For anyone outside Manchester it would seem that Proud Mary have appeared from nowhere. The truth is somewhat different. Formed in 1995 the guys played the toilet circuit round the Northwest seemingly playing gig after gig after gig to a select audience. It was a chance meeting with Noel Gallagher that finally sealed their fate. Tapes were exchanged, promptly forgotten about and the band was on the verge of splitting up. Taking an extended break in Asia the band saw in an issue of Mojo that Noel wanted to set up record label and sign Proud Mary. Returning they went into the studio with Noel on production duties and in 10 short day recorded the debut album "The Same Old Blues". Read our exclusive interview with guitarist and songwriter Paul Newsom:
Q: Its been a long time coming. How many years before this debut album were you together for?
A: We first gigged in 1995 so its been six years. We were playing the Roadhouse up in Manchester and playing London a lot as well - so we had been around a bit.
There were so many times we just thought about giving it all up. We'd put the band on hold and then got signed while were taking this break. A few of us went travelling away and we heard about this deal while we were up in Asia and had to come back for it.
We got signed on songs. I mean they'd never seen us live, we just got signed on the demo. We had 30 odd songs on demo and it was just the strength of those songs that we were signed on and the voice. It was quite an unusual way of getting the deal.
Q: You've known Noel from years back didn't you?
A: I was in the Ya Ya's which was a Manchester band that was tipped around the time. We did all our first gigs together, London gigs and that sort of stuff. Then just before we went away I went into see Noel at Olympic. We actually went in because Guigsy and Bonehead had left and me and the bass player here went in and offered our services if they needed anyone.
We just went "here's the tape anyway, were off abroad". We just went off and by chance we were Saigon and picked up a Mojo magazine. In that he was talking about wanting to set us his own label and mentioned two bands that he wanted to sign - one of them was us.
We didn't expect it at all. We expected a sort of "good songs guys" but he knew all the words and everything.
Q: Where did it go from there?
A: Initially he said "come down my house, do some demo's and we'll see how it sounds", he wanted to play bass on it and everything. The record label sort of got itself together and said "Do you want to do an album?". Come down, do the songs, release it and see how it goes.
After the five years gigging we actually recorded the album in 10 days. It was good in the fact that Noel was there cos' we'd still be their now otherwise recording it over and over again. I think after some of the albums he's done and he's spent so much time on, he's just come to start to thinking that less is more and keeping it basic.
Q: You chose to do this Rolling Stone cover "Salt Of The Earth". A bit strange to do a cover version on the debut album?
A: We don't hide the fact that a lot of our stuff is pretty retro and its took from all these things. By putting that on its just sort of saying "look, were not hiding that fact that we've ripped lots of bands like this off" and we respect them.
Its a total compliment if people call us retro or classic. The worst reviews we've had is when people try and slag us off and say this is just like Neil Young or the Rolling Stones. We've also had Rod Stewart and its just like "Are you trying to slag us off here?" - if i read that review I'd go out and buy it!!!!
Q: Do you ever find the Noel Gallagher connection can be a bit of a noose round the neck sometimes?
A: No. I think they're one of the best bands at the moment so its not like Boy George or something - its actually someone you've got a bit of respect for. I'm sure we are going to get some bad press because of it. A few reviews have not been so much slagging us off as just slagging him off, but I think that's part and parcel of all this.
"The Same Old Blues" out 18th June
Catch them live at Leeds / Reading Festival