Turbulent year for Hope of the States

From the suicide of their guitarist to exploding on to the music scene with a stunning debut album, it has been a turbulent year for Hope of the States. Lynette Alcock talks to bass player Paul Wilson.

For a burgeoning rock star, Hope of the States bassist, Paul Wilson, has his feet firmly on the ground.

While other 23-year-olds in the same situation might lose their heads and start requesting blue-only M&Ms on the rider, Paul just thinks it is an absurd adventure he is happy to be taking part in.

“I'm not a rock star,” says Paul. “We are all just friends who get paid for having a laugh with each other. It is the best job and the silliest job in the world really.

“It's weird sometimes. I went into HMV the other day and our album was playing and it was on the shelf next to other bands, that was really strange.”

The band's debut album The Lost Riots received rave reviews from the music press when it was released in June, but the recording was marred by the suicide of their lifelong friend and guitarist Jimmi Lawrence.

After months of intensive recording at the remote Grouse Lodge studios in Ireland, the band had relocated to Peter Gabriel's Real World studio near Bath, where on January 15 2004 Jimmi hanged himself.

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What should have been a peak in the young men's lives, their dreams of musical success being realised, was suddenly thrown into tragedy.

“It was a really bizarre and horrible time,” says Paul. “I can't explain it. I have tried to paste it all together and it doesn't work.

“It was just good that the band were there and we were so tight. We have all totally bonded since the death of Jimmi.

“There are a million crazy things that happen in life. We just need to stop looking for an answer.”

Now, eight months on, the band have got a new guitarist and are looking forward to the future with plenty of touring on the horizon.

“I feel like the Littlest Hobo at the minute,” says Paul. “Keeping on moving on. But touring is good. We watch TV series in the tour bus. We have got a series of 24 lined up for the UK tour so I am pretty excited about that.

“We are going to the States next month, then doing the UK, Europe and maybe Japan for Christmas but that hasn't been confirmed yet.

“Our live shows are pretty chaotic. We have live projections at each show, but it is not the sort of stuff a lot of bands have, they are all specifically for each song, it has to be a little bit chaotic or else the music wouldn't sound very good.

“We want people to come away feeling like they have been hit round the head.

“If we're not bleeding at the end it is not a good show for us.”

Which might explain why most of the band are suffering music related injuries, although Paul has his own theory.

“The violinist is the only one of us who was taught to play an instrument,” he says.

“Everyone else made it up which is probably why we now have injuries.

“I had tendonitis but I have had an injection in my arm and now it is OK. It doesn't hurt anymore.

“Simon had something that involved doctors slicing his wrist open and taking some spongey stuff out. He's OK now too.”

Now, injuries cured, new guitarist on board and a cracking album to promote the band are all set to wow audiences across the UK.

Not a day goes by when the band don't remember Jimmi, but they now have their minds firmly on the future.

“Everyone in the band has their moments about Jimmi, but it is really good that we are here for each other. There is always someone to lean on and now we are just getting on with it and having a good time,” says Paul.

t Hope of the States play the Waterfront, Norwich, on Wednesday October 27. Tickets at £9 in advance are available in Norwich from UEA Union, Waterfront, Soundclash and HMV. Credit card bookings: 01603 508050 or www.ueaticketbookings.co.uk

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