Wat deze plaat zo speciaal maakte was de manier waarop het trio een eigen rockabilly sound opbouwde uit een mix van country, vroegere rock & roll, blues, jazz en surf. Op dit kenmerkende, eigen geluid werd voortgeborduurd en inmiddels zijn we acht albums verder. Het zijn echter niet de studiobezoeken, maar de vurige live shows die ervoor gezorgd hebben dat The Paladins vandaag de dag nog rondlopen als band. De rauwe blues en surfklanken uit Gonzalez’s gigantische 1957 Guild, het hoge entertainmentgehalte van de contrabassist, de strakke drums, de mengelmoes van authentieke muziekstijlen.
Met meer dan 200 shows per jaar bracht de band bijna elke dag door on the road. Bijna een miljoen kilometer werd er gereden in hun oude vertrouwde Dodge bus. Tijdens deze tours werd het podium gedeeld met grootheden als Stevie Ray Vaughan, Los Lobos, X, The Blasters en natuurlijk The Fabulous Thunderbirds. Volgens vele pers is de band ongetwijfeld één van de beste live acts die op een podium heeft mogen zweten, de meest krachtige en hardwerkende roots- rocking groep van de natie, ‘the real stuff’. De veteranen hebben al eens eerder de kans gehad de status te bewijzen in de Grote Zaal van VERA, in 1990.
In 2004 leek het erop dat de band er wel klaar mee was, en wilde frontman Gonzalez zich wat meer richten op andere soorten muziek. Samen met Chris Gaffney werd hij onderdeel van de alternatieve country band Hacienda Brothers. Tijdens deze hiatus was het stil rond The Paladins en verschenen alleen enkele live albums en Dvd’s. Uiteindelijk kon het trio de verleiding niet weerstaan en treden ze sinds 2010 sporadisch op in binnen- en buitenland, met hier en daar een tour.
Dat het laatste album alweer uit 2003 dateert, lijkt niemand wat uit te maken. De band voelt zich, net als vroeger, overduidelijk meer thuis op het podium dan in de studio. Vanavond is het trio met de jarenlange ervaring in volle glorie te aanschouwen.
Paladins guitarist Dave Gonzales started the band with high school pal Thomas Yearsley, Paladins bassist until last year, nearly two decades ago, bent on passing the music of past generations--namely Gonzales' penchant for Link Wray, and a vast sampling of country and blues--to the next. Round about five years ago, with thousands of shows and a handful of brilliant, pure rockabilly albums under their collective belt, the Paladins became a biyearly Dingo Bar mainstay, pulling into town and pulling out all the stops at the now defunct club. "We're playing at a new place, because, unfortunately, the Dingo Bar isn't around anymore," said Gonzales from his San Diego home. "Miguel (Corrigan), who is a great guy, had us there many times and was a great friend to the band, hung in there as long as he could. But (current Paladins drummer and former Sultans member) Brian (Fahey) told us about this great new place called the Launchpad, so that's where we're at this time around."
Fahey, who had been in an earlier incarnation of the Paladins--the one that recorded Let's Buzz for Alligator Records--rejoined the group following the departure of Jeff Donovan after a recent European tour. Shortly thereafter, Yearsley bowed out, making room for young bassist Joey Jazdzewski, a veteran of the James Harman Band. "It's a new line-up," said Gonzales. "Brian made what's probably our most popular record to date and toured with us for about three years before moving out to the 'Q.' Jeff was with us for about five years. Right before he left, I had just seen Brian, because we were playing the Dingo one night and the Sultans were playing across the alley (at Brewster's Pub). So I went over on my break to check them out, and Brian came over on his to hear us and wound up sitting in. Afterwards, he said, 'You know if you ever need me, I'm ready,' so I called him up after Jeff left, he came out to California, and we started working out the sound."
With their membership in a state of flux recently, Gonzales says he's more thankful than ever that the Paladins are still playing. "It changes, you know," he said. "You can play the same songs with new guys, and it sounds a little different. But Brian's a way-back-in-the-pocket drummer and Joey's a way-back-in-the-pocket bass player, and we just all clicked."
