PAUL DIBARTOLO INTERVIEW:
February 1, 2006
Paul DiBartolo once slung guitar for Bang and sleaze legends Spread Eagle. Today he goes by the names of Salvador Poe and KAML and his music has taken a much different path. A person that refuses to live in the past, KAML was kind enough to talk to Sleaze Roxx about his rock days as well as his upcoming solo album Something Real. KAML just launched his new website at www.kamlmusic.com and is working on the release of a new studio album, in the meantime you can hear his new music at www.garageband.com/artist/KAML.
SR: Your music has changed substantially since the Spread Eagle days, how did this transformation come about?
PD: As an artist I just follow along with what I am naturally inspired by at any given time. I have no plan. Over the years I’ve been touched by many different styles of music and many great musicians. I like good music, whatever it might be, and there are so many incredible artists in every genre. To stay in one style forever would, for me, be a bit boring because I like the challenge and adventure of going into unknown territory and learning how to do it well. That’s what keeps me excited. When I was a kid I loved Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Bob Dylan and all of the great music from that era. From these artists I learned what great songwriting is. A little later I studied and played jazz. This complex music gave me the ability to play and compose many types of western music. When I put Spread Eagle together with Rob, Ray and Tommi I was very much into the excellent hard rock music of that time, so it was natural to create that type of music. But all things must pass and after a few years it was time for me to move into different territory. I co-wrote a film score for a Leonardo DiCaprio movie called the Basketball Diaries and composed a lot of music for VH-1, CNN and some other TV channels. But after some time of doing that work I was again ready for a change. I started listening to bossa/nova music. I was totally in love with the amazing artists from Brazil, like Joao Gilberto and the composer Antonio Carlos Jobim. So I began writing Bossa/Nova and Jazz songs with lyrics and learned how to play Bossa guitar. I recorded and album of these songs in Sweden, where I had had moved to, with my then wife, who is a great and well known singer in Scandinavia. We produced this album with drums, bass, guitar, saxes, flutes and a full string orchestra. We released the album in Europe and it was very successful, especially in France where it went Gold. Subsequently, I wrote some songs for two of France’s most famous singers. But again I felt it was time to change. I moved to India where I’ve now been living for two years. One challenge I hadn’t yet tried was singing. So last year, in India, I began writing, but this time I was singing my own songs. I went back to my roots and was again inspired by Bob Dylan, The Beatles, etc.
Right now I’m in Germany where my producer, Chinmayo, and I are doing the final mixes for our album. It’s a hybrid of my more traditional songwriting sensibilities and Chinmayo’s modern fusion approach. I’m singing and playing acoustic guitar and he is doing outstanding keyboards and programming. My artist name is now KAML. The album is called KAML, Something Real, and will most likely be released in Europe first and then I hope very much in America in the not too distant future. But even as we are putting the finishing touches on this album I’ve been recently inspired by another great genre. Lately I’ve been listening to the amazing funk music from the late sixties and early seventies like James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, Shuggie Otis and lots more. I’ve already begun writing some music that is more funky and will most likely venture into that style next. Like I said I like the unknown and to keep moving and discovering. It what keeps me excited as an artist.
SR: What movies and TV shows did you score music for, and how is writing within the confines of a movie/show different then writing for an album?
PD: I co-wrote the music and played guitar for the film The Basketball Diaries starring Leonardo DiCaprio. I also wrote a lot of music for VH-1. For the show ‘Behind the Music’ I wrote the opening theme music. I think that show is still on the air. For them I also wrote music for the 1998 Fashion Awards and several other things. For CNN I wrote a piece for their daily roundup. And I wrote a couple of things for the 1998 Olympics and the Daytona 500. When you write for film or television you are supporting the action that is happening on screen. So the mood and flow of what you compose is based on that. I like that kind of work but of course there are inherent limitations because you are in support of that. When writing songs I have no limitations and write only according to my own inspiration, mood and am free to say what ever I want.
SR: You said your artist name is now KAML. What is the story behind transforming from Paul DiBartolo into KAML and Salvadore Poe?
PD: I just like change. It’s the nature of life and I don’t really get too attached to anything, not even my own name. When I was living in Stockholm about five years ago that name just appeared in my mind one day and so, I took it. Last year in India I was with a friend and she and I met two camels while walking down the street. I fell in love with those camels. My friend starting calling me camel and it stuck.
