Interview with Paul Ehmer of Dimitri’s Rail April 15, 2011April 24, 2011 by: Shauna O'Donnell
April 15, 2011
Desert Highway Records
Paul Ehmer (Vocals, Guitar)
By: Shauna O’Donnell
HI PAUL, THANKS FOR TALKING WITH ME. HOW ARE YOU TODAY?
Hey how’s it going? I’m doing good, just busy.
YOU HAVE A NEW MANAGEMENT TEAM. WHO IS IT?
Lewis Entertainment Group. Jeff started Pace Concerts and Jason Lewis is his son. They have been in the live side forever. His dad then became the chairman of Clear Channel Entertainment Sports and so they started an entertainment company. I just happened to meet the right person. I walked into their office, there was a gold and a platinum album on the wall, there was stuff by James Gandolfini signed and it was pretty crazy. He started explaining everything about his family. They have a well respected name within the whole huge concert arena and amphitheatre scene. He said he wanted to jump right into it with us. Everyday he calls me with something that is huge. I have been doing this for over ten years and now it is really taking off.
I’VE TALKED TO A FEW BANDS THAT SAID THE TEN YEAR MARK IS WHEN THEY STARTED TO TAKE OFF.
Yep, that’s what’s going on. It’s very strange. It is starting to happen so fast.
DO YOU GUYS HAVE A PUBLISHING DEAL THROUGH UNIVERSAL/FONTANA?
We released an EP through Universal/Fontana through a label underneath them. It was an artist/label service kind of thing. The way that works is a little different.
YOU GUYS ARE WORKING ON A FULL LENGTH ALBUM RIGHT NOW AREN’T YOU?
Yes, we are working on a full length album. It will depend on who we will release with as to when it is released. The full length album will have those four songs from the EP, but we are going to re-record them and basically re-do them with our producer. We are already getting picked up on radio. “Will Never Break” went national with Clear Channel and then it got picked up in college station / Bryan Tx in rotation over there at 103.9, so it is already starting to spread around. I’m talking to some radio stations about putting a download link up on the radio station to actually do a free download for a week or something. We are already planting all the seeds for radio and it will be easy for it to be put out on other stations. We are on eight or nine Clear Channel stations in rotation, but they own like 800 plus stations. It is basically syndicated. It’s one of those things where you get it out there and it will start creating a buzz. When I told that to Jason Lewis he said “I’m real impressed with all of the radio play you are getting. That is really good. I see the embers burning already.” That is why he is hitting up so hard on the record label and publishing side. He knows that is what they are going to want to do. He wants to basically take them a full project and then they run with it.
HOW FAR ALONG ARE YOU WITH THE NEW ALBUM?
Everything is tracked, but I have to do vocals on maybe four more songs and I’m done. We just finalized the big power ballad. It is all coming along really good and it is all happening at the right time.
WHO IS PRODUCING IT WITH YOU?
Our producer, Daryl Youngblood, is doing it. I have been friends with him for fifteen years. He has had nine Top 10 hits and some of his stuff has been placed in TV, film and with ESPN. He has built a name for himself. I signed a producing deal with him. We are co-writing when working on the album and that is probably the best decision I have ever made. I am totally sold on the idea of bands using the right producer and co-writing with them. They know what people are looking for. They know the platform of what they want to hear and when. It is super important.
WILL YOU HAVE ANY GUEST SPOTS ON THE ALBUM?
We have a rapper who is going to come in. We are going to re-do “Foo” which is the song that we give 50% of the proceeds to The Layla Grace Children’s Cancer Foundation. We are going to re-mix it and have a rapper on there whose name is 2Cold. That has been going over real well at live shows, so we thought we better record it. We close with it now and the crowd gets all crazy. My sister just started playing violin with us again.
Yes, she sure does. I give her a hard time about this, but she took a break for a while and we played this big show at the House of Blues down here and it was packed. She was in the audience and afterwards she said “I should have played.” And I was like “I told you.” Now, she is all excited, so she will play with us whenever she can. She plays by ear and she reads music, so she can play anything just by listening. She has been playing violin since she was five, so it is good to have family in there, it makes it fun.
THAT IS ONE OF THE REASONS WHY I LOVE THE BAND HURT SO MUCH, I LOVE ELECTRIC VIOLIN. I THINK IT ADDS SO MUCH TO THE MUSIC.
