Jim Strawn from Sincerely Paul

Jim Strawn from Sincerely Paul

by Jason

I am so glad to finally get to interview you.  Grieve was a fabulous disc and still holds up today.  Can you tell us some fond memories of that time in your life musically?

It has been approx. 14 years since the band split and went their separate ways. Honestly, I never imagined I’d be doing an interview about Sincerely Paul all these years later. But thanks to the internet, it has helped to bridge a gap between the fans and some of the members of SP. And thanks for the comment about Grieve. I am so grateful to have been a part of that creative process. Some of the best memories I have from that era was playing live and meeting fans that appreciated what we did. Although one of our first big shows was Cornerstone in the late 80’s, I would have to say the 1992 Creation Fest show in Pennsylvania stands out in my memory as my favorite live show. The CD had just been released on Blonde Vinyl, and we were able to spend several days after the show hanging out with our audience at the festival. The shows we did at Knott’s Berry Farm Jubilation, as well as some of our Hollywood Club gigs rank up there as well.

When did you get started in music?

I can’t remember a day I haven’t loved music. My mom had me in piano lessons starting at age 6.  That lasted a few years. I then began singing in various plays and church functions throughout my teen years. Just prior to joining the band, I was taking opera and voice training through Cal State Fullerton’s musical department. I was also writing a lot of poetry and song lyrics in my college English classes.

With Grieve being released in 1991 and no subsequent follow up album, what sort of musical projects did you pursue after Sincerely Paul parted ways?  If you know of any, are there places that one could obtain some of your other music?

After leaving Sincerely Paul in 1993, I went on to form a new band named SLIDE. One of the first songs I recorded was “The back and the blue”, a previous Sincerely Paul song that was never finished. So I tweeked it a bit with the help of a keyboardist friend of mine, but ultimately fell back on SP guitarist Harold Raymond and SP drummer Mike Baker to put the finishing touches on the song. I was under time constraints because REX records wanted me to record the song so it could be featured on their 2nd compilation CD. Commercially, this was the only song to ever be released by Slide. As time went on, Slide eventually evolved in a three piece band with new members with the hopes drummer Mike Baker would also come on board as well. The compilation CD was released through REX. The single generated enough interest for REX to offer SLIDE a recording contract. Unfortunately, I had to turn the contract down as they simply refused to fairly negotiate with the band on any level yet wanted me to sign a 5 album deal. As much as I wanted to sign the contract, I didn’t feel it was wise for me to sign away that many years of my life. Looking back now, it was the right decision to make. But for music lovers out there wanting to know about lost Slide tracks, they have recently been found, and I am in the process of digitally preserving these lost tracks. The Grieve CD shows up on Ebay and Amazon.com and they are the only places I know where you can the CD.

In terms of parting ways, what circumstances caused it?  How many songs did you get into the second album and why did the band stop recording?

I would say creative differences caused Sincerely Paul to split. I will even go a step further and say some of our personalities clashed at that time as well. We drove our poor manger Charles crazy. Some of us wanted to take the 2nd album in a different musical direction, while others wanted it to go another way. Following a show we did at Six Flags over Georgia in the summer of 1993, I saw the writing on the wall.  I struggled with making the decision, and was the first to leave the band. A few weeks later after my departure, drummer Mike Baker left the band as well. I imagine it was a painful time for all of us. It certainly was for me. I had been with these guys for close to 7 years. Prior to the split, we had about 3 to 4 new Sincerely Paul songs we were working on. We had performed some of them live, and was just recently told by guitarist Harold Raymond he has these live tracks on tape. The tentative working title at the time for the 2nd album was “Ego-Mine”.

In the 17 or so years since the release of Grieve, what have you been doing?  This could be musical, jobs, or anything you can think of that you would be willing to share.

After Slide, I decided to return to graduate school and get my Master’s degree. I was accepted to USC in Los Angeles and graduated in 1998. I have been practicing as a licensed Clinical Psychotherapist for the past 9 years both in private practice and for the State of California. I am also a real estate investor and manage my properties here in Southern California. Artistically, I still write, and recently I designed a fan website based on Disney’s Tower of Terror Attraction. The website is located at www.serviceelevator.com Because of the re-newed interest lately in Sincerely Paul, I set up a forum on the website for fans to post messages and interact. It can be found here http://p067.ezboard.com/bserviceelevator. Scroll down and find the forum “Sincerely Posts”.

