Paul Spatola of HURT
HURT (J. Loren on vocals, Evan Johns on drums, Josh Ansley on bass, and Paul Spatola on guitar) followed up their highly acclaimed debut release Volume I with the aptly titled Volume II on September 25th. Volume II was an extension of Volume I, however, much had changed since the first album. While Volume I was more of lead singer and chief songwriter J. Loren’s project, Volume II tapped more into the band as a whole involving everyone in the mix. Guitarist Paul Spatola even collaborated on writing a few of the newer songs with J. including the first single Ten Ton Brick.
Overall Volume II shows the growth of the band as a unit rather than as individuals. Volume II picks up right where Volume I left off through the journey of J. Loren’s life. The songs still hold the same emotion, intensity and delivery yet now they are backed by all kinds of inventive arrangements and instruments that the rest of the band brings to the table.
Already being asked if Volume III will follow the band is reluctant to respond saying they want to surprise everyone and offer up something that fans won’t be expecting. HURT are currently on tour with Seether and what fans CAN expect is an intense live show with inventive ways of bringing the studio sound to the stage.
Guitarist Paul took some time off of their current tour to chat with TWRY about the new album, his insane ability to play every instrument known to man and his past life as a tattoo artist!
Interviewed by: Mary Ouellette | December 2007
Regarding the transition from Volume I to Volume II, a lot of fans may not realize that the majority of the songs were written for both albums before either was released, still some people note a change in sound from album to album. How much did the songs change from their actual inception to what we hear on the album?
Not a real lot. None of us were in the band when J. wrote most of the songs. When we did Volume I we originally recorded all the songs for Volume I and II but when we were getting ready to release Volume II we went back and had time to work on them and they changed during that process. We had been together for awhile at that point and we had new ideas. They aren’t that different but we did have a chance to go back and change things for the better.
So you definitely think it’s valid when people say they hear a difference in the sound from Volume I to II?
Yeah definitely, I hear a difference. We’ve grown better as a band. All four of us together looked at the songs and put our input in as far as what we thought was best for the songs so there is definitely a change. It wasn’t like that on Volume I.
There were a few new tracks added to Volume II that you co-wrote, and considering the overall “epic” feel for the album, how were you able to fit them into Volume II and still keep the flow and cohesiveness of the album?
They were ideas that we were both jamming on when we were touring on the first record so we were in that space. It just felt natural to do these spinoffs of other ideas that we had during the process of making the album. There were ideas from the past that were never used and I had written parts that everyone liked so we put them together and made Ten Ton Brick. It flows with the whole style. We didn’t make a conscious decision about it though, it was just a natural process for us.
J. is constantly giving you a lot of credit for how things go down in the studio and adding many new elements that really helped the songs take shape. Can you describe that process for us and a typical day in the studio for the band?
J. had a lot of stuff written that was a lot of his guitar playing and once I came in I had the freedom to work over it. He was never the type of person who was looking over my shoulder telling me not to do things. I would play a guitar part and he would like it and our producer would say “yeah sounds great we’ll do that.” Everyone had that freedom, Evan did that, Josh did that, we all added new elements to the songs because J. had them written before he even knew us. We all want to be in the band and contribute. Everybody wants to be a part of the writing process and be creative. I think we’re all happy with the way things are going and I think the next project will be a lot more collaborative.
There are a lot of unique sounds on the album that really set it apart from a lot of rock albums that were released this year. You used instruments on this album that as a rocker chick I’ve never even heard of…the dobro for one. Can you tell us what a dobro actually is and where you picked it up? Isn’t it most often heard in country music?
We were really interested in trying to capture the mood of the songs so if we think it has a bluesy feel, we want to use the instruments that will convey that feeling or that mood better. Whether its a dobro or a lap steel, whatever it is. I used lap steels in the studio but they ended up not being on the album. We try everything that we can, we want to have as much texture as possible. We don’t want to limit ourselves or do the same thing over and over. We try to incorporate a lot of that stuff into our live show too. We use a banjo and a violin, I use a violin bow on my guitar, and we have keyboards. We try to recreate it on the stage.
You sort of just touched on this a bit but I was wondering because of the intricate layering and texture on the album, what’s the secret to pulling it all off live, there has to be some compensations for the things that would be impossible to recreate live?
True, there’s only four of us so there’s only so much we can possibly do. We don’t have a choir..
Come on, you can’t pull off a choir effect?
I try to sing in my best chick voice for the background vocals and that’s not a joke. We don’t want it to be exactly like the cd when we play live and that’s the whole idea of coming to the live show because it has a different energy and vibe to it. We just take the things from the songs that we think are special and take certain characteristics of the song that people gravitate towards, like the violin, we have to do that live. We have to show people that we actually do that, so they don’t just thing it’s studio tricks. We did that, we wrote and created that and we want people to know that. It sets us apart when we play live, it’s something people will remember when they walk away from our show. Even people who are unfamiliar with our band, they’ll walk away remembering certain elements like the song with the violin or the song with the banjo, people remember that stuff and it’s great. It sets us apart from a couple guys and a guitar and drums and a standard rock band.
So what songs are the most challenging to pull off live?
The most challenging for us would be Overdose because its all strings. We don’t want to play to a backing track so to pull it off live we could do it on keyboards but we don’t feel it does the song justice so we usually just don’t play it. We have but its not my favorite. It’s barely ever in the set but it has made it in a couple times.
You’ve been involved in music from a young age and played piano since you were very young, can you tell us about your musical beginnings and how it all evolved??
