Former Mansun frontman Paul Draper is promising something very special when he brings his solo show to Sheffield.
He is on the road following the release of his debut solo album Spooky Action – but is not forgetting his roots as frontman of alt-rockers Mansun from 1995 to 2003.
He is planning two sets at The Leadmill in March – solo efforts followed by Mansun tracks.
First, he will play tracks from his acclaimed recent solo debut Spooky Action and the two EPs that preceded it.
After a short break, he will play Mansun’s debut Attack of the Grey Lantern in its entirety for the 21st anniversary of its release.
The choice follows an online poll of fans, set up by Paul, about whether to play Attack of the Grey Lantern – which reached number one and spawned hit singles Stripper Vicar, Wide Open Space, She Makes My Nose Bleed and Taxloss – or top-10 follow-up Six, which was released in 1998 and features hit singles Legacy, Being a Girl (Part One) and the title track.
Such was the response, he decided to visit the records sequentially, promising dates performing Six later in 2018.
At the peak of their powers, Mansun were one of the UK’s most renowned rock exports, inspiring devotion in their fans.
However, n 2003, while recording their fourth album Kleptomania, the band split amid tension and musical differences.
Years of legal battles afollowed, but having been in bands since he was aged 10, Draper, now 47, kept on writing.
“We were a Britpop version of the Sex Pistols,” says Draper, who was born in Liverpool and grew up in Connah’s Quay in north Wales.
“Great while it lasted, but then imploded magnificently.”
“Someone recently told me ‘I really loved Mansun because you were like a prog-musical version of The League Of Gentlemen’.
“Make of that what you will. I was just a working class product of the art school system from a small Welsh town.
“People just think we had good songs. We did so many EPs, played 200 gigs a year, we shook every hand.
“We never took any fan for granted. Those fans never went away.”
Draper, remained active – writing and producing with the likes of Skunk Anansie’s Skin, Menace Beach, The Joy Formidable, as well as his long-term and acclaimed collaborator Catherine AD, known as The Anchoress – and fans started a petition for him to release his solo material.
The online petition forced Draper to revisit dusty solo material. With some older tracks and others written recently in collaboration with The Anchoress – Spooky Action is a portrait of an artist coming to terms with his past but with his heart very set on the future.
“I had a lot to write about,” he says. “I wrote down all of my thoughts about what happened to me in Mansun, and what happened to me afterward. It was just another form of therapy.
“It’s been a cathartic process. I don’t work in a professional manner, I do it to heal something – whatever that is. I got a lot of anger out and I’m on the other side of it now. It’s taken a lot to get there.”
“I’ve dealt with the past; the music was just one of many processes that helped repair me as a person
“The music started out quite vengeful and ended in a happy place, just feeling happy and privileged to be able to make an album.”
So much so, that Draper is already looking ahead to touring and a follow-up solo album.
“Someone once told me that people in the music industry used to say ‘don’t sign musicians like Paul Draper any more; just get people from stage school backgrounds’. But if you do that, you end up with homogenized music. Where’s the fun in that?”
Paul Draper plays The Leadmill on Friday, March 2. For tickets, priced from £19.50, see leadmill.co.uk