From “The Only Goth in the Village” in the ’80s to Fronting a Goth Band Today, Paul Dillon of pMad Discusses His Journey to Releasing His Second Album, “I in Power”

While growing up in Portumna, Co. Galway in the late ‘70s and ‘80s, Paul Dillon’s household was full of then-contemporary Irish singers. “Back [then], we used to have those big, long record players in the house, and the parents would have Big Tom, and Val Doonican, and all that sort of stuff!” laughs Paul whilst reminiscing to Post-Burnout.

Continuing, he says, “But, lucky enough, there was Buddy Holly, and there was The Carpenters, and there was vinyl, so you’d play them and you’d listen to them. Then you got a little bit older, and you went to the cousins’ house, and they had the sleeveless denim jackets, and Status Quo or AC/DC, and you were listening to that and thinking it was cool. And then my cousin left a cassette of Genesis behind, and I listened to that, and I got myself a tape recorder. So, I went and bought Howard Jones’ Human’s Lib as my first [cassette]. I got into spiky hair and all that sort of stuff.”

Paul kept his autodidactic musical education going, learnt to play bass, and became interested in more modes of alternative music. He considers the music of this era to still be his favourite stuff, although he admits that may be influenced by generational bias. At the time, however, it didn’t necessarily endear him to the locals of his town. With an interest in acts like The Cure and The Sisters of Mercy, Paul remembers, “It’s like Little Britain; I was the only goth in the village!”

“I had spiky hair and my father telling me I was a Teddy Boy, and I didn’t know what that was, you know? There wasn’t too many of us. I remember coming home from a nightclub, and I was after winning tickets for Michael Jackson – I was after giving them away to a girl – for the concert in Cork, and this group…gang of lads just came around, and there was me in my Doc Martens, and long black coat, spiked black hair. [One of them said,] ‘You like The Cure, do ya?!’ There was about nine or ten of them. I was like, ‘I’m in for a kicking here, now! Jesus!’ One of the guys said, ‘Actually, The Cure isn’t too bad, you know?’ I was like, ‘Good lad!’ and I legged it down the street! So, yes, the only goth in the village, and I probably still am!”

Fast forward almost forty years later, and Paul – now a well-seasoned musician and radio personality – finds himself, as we all did, stuck inside during the COVID-19 lockdowns. “If you didn’t use it to your advantage, it’s a pity,” says Paul of the lockdowns. “Because you mightn’t ever get a chance like that again to reflect on yourself, you know? Whether it be music, work, or whatever it is, you know? Why be a slave to it? The grave is coming, one way or the other. Instead of rushing to it, you might as well enjoy your way to get there.”

Photo by Kerry Kissane
Courtesy of pMad

So, during this time, Paul started a new project: pMad. When Paul video calls us, a t-shirt in-frame behind him reassures us that “pMad is not a cult,” but what is it? “You’d have no pMad without COVID!” laughs Paul. During the lockdowns, Paul found some old tracks whilst cleaning his house. “Everything I ever played, really, I would’ve recorded,” he says. “Just stick it on the tape recorder – cassettes and CDs – and you go back, and you find that, and you say, ‘Jaysus, I’ll stick that in there, for the craic!’”

Whilst listening to some demos of tracks which never evolved into anything more, Paul liked some of them and wanted to expand on them. Using modern tech, he decided to dedicate some time to expanding on these old tracks and then began working on some new tunes, as well. After he had the foundation of the songs built, he got in contact with the producer Dominik Honold at Protonaut Studios in Germany, who liked his stuff. pMad was then officially born.

Harking back to the goth music he loves, pMad’s digital press kit mentions that the project is recommended for fans of New Order, The The, Joy Division, The Cure, Rammstein, and Killing Joke. “It’s just what other people have said about it,” explains Paul on these references. “Because, for me, it’s pMad. But people say, ‘Oh, I get a bit of New Order out of that,’ ‘I get a bit of Depeche Mode out of that,’ ‘There’s a bit of…this and that.’”

He continues, “People hear what they hear. I just put that out because they’re well-known bands. [Laughs] Hopefully, I might suck someone in with a hashtag I might put in! #NewOrder. What’s that? Who comes up in that? pMad comes up in that. OK. You might get one more listen out of it, you know?”

As an analogue learner operating in a digital world, Paul finds that modern technology has been a huge asset for his ambitions. “Look, anyway you can get to people and the more personal you can be,” says Paul on his methods of reaching people, before using the example of The Wedding Present’s David Gedge’s work ethic and commitment to fan interaction at shows. He continues, “And that’s where pMad is up against it because we haven’t really done any much live or anything. [Laughs] But, I’m at an age now that to go out and try and hard sell 50 people and things like that, I’m not going to do it.”

Indeed, in the digital age, Paul finds that he’s had more success in coaxing people outside of Ireland to pay attention to his music. “It’s like everything, you’ll never be a star in your own town, is what I was told,” he says. “So, when Galway Bay FM or Kerry FM [sic] say, ‘We’re not going to play it! Stop sending me…we’re not interested!’ I can say, ‘As not played on Kerry FM!’ […] It’s no problem! But then you get played in Canada, or Mexico, Argentina, Japan. It’s absolutely brilliant! You could never dream of that before!”

At the beginning of the year, pMad released their second album, I in Power, which had an interesting release strategy. The album is scheduled to drop on streaming platforms on April 5th, but it has been available to purchase and listen to in full since January 5th on their Bandcamp profile or CD.

Contrasting the release schedule of this album to pMad’s 2022 debut record, Who Why Where What, Paul says, “The idea was – on that album – single, single, single ‘cause that’s the attention span [of modern listeners]. And then the album came out, then, and the one or two fans that I do have were saying, ‘Ah, sure, I’ve heard all the stuff, like! There’s nothing really new on the album,’ you know? So, I went the opposite way this time […] so, I released the album, if you wanted to buy it, you could immediately, but the album wouldn’t go on streaming until all of the songs are released.”

pMad’s latest album, I in Power, will be available on all streaming platforms from April 5th but you can buy a copy right now from the band’s Bandcamp profile. Keep up with pMad’s music and social media accounts here. Tune into today’s episode of POSTBURNOUT.COM Interviews… today at 17:00 (IST) on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music Podcasts to hear our full discussion with Paul where, on top of what’s in this article, we also go deep on his latest single “Opinion” and his thoughts on the modern music industry.

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