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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Former 400m star Paul Greene finds inspiration on a bathroom floor

Former 400m star Paul Greene finds inspiration on a bathroom floor

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Sickness benefits

By Bronwyn Thompson
Sydney Morning Herald
May 4, 2012

Cranking it up … Paul Greene traded his acoustic guitar for an electric one.

Paul Greene found inspiration in the most unusual manner.

Be it in the middle of the night in bed, or during a shower, or while stuck on a peak-hour train, inspiration strikes songwriters unexpectedly. Like many, south coast native Paul Greene found his muse in the bathroom - but not how you'd expect.

''Slipping over in my own vomit on a bathroom floor in Airlie Beach is an interesting way to find inspiration,'' the former acoustic devotee recalls of the event that led him to new record Behind the Stars. ''I slipped over in a hotel room and smashed my acoustic guitar, so I had to borrow a friend's electric to play the festival I was at. I started writing on electric guitar, and that's what shaped the album.''

But Greene is the kind of troubadour who defies convention. After all, in a former life the 39-year-old was also a Commonwealth Games and Olympic track and field runner, trading that gruelling career for the often equally hard yards of a touring solo musician.

It hasn't always been smooth sailing. The passionate do-it-yourself artist almost packed it all in after a series of personal and professional roadblocks left him feeling burnt out and demoralised.

''I toured really hard in 2009 and 2010, and [wife Kate and I] were touring with a baby, my five-year-old daughter and our dog; we took the whole show on the road and it was pretty stressful,'' he says. ''There are points we look back on now, fondly, but we weren't looking at them very fondly at the time. So I had some time off because I was absolutely exhausted. I was weak. When I had that time off, I let myself just be lost for a while.''

Patience worked this time; from that point sprang a production job with James Blundell on his record Woolshed Creek, plus writing for artists such as Wendy Matthews, which quickly had Greene excited about making his own music again. His fortuitous slip in the hotel in Queensland simply sealed the deal.

''The band is cranking now; it's a lot of fun and [I'm] really loving it more than I've ever loved playing before,'' says Greene, who's a little more reserved about Behind the Stars itself. ''I think I'll be proud of it when I've had a bit of a break from it. It's a pretty stressful process; I liken it to building a house. You never know quite what the end result is going to be until you're standing in it. I was also renovating a house while I was making the record.''

One other thing has changed for Greene, too. He's taken his foot off the pedal when it comes to touring; despite his reputation as one of the hardest-working musos in the land, he's not going to go back to the demands of the road that almost pushed his family and marriage to the brink. Oh, and he'll make time for the neglected vegie patch at his Culburra Beach home.

''I lived on the road for a very long time and that was part of what happened in 2010; it just wasn't working,'' he says. ''So I'm definitely not going to be touring as much. It's a lifestyle I wouldn't recommend, but you just have to adapt and change with what's required.

''But there were tears in the Nutri-Grain this morning when I was leaving,'' says a solemn Greene, on the road once again. ''I've been home a long time and the kids were upset I was going away. It's pretty full-on, actually. But at the end of the day I get to play music, so I'm very lucky.''


May 18, 8pm, Factory Floor, 105 Victoria Road, Marrickville.
TICKETS Factory Theatre,, 9550 3666, $20.
TRAVEL Catch the 423 or 426 bus from the city down Victoria Road, which houses the venue.
LIVE Heart-on-sleeve storytelling now with full band and a songwriter who's got his groove back.
BEST TRACKS Crossfire, Bad Luck Lately.

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