It’s not every day that a band of resourceful hometown kids sells out the Alabama Theatre—twice.
But that’s exactly what Birmingham’s own St. Paul & The Broken Bones did last Thursday and Friday, winding down their fall tour with a tremendous hometown reception.
We’ve been fortunate to work with the band on a few occasions, from building their website to Aaron Gresham’s cover art for “Half the City”. So we thought we’d try frontman Paul Janeway for a quick interview on the band’s triumphant weekend at the Theatre and where they’re headed from here. We ended up chatting for half an hour Saturday evening while the band was on their way to Florida.
Here’s Part One of our interview with Paul Janeway of St. Paul & The Broken Bones.
Thank you again for taking the time to do an interview for the Big Communications blog.
No, thank you for having me. Really appreciate it. Big fan of Big.
Let’s start with last week. The two Alabama Theatre shows. Perhaps one of the bigger points in the career of the band. What was going through your heads while those two shows were going on?
The first show on Thursday night—when you play close to home and you have family and friends and all these folks start showing up and wanting to get in, it can be a little stressful. But before the show, before I walked out on stage, I talked to our tour manager Billy, and I was like, “I’m a little nervous.” I don’t really get nervous before shows. And I was definitely on Thursday night. It was just really special. I’ve grown up—I saw Tom Waits there, I saw B.B. King there, I saw all sorts of folks. It’s like a Christmas tradition to go there and see a Christmas movie. Honestly, it was really just kind of surreal, and you’re kind of like, “Yep, this is happening right now.” And I think sometimes you have your routine you do, and then you do that, and there are moments in the show where you’re like, “This is real. This is happening right now.” It was honestly a dream. It really was. It was definitely a very high point for me personally that I’ve ever experienced as far as the band goes.
Was there anything surprising or unexpected that took place during the two nights at the Theatre?
I threw my shoe at the first show. My shoe kind of fell off when I was in the moment, so I just picked it up and threw it—not for any reason—toward the monitor guy that was to our left backstage. I was scared that I hit him. I was like, “Well, I got one shoe off, so I gotta take the other one off.” So I did the rest of the show with just my black socks. That was pretty wild. A thing that was really cool about it, you felt like you wanted to play the best show of your life, but you also felt like—Jesse said this—but you also feel like if you messed up, no one would care, you know? It was that kind of atmosphere. It was really special.
I don’t really get nervous before shows. And I was definitely nervous on Thursday night. It was really special.
You mentioned Thursday night that your grandmother was seeing you guys for the first time. What did she think?
She loved “Try A Little Tenderness.” She was really surprised, I think. She appreciated me making it noted that it was her first time seeing us. She’s really awesome. She was just really excited and told me that she loved “Try A Little Tenderness” because that’s an old song that was written in the 30s. That’s a little more her era.
I’ve seen some talk on social media about a live recording of the two Alabama Theatre shows. Is there anything planned for the tapes of those shows?
Let’s see. What can I say to that? …I don’t know. Maybe. We’ll see. We might have a surprise up our sleeve.