Yes it does, I agree.
YOU GUYS TOOK A BREAK FOR A LITTLE OVER A YEAR.
Yeah, we took a little hiatus.
DO YOU THINK THE BREAK HELPED AND ALLOWED YOU TO COME BACK STRONGER?
Absolutely! When we came back, it was a completely different line-up. I got kind of burnt out. I got to the point where I said I was just going to stop for a while. We did the first album, people were not on the same page and it was just really hard to do anything. When we took the break, it gave me some breathing room and I got the bug again. Once we came back out, it was a different ballgame. At that point we had a different guitar player even when we came back in. About maybe a year and a half later, our current guitar player came on board and the other guy is no longer a part of the band. I’ve actually known this guitar player for sixteen years. It is definitely the right line-up now. When I look back and listen to our first album, I can hear the progression of the band and see where we needed to make some changes. There is nothing wrong with taking a break.
GETTING BACK TO THE INSTRUMENTS YOU USED IN WRITING AND RECORDING THIS ALBUM, DID YOU INCORPORATE ANY OTHER INSTRUMENTS INTO YOUR MUSIC BESIDES THE STANDARD GUITAR, BASS AND DRUMS?
Yes, there is a lot of orchestration behind the album. There are keyboards in one of the songs. We let our producer have free reign with it. Eventually, when we can afford it, I would like to have an actual orchestra behind it.
DOES IT MAKE IT HARD TO DUPLICATE LIVE WHAT YOU HEAR ON THE CD?
Not necessarily because these guys that I play with are so good that they pull it off. Those other accompaniments are not so much forefront. Our live show is what really started making us out here and how word started spreading around. They used to say “Dude, we like you better live than on your CD.” Now it is equal. I want to add more stuff in, but that is a whole other production thing that you have to deal with.
THE SINGLE “WILL NEVER BREAK” IS DOING REMARKABLY WELL, ESPECIALLY ON RADIO. ARE YOU GUYS GOING TO BE MAKING ANY MUSIC VIDEOS?
That is the next step. Absolutely! We’ve got to have one. We are also going to do a new photo shoot. I’ve already got people who want to shoot it for us and people who want to be in it. We are ready to do that. I think with this new manager, it will help orchestrate that a little bit. Everything is falling into place right now and everything is happening at the right time. It’s really strange because you work really hard to get to a point and then all of a sudden you see these things start happening.
DO YOU GUYS BOOK YOUR OWN SHOWS? I SAW YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS UNDER BOOKING.
Yes, we are still doing all of it. I’m being careful not to book too much because of all this other stuff going on. I’m actually talking to a radio station that we are on rotation with about doing a big back to school show at A&M. Those responsibilities of booking will be taken away from me soon I’m sure. That is not a bad thing. I’m ready to show up and play without having to worry about everything else. I have people asking me to book them too. We are going to be putting together shows at the House of Blues and a big benefit for the Wounded Warriors. We are going to be doing that probably after the summer here in Houston and then spreading it around to the other House of Blues.
Sick Puppies was a blast! That was a fun show we did with them at the Hard Rock. It was an acoustic show. One of the most fun and the funniest shows we did was with Vince Neill out at a biker rally. I got to see Jackyl and Great White play. It was awesome. I got to hang out back stage and there was Vince Neill. I think the shows at the House of Blues are probably my most favorite. We fit really well with the venue and our fan base loves it. We always have a lot of fun.
THE NAME DIMITRI’S RAIL, IS THAT THE NAME OF RAILROAD TRACKS CLOSE TO YOUR HOUSE?
(Laughing) No, we were trying to come up with a really cool band name and that’s what came out. I know it’s really random. It was over ten years ago and I was throwing things together. I thought it sounded kind of cool, so I kept the name. I had to come up with a meaning later. Our music is about circumstances in people’s lives and what people go through. It is an emotionally based kind of music, so you could basically say it is about someone’s path through life. It’s not necessarily about anyone in particular. A rail is like a road and about that person traveling and what they go through in life. I guess that was the best explanation that I came up with for the name, so that is what I’m sticking to. It fits and it makes sense.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE INTERVIEW.
Thank you very much. I really appreciate this.
I HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON. I HOPE YOU GET OUT TO CALIFORNIA.
Yes, absolutely, I need to. That would be awesome!