When I was five my parents were really supportive and loved music so I started piano lessons. I hated them and didn’t want to do them but my piano teacher told my parents that I was picking it up really fast and that I should continue the lessons. Eventually I started to like playing and about eight years later I quit and I taught myself how to play guitar and that was the end of that I just had to play guitar from then on. I still play piano now and I love it more than ever but when I was thirteen and listening to Van Halen I really didn’t want to play piano to much.
So Van Halen inspired you pick up the guitar?
Yeah Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, stuff like that.
So do you thank your parents now for making you take piano lessons back then?
Oh absolutely! They named me after Paul McCartney too.
Yeah I was going to ask you about that, are you a Paul guy?
I’m a John guy actually but I love them both, I love The Beatles.
I’ve read in a few interviews that Volume III is probably not going to be coming next, if at all. What direction do you think your next album will take and have you started writing new material for it yet?
I don’t think there’s going to be anything drastically different, we’re not going to make an easy listening record or anything. It’s going to have the same underlying themes that most of our songs have and the same intensity that everything has I just don’t know if they are going to be a bunch of softer songs or a bunch of heavy songs. I just don’t know, we don’t know what it’s going to sound like yet.
Has anything been written for it yet?
Yes but just ideas that we’ve played back and forth on acoustic guitar. We haven’t had time to work on anything yet since we’re on tour. That’s the bad thing about being on tour all of the time is that you don’t get to write as much as you’d like to. But hopefully when we’re on break over the holidays everyone is going to go and do their thing and everyone has a recording system and we’ll all come back after the new year with new ideas that we can develop on the next tour we’re going on.
You and Josh played together when you are in high school, how did you ultimately end up playing with him again in Hurt?
We both were living in Los Angeles and I moved back to New Jersey. I actually hadn’t talked to Josh for a couple of years and he was out there and HURT was looking for a bass player. He auditioned and got the gig. They were going to function as a three piece but our manager thought they needed more and that it was too big of a thing for a three piece, there were just too many textures. So Josh told them that he had a guy and he called me up. I flew out there, I played with them for two hours and then they told me they had the label coming in and asked if I wanted to play a showcase with them. I had just met them and it just worked out.
Do your personalities match your music? Are you all very intense? And with that in mind, what’s a typical day off entail for all of you? What do you do when music isn’t your focus?
As far as our personalities, it’s not the same vibe that’s on the record. We’re not a bunch of depressed guys, we’re laughing and enjoying where we’re at in life. A typical day off is usually just sitting at a hotel watching tv just happy to have a break and getting some rest. Nothing too crazy.
HURT Live – Photo used courtesy of HURT MySpace Page
Who dreamt up the insert that came along with Volume II? You know that some of your fans have dedicated their lives to trying to decode it in it’s entirety. Is there a defined method to all the madness?
Everything is tied together and there is an underlying theme to the whole thing but it’s really not anything that needs to be deciphered. There’s references here and there but there’s no intent that people need to figure it out. It’s great though, I can’t even tell you how great it is that people are so into it. I’m just glad that they like our music enough to care about those things.
J. is quoted as saying..regarding music “I’m compelled to do it, I have no other functionality in this life.” Can you relate to that quote in anyway?
He did say that and I will say that he probably does not have any other function because that’s all he does, he lives, eats, breathes music. I do as well but there are other things that I’m interested in, I’m a tattoo artist and I like drawing and I’m into art.
You’re a tattoo artist?
That’s what I did before this, I worked in a shop for seven years in New Jersey.
So have you been tattooing everyone in the band?
I tattooed Evan but I have not tattooed Josh or J. yet. We haven’t had time yet, I try not to bring my equipment on the road because then I’d be working constantly. But yeah, J. is really intense like that and he will stop at nothing, none of us will. we will do this until we absolutely cannot do it anymore.
I want to talk about the song Thank you for Listening – can you give us your personal take on what the lyrics of the song mean to you?
You’re going to think I’m an idiot. I don’t know the lyrics to that song. We barely ever played it when we were rehearsing and I don’t listen to the album a lot and when we play live I don’t have J.’s vocals in my monitor mix so I don’t hear what he’s singing, but now I’m going to have to go read them and figure them out. From what I understand because of Vol. I and Vol. II he’s emoting through the entire process about the different aspects of his life and how people listened to him and people liked the songs and this is his way of thanking everybody.
What do you miss the most while you’re on tour and away from home?
I don’t know, I love being on the road. Family obviously, I miss my cats and my dogs and all the things that I took for granted. I miss holidays, I spent Thanksgiving at a truck stop in Dallas so those kinds of things suck.
You’re out on the road with Seether right now and there’s been some speculation of a new tour in the new year, has anything been finalized, any hints you can give us?
I have no idea. There’s tours that we want to do but I don’t really know, I’m clueless. We’re planning on going back out in January but I don’t know if it’s with someone else or by ourselves.
Is there a band out there right now that you’d love to be touring with?
I don’t know, I’m having a great time on this tour and I’ve had a great time on our previous tours as well. It has a lot to do with a bands personality, I have to share my whole life with a band for that period of time so I want them to be cool so I’d hate to go out with a band who’s music I like and find out that they are a bunch of dicks. Seether is great, the first day that we had off together we kidnapped Shaun and threw him on our bus. We had him all day just hanging out and getting to know him. I’m definitely having a good time on this one.
The band puts everything out there as far as wanting the fans to connect with the music, what do you want the bands legacy to be? How do you want HURT to be remembered?
Just that. I’m glad that people really get into the lyrics and that the songs have meaning to them. People are able to connect with the songs during particular periods of their lives and I would hope that people would always remember them and give us some longevity. We want to be doing this for a really long time.
Thank you for listening….