Interview by John Wisniewski
The following interview is with guitarist/vocalist Paul Mutchler. Mutchler was with the band The Lears, formed in 1990 in Florida, and also featured members of the bands Green Today. The Lears played pop/rock similar to that of The Byrds and The Leaves among others. This was just the beginning for Paul who would not long afterward form The Belltowers who played a pop/rock sound much closer to the giants of 60's rock The Byrds and fittingly, contributed to a Gene Clark tribute album. In this interview, Mutchler speaks about his history in both bands, Lears and Belltowers, his songwriting, his inluences and other subjects.
If you decide to buy The Belltowers albums, you will hear fuzzed out folk rock and hear many of their influences, with songs such as "Tomorrow Will Remain" and "Annabel lee."
PSF: Could you tell us how The Lears formed? Who are some of your influences in music?
PM: I moved from Orlando Florida to Clearwater Florida back in 1988. I knew Dennis Dalcin through my old band from Orlando (The Green Today). Dennis put out Kaleidoscope magazine, and my band was in issue 1. When I was in Clearwater, I tried to find like-minded musicians , which was very hard, because there wasn't many people out there who like the same music. Then one day Dennis (who lives in St. Pete) and I were hanging out, and we both realized that we should start a band. Dennis and I pretty much had the same taste in music, so it was a no-brainier. The name came from The Byrds. There is a song called "242 Foxtrot (The Lear Jet Song)" from their 1966 LP Fifth Dimension which is about Lear Jets. I love airplanes, especially Lear Jets. So, I came up with The Lears. Members through out the years were... Ken Chiodini (drums/vocals) who I've know since 1970- he was the drummer in The Green Today; Steve Rybka (bass), good friend from Orlando; Scott Sugiuchi (bass) took over for Steve when he moved to New York (Scott was in The Hate Bombs with Ken). When Dennis and I moved to Orlando, we hooked up with Suzy Wolfe (drums) and Mark Dewey (bass). Both of them were in the Orlando country-punk band Psycho From Texas. My (many) influences are The Beatles, The Byrds, The Flamin' Groovies, LOVE, Jefferson Airplane, Gene Clark (solo), Rolling Stones (Brian Jones era), 13th Floor Elevators, The Long Ryders, Pebbles comps, The Seeds, 80's garage bands, and 60's freakbeat.
PSF: Who writes the lyrcis for The Lears?
PM: When it came to writing lyrics in The Lears, basically it was who ever came up with the song. The only song that I can recall that we both wrote the lyrics to was "Walking Around," which is on The Lears The Story So Far... CD on Get Hip Recordings from 1997. There might of been a few more that we worked together on, but we never had a chance to record them.
PSF: Any band side projects that you wish to tell us about?
PM: My new band is called The Belltowers. We are a four piece group that plays folk-rock/garage/psychedelic music. Very much like The Lears. Our releases to date are the following. Two songs on the comp CD from the Greek magazine Lost In Tyme issue #6. 5-song EP CD called The Lily Pad Sessions that was released with a bonus five song CD through Kool Kat Musik. Up coming releases: The Belltowers Day Breakaway full length CD (and hopefully released on vinyl) from the Scottish label Twenty Stone Blatt and a 45 Single on the USA label Hidden Volume.
PSF: "Tomorrow Will Remain"- could you tell us about the recording of that track? It has a punk feel to it.
PM: "Tomorrow Will Remain" was recorded at Lily Pad Sound (studio) in 2009, which is in my garage. The recorder we used was a Korg digital 8-track. The song's "punk feel" I feel comes from Eddie Foeller's fuzz guitar that's played on the chorus.
PSF: The Lears recorded "Annabel Lee" and The Belltowers did as well. Could you tell us why you like the track and something about recording it?
PM: "Annabel Lee" was written back in 1986 while I was a member in The Green Today. We played the song live, but we never recorded it. When The Lears were formed, we needed songs so "Annabel Lee" was a perfect fit for the band. The Lears version was recorded on an Tascam 4 track. The track was on The Lears 4 x 4 EP, which was released in Germany on Lollipop Shop. The Belltowers version was recorded at Lily Pad Sound and was released on The Lily Pad Sessions EP in 2010. The song has a LOVE feel with words from the poem "Annabel Lee" written by Edgar Allan Poe. The song is still one of my favorites, and is fun song to play live. Also... my wife loves the song!
PSF: The Belltowers cover the Flamin' Groovies song "I Can't Hide." Could you tell us about this track?
PM: I've loved The Flamin' Groovies since the mid '80's. In The Green Today we covered "Jumpin' In The Night." I was in a Flamin' Groovies tribute band called Teenage Confidential here in Orlando. The group was formed around 1998. The members were Greg Reinel (Nutrajet), Ken Chiodini (The Hatebombs), and Kenny Bussiere (The Original Sins). We only played three shows, but I consider those (to be) some of the best performances I was involved in. When The Belltowers released the Lily Pad Session, Kool Kat Musik wanted to sell our EP with a special bonus disc that was a label exclusive. Everyone in band loves The Flamin' Groovies, so we decided that "I Can't Hide" would be a great cover to record. "I Can't Hide" is also fun to play live!
PSF: Any Belltowers side projects that you wish to tell us about?
PM: The Belltowers have a six song EP of '80's garage bands from around the world that is almost finished. We had to put the project on hold due to other activities. We felt with upcoming gigs and recording sessions (the Hidden Volume 45), we just had to put it on the back burner. As soon as everything calms down, we'll finish the EP.
PSF: Could you tell us about recording Day Breakaway. How was the camaderie between the band members and was it difficult to select tracks for the new album?
PM: We all decided that we wanted for our first full length album songs that were written by the band. No covers. We have been together for quite awhile now, so we had plenty of songs at the ready. We also thought 12 songs was enough. I feel that if there is more then 12, you might lose your listener. We all work great together. For The Lily Pad Sessions, I engineered the recordings, and the band did the mixing. We also worked on lyrics together. Usually, who ever comes in with a song, the lyrics are pretty much set. But with the Day Breakaway album, we pretty much helped each other out with subject ideas and lyrics. It wasn't difficult to select tracks for the album. Everyone of those songs are strong on their own. So, putting them together was easy. I will though, take credit on the song order!
PSF: Should we expect a Belltowers rarities collection at some time?
PM: One of these days, it would be fun to release a Belltowers rarities collection. We have plenty of demos, unfinished recordings, and some good sounding live material that's either on 4-track or 8 track digital. I guess I should start to listen to tapes!
Also see the Belltowers website
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