SR: Would you say that with your eclectic musical tastes that a typical band situation would be too restrictive for you now?
PD: Yes, for now it would since I prefer to write and sing my own material as I like. I write and record the basic tracks for my songs myself in my home studio in India. But Chinmayo, my producer, is my equal partner in this project and his contribution to arrangements and production is a very big part of the overall picture. He takes my tracks, adds his great work to it and makes the whole thing sound fantastic. Of course when we go out to perform we will find some smokin’ musicians and it will be a band, in that sense.
SR: So you plan on touring to support Something Real? Have you played many live shows lately?
PD: I played two shows in India last year. Just for fun. Before that I hadn’t toured in a couple of years. My ex-wife and I toured around Europe quite a bit with the bossa nova/jazz project. We played large theaters and jazz festivals, like the Nice Jazz Festival in South of France. We had some truly outstanding jazz musicians with us. Yes, I want to tour with this music. But I’ll wait until the album is released and then most likely perform in Europe first. I hope after that to release the album in America and then come and perform there. That’s what I’m mostly looking forward to.
SR: It has to be quite a change playing in front of jazz fans as opposed to the Spread Eagle fans. Do you prefer one type of audience to another?
PD: Not at all. Music is music and fans of jazz music get just as excited and give back just as much as rock fans. As long as the artist, in any genre, is delivering the goods people will enjoy.
SR: Was part of the reason for the name change due to your rock past? I mean, do you sometimes worry that fans of your new style might not take an artist that recorded Back On The Bitch seriously?
PD: Ha ha ha! That’s great!! I wrote all of the music for Spread Eagle but hardly any lyrics. That was Ray and Rob’s department. I think Rob wrote those words…?? But no, that wasn’t part of the reason. But I will say that now I wouldn’t play music with that kind of text. The lyrics I write now are a main part of what I’m doing. I won’t describe what I talk about but if you listen to Something Real you’ll find one underlying motif through every song.
SR: Does that mean Something Real is somewhat of a concept album?
PD: I had a feeling you might ask that after my last answer…rightfully so. No, absolutely not. But I have something to say and it’s all I’m really interested in saying with my lyrics, so therefore there is a consistent view expressed with the text. No matter what the ‘story’ in the song might be the ‘message’ (I hate to use that word) is the same. And that is that life is good and you are free, now. Ok, I said it.
SR: So what sort of expectations do you have for the new CD?
PD: Well, the main thing is that I love to write and record music. From the response of the people who have heard what we are doing with Something Real I feel there are people out there who will enjoy it. So I would like to get the music out there, let people hear it and then… Beyond that it’s out of my hands and whatever happens will be ok. Either way I’ll continue to make music.
SR: Lets go back to the beginning, how did Spread Eagle come together?
PD: I was living in Boston and playing with a former band called Bang. I wrote a song and produced a demo of it, which ended becoming a number one single on WBCN for 13 weeks. Then we made a video of that song and entered it in the MTV Basement Tapes program. We won. This was all with no record deal. And we never got one. But I was really determined back then. So, after having some fun I eventually decided it was time for a change and moved to New York City. I had no money, no guitar or even a change of clothes, and no place to live. Then I met a guy who was managing a band with Ray West singing. I loved his voice immediately. So I stole him from that band, called Rob and Tommi in Boston, who were also in Bang and asked them to join us. We were rehearsing in a basement in SOHO and had five songs. After two months of being together our manager invited a couple of A&R guys to our basement rehearsal. One was Bruce Dickenson from MCA. He offered us a deal immediately. Then I had to scramble to write the rest of the album before we were scheduled to record.
SR: So everything happened pretty fast?
PD: Yeah, it was quite fast. The funny thing is, you can think you’re in control and struggle and try to force life around but it doesn’t work that way. When life decides that something is going to happen it happens. And it doesn’t ask for your approval. That’s why I don’t worry or struggle at all anymore. If what I want to happen actually happens it will simply be a coincidence because what I want just happens to be aligned, at that moment, with the unknown mystery of life’s movement.
