Back in the early years of No Fun and I was mixing them, people would always think Paul and I were related. So I can't really remember how it started, but we started convincing people that we were brothers. Well one show I was able to convince some people that we were identical twins and we were born the same size. However when we were kids we were involved in a freak circus accident. Where Paul was stretched and I was compressed.... I remember it getting more and more outlandish as time passed.
The Circus accident in detail... Him and I were pulled into the Clown show, when they pull kids from the audience into a part of their show. They stuffed me into a canon and tied Paul's feet and arms to two clown cars. Wasn't supposed to be real, but that's the accident part. I got shot out of the canon into a wall and shortened. Paul got stretched by the clown cars. The drunken girls at the Rail thought it was a hoot... Penny I think was there too.... Anyway that was long ago. Amazed I even remembered that one... ha!
I enjoyed No Fun but I wish to focus on Paul's music and his band Polly.
I first experienced Polly at a late night show at The Dental Lab. The place was packed and I was standing at the back of the room when Polly came on. I couldn't see them through the crowd but what I heard compelled me to move up closer to see the band. I was very impressed with the songs. It was as if I discovered a band that I had been yearning to hear my entire life. The music was hitting me right in my 'sweet spot'. A lot of acts in town are good but this was something different. The hooks were very catchy and when I got close enough to actually see the band my eyes ate up what they saw.
Paul was wearing his captain's hat and had a total rock star stance and look. I thought "These guys are my instant favorite band and are heading for the big time" They had 'hit' quality songs and when they played 'Put A Little English On It' I was wowed. Paul's vocals amazed me, such style and flare, even a bit sassy which I totally enjoyed. His guitar solos dazzled me. Such talent! I've never seen anything like that, and I wanted more. I used my phone to video a song or two. I did the same when I caught them at the Railway Club. Regrettably, I've lost the phone and the footage was lost during a hard drive crash on my last computer.
When I saw them at the Columbia Theatre, I began to pick up what I believed to be a slight David Bowie influence. It was if I now was a student of Polly. His approach and his writing gave me this energy that I hadn't felt for a very long time. I was actually excited to see them. I hadn't felt that way about a band in quite a long time. When I saw them at Lana Lou's I sat and stood up front I was so into it.
I introduced myself to Paul after the show and confessed that I'm a huge fan. He is very down to earth and to chat with. I had difficulty because I was totally starstruck! He's affected me on many levels, his music, his on stage persona, his guitar work, particularly his solos, and his humbleness are notable traits that I admire. I ran into him in New Westminster one day and he asked how I was. At first I couldn't place him because he wasn't in his stage outfits! I enjoyed our conversation and felt uplifted all day. I hope to see him again!
"I've known of Paul and his talents on the guitar for some time. Obviously aware of his partnership with David M. as No Fun (The Beatles of Surrey) and also with The Transvestimentals (I know both Valeria and Justin from that band) and enjoyed Paul's playing in a live setting many a time. But it took a combination of Glam rock, the Heritage Grill, and the Pointed Sticks to get me better acquainted with Paul as both a performer and a person. This would, or course, be "Polly" in all its glittery glory. Gord & Tony from the Sticks mentioned that they were working with Paul for live performances of this project… and it blew my mind from the first note.
You see, I was a teenager in and around Montreal in the early to mid-1970's and glam and theatrical rock was always big in La Belle Province. Hearing the sounds of Polly sent me straight back to that time when I was 16, 17, 18-years old (1972, 73, 74) and heading down to some sketchy bar in Old Montreal to score some black hash and catch some live music. This was a similar sound to that of the era - Bowie-esque, Marc Bolan-esque, Mott The Hoople-esque, everything I loved from that era. And here it was again, rushing back into mind. As the Buzzcocks once wrote, feel(ing) like I'm almost 16 again. Simply stunning original tunes in that style, twisted to perfection and knocked out of the park by a glam flamingo who sang like David and played guitar like Mick and… oh, gosh.. I was completely enthralled. Fan boydom to the max!
