With their third album, ‘Young Sick Camellia’, Alabama soul outfit St Paul & The Broken Bones have stepped out of the shadows and thrown off the retro tag that has so far defined them.
For charismatic frontman Paul Janeway, it was a label that never sat well with him owing to the diverse wealth of sounds that makes up the band.
“I guess the ‘retro’ tag or whatever was something we felt wasn’t really us and so we said 'let's let this thing happen organically',” Paul says of approaching the writing and recording of ‘Young Sick Camellia’.
“We could hear [the music was] changing and it’s that little bit more disco or something of that kind of nature; darker stuff like sampling, which was something we'd never done before and it all came together in this one package.
“I think what's hard and easy with the record is that it’s all over the map; you can't really say 'oh, it’s this or that' and that's how I listen to music, that's how a lot of people listen to music – they don’t just listen to one type of music.”
Making their mark with a sound undoubtedly steeped in soul heritage, Paul says with ‘Young Sick Camellia’ it was important for the band to create a record emblazoned with their definitive audio signature. “I’ve always said, I think I heard Tom Waits say this, genres are for record stores and PR people,” he says.
“And it’s true. So for us I personally feel like, and most people don’t get a chance to discover this, but you start discovering that's your sound and that takes time, it takes time to get there. Fortunately I think we're opening up that shell.”
St Paul & The Broken Bones return to Australia in 2019 for Bluesfest, and Paul says he and the band are excited at the prospect of again playing on one of their favourite stages in the world. “I’m excited about getting back, it'll be our third time so obviously we don’t hate it,” he laughs.
“Honestly, it really is one of the band's favourite places to travel. It's a bugger of a flight, I'll say that; it's not the easiest flight I've ever had to take but it's one of my favourite places.
“We try to have intimate, powerful moments with the audience and what's fun is watching it translate. It's all about having a real emotional interaction with other human beings, that's what the beauty of music is.”
As well as their performance at Bluesfest, Paul says he's also looking forward to getting among the crowds and enjoying some of his favourite acts. “I genuinely love the festival, it's a lot of fun,” he says.
“It's typically a line-up I dig and rarely when you play festivals do you stick around and watch other bands because sometimes the line-up's not really what you're in to and it's kind of a hassle.
“But Bluesfest, that's something we look forward to where we get to check out some music, which is a nice change of pace. It will always have a special place with me because of that.”