements for Los Pacaminos is humour. ‘The thing I find about Tex-Mex music is there’s a hint of humour in the lyrics’ says Paul. ‘Where life can always kick you down but you just get back up and carry on. A lot of songs have an element of that in them and it’s quite a British thing really—to be able to make a joke of something that’s quite serious. And that’s our way of getting through things I think.’ Paul describes the group as happy people with a ‘great sense of humour’. He says ‘there’s a lot of laughs going on on stage’. In fact, a live set can sometimes include more banter with the audience than might be expected. Paul relates a story of how, at a recent gig in the Half Moon in Putney, the band was chatting to members of the audience during the set when someone at the back shouted ‘shut up and play some music’. ‘The rest of the audience turned to him to tell him to shut up!’ Paul laughs ‘talking is half the show. A large part of what we do is we talk to the audience a lot, we don’t act like they’re not there.’
That interaction has created a lot of loyalty amongst fans, or ‘Pacamigos’ as Paul calls them. The opposite, those that haven’t been to a gig before are called ‘Pacavirgins’. They are hugely welcome and soon become Pacamigos. Puns on the band’s name are popular. Last year someone came up with ‘Pacs Vaxed!’ and a new limited edition t-shirt was born.
But there were other reasons for Paul to put the band together all those years ago. After he shot to fame with songs like Wherever I lay My Hat, Every Time You Go Away and Love of the Common People, he missed the conviviality and camaraderie that came with being in a band like he’d had with his previous band the Q Tips. ‘It also takes the pressure off’ says Paul. ‘It’s much easier on me. When I got the band members together I made a point of making sure there were other singers, because I wanted to play the guitar and get better at it.’ It’s also allowed him to learn another guitar-based instrument called a Baja Sexto, a Mexican twelve string instrument. ‘So I’m doing things that I never get to do as a solo performer—and writing instrumentals as well. You can’t do that as a solo singer. So it fulfills other parts of music for me.’
But the solo work is by no means left on the shelf. Paul is currently working on a new album and is launching a new website as well as getting ready to tour his new songs. Festivals, a tour with Go West and a previously deferred American tour are all back on the table for next year.
In the meantime the real joy is being back on stage. ‘It’s fantastic to get back on the road’ says Paul. ‘After lockdown we had to have restricted attendance. Sometimes we’ve had to play matinee shows as well as an evening show, which at our tender age—that’s quite tiring. So we can’t wait to get back to the real world.’
After nearly thirty years and an album with the telling title A Fistful of Statins, it’s likely that most people coming to a Los Pacaminos gig have realised that this is a band that is a long way from the soulful Paul Young style that made him famous. They don’t do Paul Young songs. They do Los Pacaminos. And with the band, and sometimes a lot of the audience, wearing cowboy hats, nobody does Los Pacamionos better.
Los Pacaminos are at the Marine Theatre in Lyme Regis on Saturday December 11th. For more information or to buy tickets visit https://www.marinetheatre.com/los-pacaminos/. Also available from the Marine (Mondays and Fridays only), Bridport Tourist Information centre, or over the phone on 0333 666 3366.