"It's taken about a year for Brian and I to really get locked in, but it's really starting to feel good. A number of record labels are interested in making the new record, so we've just got a couple of weekends before it's rehearsal time and demo time. Hopefully, by the end of the year we'll have a new disc recorded," he continued.
The Paladins' sound, according to the Guild-slinging Gonzales, is rockabilly in its purest form. "We stay pretty rootsy about the songwriting thing. We're not big political or ballad writers. We're honky-tonk, rockabilly with a little blues in there," he said. "We really like the vintage trip. That's what the Paladins have always been about--Link Wray, Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Stones--that early sound."
Gonzales credits his mother for sparking his interest in music, an interest that has yet to pass. "She was hip, you know. She bought all the cool records when they came out and supported our garage bands. I'm lucky that I got turned on to that music and never shied away from it. I've always just really liked early rock 'n' roll, rockabilly and blues."
And with the recent rockabilly revival still on the upswing, Gonzales is more excited about the Paladins than ever. "It's great, man. It's coming around again, and a lot of young people are coming out to our shows to hear rockabilly," he said. "When we were starting out in the early '80s, people didn't know what rockabilly was."
- Dave Gonzalez: vocals, guitar
- Thomas Yearsley: bass
- Jeff Donavan: drums
It all started out over 17 years ago back in San Diego, California when the Paladins were still in high school. They were already combining country, early rock & roll with blues and jazz, creating their own unique sound. Since then, the Paladins have released four full-length albums, a number of singles and consistently performed and toured worldwide upwards of 200 shows per year, many years driving up to 75,000 miles in their trusty old Dodge van (their current Dodge has over 360,000 miles on the clock!). The Paladins have traveled well over a million miles and now they have finally released the long-awaited live album, appropriately titled Million Mile Club (4AD).
The Paladins-Dave Gonzalez on guitar & vocals, Thomas Yearsley on upright bass, and drummer Jeff Donavan (whose other numerous credits include Dwight Yoakam, John Fogerty, and Social Distortion) have developed a strong national and international following. They have performed and toured with the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Los Lobos, X, The Blasters and The Fabulous Thunderbirds. In fact, it was Kim Wilson of the Fabulous Thunderbirds who took the Paladins into the studio in Austin, Texas and produced and recorded their critically acclaimed self-titled debut album in '87.
The massive national and international touring continued, fueled by three more full-length Paladin albums: Years Since Yesterday and Let's Buzz (both produced by Los Lobos' Steve Berlin and Mark Linnet), and Ticket Home (produced by Los Lobos' Cesar Rosas), as did critical acclaim. The Los Angeles Times called the Paladins "...one of the most powerful roots- rocking groups in the nation," while Alternative Press said, "Undoubtedly one of the best live bands to sweat upon a stage, the Paladins are the real stuff."
Live shows are what have kept the Paladins around for this long: 'We thrive on the sweat and the energy that our crowds create' says Gonzalez, 'We've resisted gimmicks and pigeonholes since the beginning' says Yearsley, 'We just play music that we believe in." The Paladins play their music to a continually growing legion of admirers who represent a wide cross-section of music fans, from retro-50's fans to blues junkies to rock and rollers-basically anybody who is a fan of quality music that is played with passion. The Paladins have found passionate fans at their new label 4AD, whose diverse roster includes Lush, and Lisa Germano, among others.
Many of the songs on Million Mile Club have been heard by Paladin fans before, but not exactly like this. 'These are the songs that people yell out for at our shows, the ones they love from the records: says Yearsley. 'But like us, these songs have grown. They've evolved with us-we sing them a little harder, we play them a little harder. These songs are a bit rougher than their original versions. 15 years on the road will do that to a song" 'But theres three newer tunes in here-'15 Days Under The Hood', 'One Step' and 'Every Time I See Her," says Gonzalez. "They're quickly becoming the new favorites, so we had to include them on the live record."
The Paladins have always kept three things in mind-quality, integrity and tradition-and Million Mile Club shows that The Paladins have remained loyal to those three objectives. And it's clear that-because of having performed thousands of shows-The Paladins are a fully evolved band, competent and mature, tight but definitely not tired. And that's not going to change.