Former College pupil rocking all over USA

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A FORMER Portadown man is making waves as a member of a hard rock group who are carving a name for themselves as one of the premier bands in Pittsburgh, writes Graeme Cousins.

Paul, a former member of the Edenderry Primary School Choir and the owner of in excess of 100 guitars, joined Long Time Divided in May 2009 after answering an advert on the ‘craigslist’ website.

Having played guitar since the age of 10, Paul drew upon all his talents to hit all the right notes at the audition and the rest, as they say, is history.

After three successful years touring Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York, the band have unleased their debut album.

Paul told the ‘Times’ how he came to join the band, “At the audition the band played some of the songs they had already written to show me what they were about and I was so impressed with them,” said the 34-year-old.

“I was just floored they hadn’t already been signed up. It just took off from there, they showed me some riffs to work on and I came back the following Friday and we just jammed the songs out and we clicked. It was the first time I had ever auditioned for a band and has become the one and only band I have played in.”

Paul explained how his love of music first blossomed at primary school in Portadown. He said, “I’ve always been interested in music, I was in the choir in Edenderry Primary School and my father got me my first acoustic guitar when I was ten. When I moved on to Killicomaine JHS in 1989 I had more exposure to different styles of music and I discovered the band Queen, I was an instant fan and to this day they are still my favourite band. They really opened my eyes to a higher level of music and really inspired me to want to play an instrument.

Paul continued, “It was when I started Portadown College in 1992, that I jumped head first into the music scene. That following Christmas I got my first electric guitar and a small amplifier and by then I was a die-hard Metallica fan and I got really absorbed into the ‘metal’ scene.

“The people that share that music with you have a bond stronger than any other music scene or lifestyle. I had many friends that also played guitar and we would get together regularly and they would teach me various songs that I wanted to play. I worked summer jobs in different bakeries in Portadown to earn money to buy better equipment.

“My pride and joy then was a Jackson Dinky guitar and a Marshall amplifier. I went to Belfast a lot to see the big bands come. When I saw Megadeth at the Ulster Hall, I knew I wanted to be on stage.”

After his A-levels Paul moved to England to attend Salford University, where he undertook a BEng Aeronautical Engineering degree.

He commented, “Being just outside Manchester opened up many more opportunities to see live music and meet more like-minded people to jam with. I bought a guitar within days of being there but life got in the way when my father passed in 1998.

“It threw me off balance and I struggled for a while. I soon picked myself back up with the help of family, friends and my fiance Ellen and I started all over again.

“I started collecting guitars round that time. I see them as objects of art as well as a practical instrument. To date I must have owned in excess of 100 guitars.”

Paul continued, “When I graduated in 2001, it was a few months before the 9/11 atrocities and when that happened the Aerospace Industry was really hit hard and I just couldn’t find a job in the sector so I got a job as a Senior Business Associate in the Nat West bank in Manchester.

“I still found time to play though and was jamming with a guy on a regular basis. He later was the best man at my wedding in 2006.”

Paul moved back to Portadown in 2003 and married Ellen in 2006, after which they decided to make a life for themselves in the USA. They moved first to Nebraska and then to Pittsburgh. They have a two-year-old son called Bryce.

He said, “I soon met some really great friends and another partner in crime when it came to collecting guitars. We jammed together a lot and when he joined a local cover band it prompted me to look for an opportunity, which is when I checked the ads on ‘craigslist’ and found Long Time Divided.”

Long Time Divided are perched to succeed where many other bands before them have failed. They have played with many national and international acts including Soulfly, Static-X, Fuel, Anvil, Hedley, Jimmie’s Chicken Shack, Incite and Ace Frehley from Kiss. Two years ago they won a national ‘Battle of the Bands’ competition called A Fight For Fame.

Paul said, “That was a fantastic achievement and gave us some great exposure. Currently we hold endorsements from Splawn Amplification from Dallas, North Carolina, Explore Apparel from New York and NVUS Clothing from Pennsylvania.

“On November 10 my band’s full-length debut album will be released worldwide in digital format as well as in CD format in the USA. We hope to tour next year to support the release and we will be heading back to the studio to begin work on our second album.

“I would love nothing more than to get us over to Northern Ireland to play.

“Since the others need work visas to come over to play it’ll be a long process no doubt, but UK and Ireland are definitely on the scope.”