SR: That brings up an interesting question. I’m guessing when you were with Spread Eagle you had visions of fame and fortune like most upcoming bands, is that a concern for you anymore?
PD: Yes I did. But it was because I wanted more from life than what actually was. I thought that ordinary life was boring. It’s true for most people. We think there must be something more, something better, greater then this moment. If not now then after we die, heaven, or some afterlife, or reincarnation or whatever. But now I’m perfectly content with whatever life brings now. So no, I’m not concerned with fame. In fact, I think it’s more of a nuisance than it’s worth. I like simplicity. But I do want to keep making music and if people like it then that may be an inevitable part of it, I don’t know. But if that is what is…then ok, so be it. But I don’t desire that at all.
SR: Many people that read this site would likely consider the debut Spread Eagle album to be a classic. What was it like recording that CD? Also, what were your thoughts of it at the time, and looking back, your thoughts on it now?
PD: We recorded that album in the Record Plant in New York. A famous place where John Lennon recorded some of his albums. As well as many other artists. We were the last band to ever record there. We were excited and knew we had made a really rippin’ album. I especially like the song Broken City. I was full on into burning guitar back then and I’m happy with my playing. Yeah, I’m happy with that record. Unfortunately for us the year we made it was the year that the Seattle grunge scene broke out and that music wasn’t as well received as it might have been a year or two earlier.
SR: The Seattle scene didn’t help matters, but what about MCA? I always felt that MCA had some great artists on their roster yet never managed to make a group successful.
PD: Maybe so, but everyone complains about their label, I never did that. I don’t know why things work out or don’t. But I have no complaints and didn’t then either.
SR: What bands did you tour with during that time, and were drugs and alcohol a big part of the band back then?
PD: I don’t remember who we toured with. And maybe I shouldn’t answer the second half of that question, bad for my reputation, ya know…hehehe! Although maybe the reason I don’t remember who we toured with was because of the answer to the second half of the question.
SR: How had things changed for the band in the three years between albums?
PD: Was it three years? I don’t know. I was already losing interest but we had to make another album so we did it. The rest of the band would have liked to continue after that but I wanted to move on. But apparently there has been a resurgence of interest in Spread Eagle lately and Rob has been contacting me and asking me to come to America and make a new Spread Eagle album and tour. But I never go backwards. When things are over for me they are usually over. I’m really into what I’m doing now especially since I’m writing and singing the text as well. I suggested they get a new guitarist but he didn’t think that would work.
SR: So a reunion doesn’t interest you at all? And do you still keep in touch with most of your former bandmates?
PD: No, I’m not into reunion tours. That was the past and this is now. I’m in touch with Rob Deluca, a very dedicated musician, but haven’t been in touch with the other guys for years.
SR: What are your feelings about the Open To The Public CD?
PD: I hardly remember it. I can only think of a couple of songs. I wasn’t enjoying myself by that point.
SR: It is obvious that you were ready to move on. Did that create tension in the band and lead to the breakup?
PD: No tension. I just left.
SR: Do you know if the band made any attempt to replace you, or did they just dissolve then?
PD: Rob felt it would not work to replace me. Then or now. I think Ray was ready to go also.
SR: Were there any other hard rock bands coming out of New York at the time that impressed you?
PD: I liked Phil’s band Dogma. Other than that I really don’t remember.
SR: Do you ever throw on old hair metal CDs and reminisce or have you closed the chapter on that genre?
PD: I hardly ever reminisce about anything. All there is is now anyway. All chapters from the past are over. I move forward. So no, I don’t put on that kind of music these days. I’m interested in new musical territory and there is much great music out there always. The current band I like most right now is Black-eyed peas. I think they are doing some great stuff. Fun, funky, great production and singing. There is also great stuff from Beck, Jack Johnson and really many others. But that music had it’s time and place for me and I enjoyed it while it lasted.
SR: Seeing as you seem to pursue whatever genre of music catches you at the time, do you think you can predict what you will be doing musically in 5 to 10 years?
PD: Absolutely not. Maybe I won’t even be making music, or maybe I’ll be dead. But I’ve been making music my whole life and I don’t see any reason now to stop. Anyway, I like living in the unknown so I think I’ll keep it at that. Life is more exciting that way.
Thanks to Paul DiBartolo