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Introducing: St Paul and the Broken Bones

05/06/2014 14:30 BST | Updated 04/08/2014 10:59 BST

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Photo credit: Shawn Jackson (Sundel Perry Photography)

At a time when TV made pop stars and overhyped indie bands create a musical race to the bottom, St Paul and The Broken Bones are here to lift you out of your inertia and show you the light. With their mix of old time soul and rock 'n' roll confidence, they have caused quite the ruckus. Sure, soul revivalists will love them, but their word of mouth success can't just be pegged to nostalgia. In frontman Paul Janeway (the St Paul in St Paul and The Broken Bones) they have something truly remarkable. Son of a preacher, his voice is an unstoppable force of nature coupled with a band that have a stage presence that demands your full attention. Even if you don't like them, after seeing them live, you wont be able to forget them.

Their first trip to sweet Albion found them stepping off a plane and immediately heading to Rough Trade East for a warmly received in-store. After this they headed across town to BBC Radio 2 for a session with Jo Whiley. Not ones for rest, the next day they played a raucous sold out show at Oslo in Hackney (not to be confused with Norway's most metropolitan of cities) before ending up the following night at the Electric Ballroom opening for fellow Alabama native Jason Isbell. They were here to give the UK a formal introduction to their debut record Half the City and with roaring horns and Hammond organs they can be certain they succeeded in their mission.

"It was kind of like writing songs with your hair on fire!" that is how Paul Janeway explains the song-writing process behind Half the City. When the band headed into FAME studios to record their debut record they had only been a band for about 5 months. "It was really interesting the process, we tried to capture whatever emotion or rawness. We actually recorded it all to analogue tape; we did about 3 takes of each song and chose the best take. There are not a lot of overdubs, it's pretty raw, but that was kind of by design. What we did live we wanted to capture that" says Paul in his loose southern accent.

The members of The Broken Bones had all been in previous bands before forming this one. Having grown up in and around the Muscle Shoals area they could hardly escape its musical history and culture, so instead they decided to embrace it. "It's kind of daunting sometimes, The Rolling Stones recorded in Muscle Shoals, Wilson Pickett, Aretha! Everybody recorded at Fame or Jackson Highway. You can't ever feel too arrogant or confident, there are people walking around on the street who've played on those records! They've played on stuff that you'll probably never ever be able to accomplish. So you can't be like 'oh yeah I'm a pretty big deal!' which is good, it keeps you humble, it's also a good goal to strive for" explains Paul.

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Photo credit: Shawn Jackson (Sundel Perry Photography)

Having grown up in a religious household where secular music was frowned upon, Paul joined The Broken Bones with some pretty gapping holes in his musical knowledge. "I hadn't grown up listening to the Beatles, the stones or any of that. That was all very new to me when I was in this band so it was very different for me" he tells me. "I could only listen to religious gospel music, the only "secular" music I could listen to was The Stylistics and I could listen to some Sam Cooke. When I hit 18 I got away from that [religious] stuff and I got obsessed, I was going crazy, anything I could legally or illegally download. It was like finding Jesus all over again!" he says laughing.

As a new convert to rock n' roll and soul music Paul absorbed it all. From the music to the stage mannerisms of countless entertainers everything helped him focus and become the theatrical frontman he is. "I interned at a rock club in Birmingham called The Bottle Tree Café and I'd see acts come through there that would just kinda sit there and it was boring. I have a religious background, preaching and stuff; I draw from that and from old soul artists."

Signed to Single Lock Records, the record label founded by John Paul White of The Civil Wars fame, it's a match that the band feels very comfortable with. "He's been really good, he's been through this, he's been through a lot of the whole thing and he's a good person to talk to".

Although in Europe Half the City has just been released the band are already thinking about what they'd like to do on their next album. "We've all had a huge obsession with D'Angelo's album Voodoo, so if we could like southern fry that!" Paul says with a smile. "We wrote this record [Half the City] a year and a half ago so we're definitely ready to move on. We're really excited to get to the next one, we feel as a band we know what this is, we've figured out the kind of arena we're going to be in, so I'm just excited to get going and see what's next".

After leaving the UK the band will head back to the US and start focusing on writing their next record before returning to Europe in August and September for a full tour. With the ravenous reception they received on this short stop over things look set to get bigger. While for some, their old school vibes will be a decided turn off there is an authenticity about St Paul and The Broken Bones that can't be denied. These aren't 7 white guys trying to play soul, this isn't soul-lite, this is who they are.

St Paul and The Broken Bones - Call Me