Paul Bibbins is a rock ‘n roll guitar player and song writer who originally hails from New Orleans. In late 2005 Hurricane Katrina uprooted him to Texas; and he’s lived in the Dallas area ever since.
The lyrics of Paul’s songs never come from personal experiences…as is normal for most song writers. He says, “If I tried writing a song about some personal experience or life experience, it would probably sound contrived or forced. As a result, listening to the lyrics of my songs won’t tell you much about me, my beliefs, or my thought processes.”
Paul’s guitar playing odyssey began in 1973 when he was 17 years old. He initially planned on becoming a bass player. But when he heard the funk rock lead guitar playing of Omar Mesa in “Fencewalk” by Mandrill, and Ernie Isley in “Summer Breeze” by the Isley Brothers, and he also heard all those great 1970’s guitar-driven rock ‘n roll radio hits, such as “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple, with Ritchie Blackmore burning it up on lead and rhythm guitar…the choice was made. It would be electric guitar for Paul…or nothing at all.
After saving up his pennies, he bought his first electric guitar; which was a cheap no-name hollow body guitar that he found at a local New Orleans music store. Paul started out playing guitar right-handed for the first six months; but then he bought a Fender Stratocaster guitar, and switched to playing left-handed…ala Jimi Hendrix. He still plays guitar left-handed today; but he’s actually right-handed.
The first few years of playing any given musical instrument are the formative years where core skills are acquired on your chosen instrument. Paul’s formative years were spent in essentially his own little musical cocoon. He states that, “For the first five years after I picked up the guitar, I literally stayed caged up in my room, and all that I played on my guitar was whatever musical ideas and guitar riffs that came out of my head…good or bad.”
Musicians typically are at their most creative point when they are young. Even though Paul had no specific musical goals at that time, he had the presence of mind to tape record himself playing all those songs and guitar riffs that he created during his beginning five years of playing guitar. He had an Akai reel-to-reel tape recorder at that time…and lots of reels of blank tape; so he tape-recorded nearly everything that he could. Paul states, “Some of my best songs were created during that time. In the 1980’s I transferred all of those recordings from reel-to-reel, onto cassette tapes. Over the years I’ve written many songs…but without a doubt, my most wildly creative material dates back to the 1970’s. A few of the songs on my The Last Perfect Performance album go back 40 years or more. I still have those old cassette tapes…with a lot more songs and ideas on them; just waiting for me to fully develop them and put them out to the public.”
During those first five years of playing guitar, Paul never tried to learn songs off of records or albums, or use a metronome, or jam with other musicians. So in essence the formative years of his guitar-playing life were void of the rules of timing or song structure. He says, “I had no real sense of timing; whether it be 4/4 time, or otherwise. I played everything in free-form fashion. There was no method to my madness back then. I was just young, with no real musical goals or aspirations at that time; and totally clueless about the value of learning from others, and from records, and on working on your musical timing.”
Paul did, however, listen constantly to Jimi Hendrix albums during that time. So Jimi crept into everything that Paul did, without any effort. Jimi Hendrix remains Paul’s primary musical influence to this day!
In this life though, one thing almost always leads to another… That whole process of Paul playing guitar without any musical boundaries (timing or otherwise) during those initial five years, is exactly what led to Paul having a musical sound that he can call his own; and which also led to odd-timing being an integral and signature part of his guitar playing and song writing.
Paul says that he’s never had guitar teachers, or people who’ve mentored him on guitar. It’s always been the case that he just wants to figure things out for himself on guitar…which, in the big scheme of things, helped to stamp his musical sound as his own.
It wasn’t until later on, for purposes of doing cover songs with his various power trios, that Paul got into learning from the records and albums of musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Robert Cray; all of which brought him into the world of traditional musical timing (4/4, 3/4, etc)…which was an absolute necessity.
“A real benefit that I especially got from learning Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn records” states Paul, “is that I learned how to project power in my guitar playing; how to really attack my guitar, and make my guitar riffs and solos really mean something.”