Nothing in music happens overnight, but for Paige McNaught a lot seems to have happened in a relatively short amount of time.
Having played solo shows over the last few years, the singer/songwriter was keen to have a band behind her once again. The band, however, needed just the right people.
“I love the intimacy of solo gigs like the Gaslight Club where people come to listen,” McNaught says, “but it’s a bit of a struggle at pub gigs to be louder than the people at the bar catching up after work. With a band there’s no option for the audience but to shut up and listen.
“I’d been through a pretty rough few years and my songs had helped me through that. It was time to find my personal power and get a rock band. I knew I needed a band, starting with a guitarist, and then I met Tim Underwood.”
Guitarist/vocalist Underwood’s heavy mettle is known and respected from bands such as The Rosemary Beads, Valvolux and other solo-oriented releases. Joined by Alex Chapman (bass) and Leroy Lovedrop (drums), McNaught could sense the promise and intensity of the outfit from the get-go.
“Yeah, from the moment I asked Tim to play a riff and I started singing there was an instant connection,” she recalls. “We wrote our first song, Velvet Crush. We were both in the stage of our lives where we were done with self-loathing and beginning to actually like ourselves. We also found a mutual love for velvet!
“When we had our first rehearsal with Alex and Leroy the feeling in the room was palpable. We all had tingles. We just clicked. A kind of exciting, effortless energy that really hit us all where we needed it. Our first gig was amazing, we’d only had two rehearsals. It was a celebration of female singers called FROCK with The Rosemary Beads, Aretinos and Black River Ransom. It was really empowering to know the band had my back, to feel supported by such great players, so I could just focus on doing my thing.
“Lots of people came along to see what this new band had to offer. I could tell we’d found something special, there was a bit of a buzz around us, so we decided to keep playing and see where it went.”
The Paige McNaught Experience – or The PMX – began recording early on. It seemed an important thing to do.
“We wanted to capture that raw feeling and energy of the songs before it dispersed,” McNaught explains. “I’ve been in too many bands whereby the time you record you are getting a bit tired of playing the same songs, then you record them and the band breaks up before they can be released. We were determined to just get the music out there while it was still fresh.
“The album is actually our first eight songs. The core of our set. We recorded only six months after being together, so we just wanted to get them down before moving on to the later songs which are a bit moodier.”
Even so, there’s darkness on the LP as well as infectious energy. Not everyone can bottle that.
“That’s the beauty of songwriting for me,” McNaught ponders, “you take the darkness and transform it. There’s something really powerful about writing a song. Taking your vulnerability and turning it into your strength. Owning your shit and turning it into something people can dance to. It’s a transcendence. Then performing those songs, you get to embody that transformation and you become something else as well.”
With band roots that also extend to outfits such as Book Of Funk and Maurice Flavel’s Intensive Care, there’s a depth of experience in PMX that’s certainly reflected in the band’s creative output and performance.
“Tim is incredibly prolific so that was really inspiring to me,” McNaught says. “He writes every day and has boxes and boxes full of home recordings. My approach to songwriting is much slower. He’s an artist, a riff-master; I’m more of a crafter, so collaborating with him is fantastic. We’ll start writing and won’t stop for hours. In the morning we’ll have written three new songs and I’ll have pages and pages of lyrics.
“There is a trust you get with seasoned musicians like the guys in PMX. They know what they’re doing, and I know I can rely on them.”
PMX ran a very successful Pozible campaign to help fund the album. It was fulfilling for them to know so many people were engaged enough with the band’s music that they’d help make it happen.
“Definitely! It was Alex’s idea to crowdsource to part fund the album. The rest of us were a bit dubious, but as soon as we got it going we could see he was onto something. People really showed their support in a big way, many without even hearing us play, so that was really heart-warming. It meant we were able to get the album onto vinyl which is ridiculously expensive, but very special. It also helped to spread the word and get people interested in our music.”
With a debut album ticked and locked, there’s simply just more songs for these prolific tunesmiths to write and plenty more shows to play on a widening horizon.
“We already have some great gigs lined up kicking off on NYE at the Rosemount with a stack of other bands,” McNaught says. “We’ll launch the vinyl edition at Mojos in January with some dangerously good female singers. And we’ll be doing a down south tour and, if dreams do come true, we might even make it to Europe for a couple of weeks to do some gigs and promote the album.”
The Paige McNaught Experience launch their debut album at Clancy’s Fish Pub Fremantle on Saturday, October 20, with help from The Automasters and Moonlight Wranglers. Full details via www.facebook.com/events/226220011575095/