You Don’t Know This Yet.
Jargon. Deep End. The Rhondo Zephyr. Dude. Q.
Tommo. Paul ‘Tommo’ Thompson. Paul Kier.
So where do we begin?
We begin with the truth, of course. A handsome wiry Scouser. A superb lead guitarist, songwriter and vocalist schooled in the pantheon of classic rock – but with an epic sense of musical ambition. Intense. Prowling. Stalking. Paul Thompson.
I first saw Deep End live at The State Ballroom on Dale Street. It was 1996. They had recently changed their name from Jargon and had signed a publishing deal with BMG and a management deal with Mark Cowley and Steve Levy of Hug Management. They were a three-piece and generated a big sound. Imagine a Scouse Talking Heads with a penchant for Heavy Metal. Paul liked his guitar solos brief and fast and he delivered them on a black Les Paul Gibson, which like a true guitar hero, he wore like a weapon. That night at The State they played a song called ‘Deep Blue Sea’ which stuck in my head for days afterwards:
‘Feel it surround me, floating to the bottom of my deep blue sea…’
They had a whole host of brilliant songs: Working Class Kid, Evolution, So We Go On, The Lone Danger, Sleep and as they started working with Lance ‘Tommy’ Thomas they became even more epic reminiscent of Heroes period Bowie. In the studio Paul was obsessive: he insisted on re-recording songs countless times, trying to remain true to a vision that he and he alone could see. I would hear a demo of a new song, become attached to it – and then become dismayed when subsequent new versions would emerge within a brief period of time, usually missing a backing vocal or guitar part that I had become accustomed to hearing.
I toured with Deep End as a guitar tech, at gigs in Liverpool and then at showcases in London and other parts of the country. We travelled up to Glasgow for In The City 1997 and the band played a superb set at Betty Mayonnaise. There were several A&R in the room and I was convinced that the band would sign the huge deal that their talents deserved. We toured with Space in 1998. We travelled in a sleeper coach and I was delighted to see Paul strut his stuff on stages that were almost big enough to hold him. Deep End belonged on the big stage. They shared that quality with Muse, another rock three-piece who can make a stadium appear small.
Unfortunately Deep End were one of the very few quality Liverpool bands of the mid-90s who did not sign a major record deal, which is why the music of Paul Thompson remains criminally unknown. Of the numerous acts who I was privileged to work with during my time at The Liverpool Music House (51-55 Highfield Street), Paul Thompson is perhaps the one who was most deserving of stardom. Paul was extremely intense and would seem to experience stark emotional highs and lows. He was practical, spiritual and where others might see NWO conspiracy theories, Paul would often see a glimpse of the truth, convinced that there was something that we were not being told.
There were too many different band names and too many different band members. Riding with Paul was like riding with Icarus. The songs were incredible but sometimes there were even too many of them! Too many different versions at least.
The music of Paul Thompson was a major part of the soundtrack to my teenage years. Sadly, there is precious little trace of it on the internet. I suspect that this may in part be due to Paul’s obsessive perfectionism – a fear of ‘finishing’ which can paralyse every artist, especially a great one. It is my great hope that Paul will one day self-publish his anthology of recordings. Such a document would provide a useful blueprint to any aspiring musician concerned with the art of songwriting and attitude.