I got to know Paul much better at that point and he I as well. I want to believe there was a mutual respect but Paul/Polly was/is much more a true star, shining bright. Truly one of our own musical treasures. He deserves every last drop of love and respect as an artist… and a human being.
That he was also a hardcore Montreal Canadiens fan, like me, makes the shine all the brighter. Love and respect."
I saw him play with no fun at the railway club a dozen times, at least. But the gig that stands out was a show that I think they called "No fun's pact with Satan". At the end of it they realized the error of their ways and they renounced Satan, but the topper was that Paul suddenly announced Satan had taken all his hair at which point he removed the touque he had been wearing to reveal a completely shaved head. This was very shocking to me as a young man who wore plenty of gel in his locks and couldn't conceive of shaving all of it off.
What I have always loved about Paul's guitar playing, is that he manages to make what he plays sound both familiar and fresh. Which is unbelievably difficult.
And of course what is surprising is how shy Paul can be off stage, in stark contrast to how he performs. It raises an interesting question about which persona is really Paul. But as I think about it, I can imagine it's all part of who he is.
And finally, the fact that Paul has consistently played in bands his entire adult life speaks to a love of music, that comes from a completely honest place. Because let's face it being in a band can be a real pain in the ass, and most of us don't bother after a while. But Paul always makes music.
I met Paul Leahy in the fall of 1974 when I transferred to Princess Margaret High and I think I was probably jealous of him from the first moment. I wanted to lay guitar but hadn’t quite figured how to go about it. He was already a wonderful player who echoed all the British guys I loved – Beck, Ronson et al.
Then he joined or formed Toys and my friend Gay Chill kept me up on their career – playing here, playing there – on TV, on the Christmas telethon! and we waited as anxiously for them to come on as if it were the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. Then they toured Japan. It took me almost 30 years before I got there with my band.
I didn’t know Paul well, at all, but my friend Bruce McKenzie played keyboards in the band and he’d tell me after practices how good Paul was, shaking his head. He was an accomplished musician but Paul was one of those guys who was just on another level.
I lost track of him until I saw his picture in the paper with some weirdo outfit called No Fun, who wrote their own stuff, released their own records and did theme concerts, all outside the then mafia-like hold the Industry had on music at the time. That seemed like something you could never do, but he and David M did it anyway.
So, frankly my life has been a sad case of following Paul, years behind. Despite that I still find him a lovely man even if he’s still miles better at the guitar then I’ll ever be. Last year he sent me a Polly cd, which was of course brilliant, and made me just as jealous as I’d been 40 years ago when I heard him play.
At this point all I can think to do is get him in a band with me.
In late 2012, knowing what a huge Bowie fan I am, Nick Jones suggested that I listen to Paul Leahy’s new album ALL MESSED UP by Polly. I managed to get a copy from Richard Chapman at the Pointed Sticks show a few days later and the album quickly became my 2012 album of the year. I reached out to Paul on Facebook and we became “friends”.
I went to see Polly at LanaLous a couple weeks later and Paul introduced himself to me as he recognized me from my FB profile. He thanked me for the kind words in reviewing his album and thanked me for the support and coming to the show. Every time I subsequently saw Polly, Paul took the time to say hello and thanked me for coming. He is always so humble and so gracious. A wonderful talent, a great musician, a superb entertainer, but most importantly a lovely human being.
Love on ya Paul!
My First impression of Paul's singing l thought he was from England . After talking to him in person he told me he was from Surrey... Sounded Like a British Rocker to me Which l thought was so cool.
Of course I loved them, and wondered who this brilliant musician was. I then did my research, realizing he had previously played with David and Penny in No Fun.
When I first saw Paul at the Heritage Grill in New West, he sang Life on Mars, which is one of my most favourite Bowie songs. Paul not only has the perfect voice for that song, but the legs and tight pants. The ball cap. