Paul Gifford

What was your introduction to music and who were your early influences? Do you have any formal training?

I was drumming to the Beatles on the crib before I could walk. There are pictures of me in Fair Harbor Fire Island in my crib bouncing and singing to Meet the Beatles and Beatles Second album. The fabs are clearly my most important influence. I went to the School of Music and Art in NY for voice. I took drum lessons at The Drummers Collective from 1980 to 1983. I studied drums with Kim Planfield, Kenwood Dennard and Michael Carvin. I am currently studying with Frank Katz. In Rickity I am playing percussion. This is the second band I have fulfilled this role, the other being the band "Starpeople" from '97 to '04.

Who came first, Paul the singer or Paul the drummer?

I was drumming in bands (at age 12 in a band called "The 7th Letter Band" with my brother Chris who was lead singer and bassist). My first original band was called "The id!" I was drumming and lead singing 60 percent of the material . If the drumming on any particular song is very complicated, it would be very difficult to also sing lead. In my experience, I find I concentrate more on the singing while I'm doing both. As for making it look easy, that's very gracious of you to say...This is the second time that you've been asked to switch the drum stool for an array of percussion instruments. Compare the gig of percussionist to that of a drummer, pros & cons. As a drummer I believe you have to be the foundation of the band. The root by which the band can lean on, build from and play off. It's essential in my opinion and important in how the song goes dynamically. Also what rhythm best suits each section of the song. As a percussionist, I am allowed more freedom to 'decorate' the rhythms of the song and each musician.

You're a great singer with a distinctive style. Describe your vocal style as you see it.

I don't see any style in particular in my singing. I am very conscious of melody but not very good at improvising melodies on the run. I am best suited to sing songs that have a strong melody line in place. I find it difficult to sing songs when I cannot identify with the lyrics. Sometimes even when I've written the lyrics, it's hard to 'put across' the emotion the words are trying to convey. I guess you could say I'm not satisfied with my lead singing. Harmony singing is my strong suit. It allows me to sit back and take in everything that's going on musically and rhythmically. Then I can add little touches where I hear them in my head. It also takes a good lead singer who won't hear what I'm singing and start singing my notes instead of theirs.

You're pretty dapper guy. Is fashion important to you?

I've always enjoyed watching bands who dressed together, not necessarily in matching outfits (although that can look smashing) but have a common tie (wink) to their appearance. Luckily, I've been involved with band's throughout my career who also enjoy it.

You've been all over the place, stylistically, in your different projects. Describe how you see Rickity's music, now and in the future?

There is a truthfulness about what Rickity produces. An earnest attempt to create great music for ourselves and hopefully for THE WORLD!