With the advent of the digital recording age, would you consider recording more music with your old band mates?  How about some solo projects of your own?

That’s a tough question to answer. I’m not sure if Sincerely Paul (meaning all 5 of us) could ever record again. I’m not saying it’s out of the question, but who knows….stranger things have happened. I will tell you this. I was very disappointed that I was not able to release a full length Slide album. Slide allowed me to do the material I always have wanted to do.  I could see putting out a Slide album today and would do it if I had the right people involved with it. I would also welcome the notion of having some SP members be involved with it. Ideally, I would need to work with a talented keyboardist to make this project happen. So yeah, if I was able to find the right keyboardist today, I would definitely put out that Slide project that I’ve always wanted to do.

Have you kept in touch with your old band mates?  How about those from your other projects, if there were any?

Until just recently, I had no idea where any of the other band members were nor   had I been in contact with any of them for approx. 10 years. I have to give a big thanks to the Sincerely Paul blog page that was started http://christiannewwave.wordpress.com/2006/07/28/sincerely-paul/ because that page has helped me reconnect with both SP band members Mike Baker and Harold Raymond. I recently met with Mike Baker and it was a thrill to talk with him again and reminisce about the old times. I have been in email contact with guitarist Harold Raymond and hope to visit with him in person soon. It’s been great hearing from them after all these years. Talk about a lot of catching up to do! As far as Slide, I have had no contact with the other 2 members whatsoever. I wouldn’t even know where to begin to look for them.

There are murmurings about releasing unreleased Sincerely Paul tracks.  Is this true?  If so, how many will be released, in what format, and how far along are you in the process of gathering together those tunes?

All I know at this point is that Mike Baker and Harold Raymond have some live cuts of unreleased Sincerely Paul tracks. I may have some as well but need to dig further.  I did recently find some lost Slide Tracks that I recently put into MP3 format. So the possibility of releasing these is there, but how we are going to do it is another issue. Mike and I have talked about doing a website. If that comes to fruition, we will probably offer the lost music tracks of Sincerely Paul and Slide there. Plus, the remaining members of SP who went on to do Laughing Stock may have some material to offer. I guess I have to ask everybody to be patient as we truly have just started to talk again after all these years. I also want to see if there is enough interest from people before we set out to do anything. I would say, a website is highly likely to happen at this point.

Personally, what is it about music that makes you want to create it?

I believe music speaks to the mind, heart, and soul in all of us. It says something about us, and helps us communicate to others. This has helped motivate me to do what I have done in the past (musically speaking). Lyrics and music are of equal importance to me…it’s the blending of both of those worlds that make music such an interesting and fascinating medium.

What is a day like in the life of JPS?  What do you see yourself doing 10 years from now?

We’ll a typical day for me is seeing patients during the day, and working on real estate during the evenings or weekends. Since I have been in the mental health profession, you can probably imagine I have heard and seen a lot of “horror stories”. But it is rewarding to know when you’ve have helped out another person who may be hurting and in distress. I am and will always be truly thankful for the things that have been given to me over the years (ie: family, friends, opportunities). In ten years or less, I plan to be retired and traveling. I love to travel, and plan to do more as I get closer to retiring early in my life. If I am given the opportunity to perform musically again, I would welcome that as well.

What are you currently listening to?  What artists have been in your rotation lately?

Lately, I have re-discovered The Beatles. I am also listening to a lot of newer music courtesy of XM radio. I absolutely love XM, and listen to a lot of Electronica and D.J. culture music. Still love Patrick O’hearn, Tangerine Dream. Also enjoy listening to The Sneaker Pimps, Garbage, and The Smiths. Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett are in rotation as well.

Any other comments you would like to make?

I truly want to thank all the fans that have remembered us over the years. Thank you for your emails, your myspace invites, your blogs,…. everything. I have always enjoyed interacting with our audience. Who knows, maybe some new material will come out of this. In the meantime, you can use the above mentioned links to keep informed of what’s happening.

You can also go to one of these 2 places to chat about Sincerely Paul. http://vagrantcafe.com/forum/showthread.php?t=24

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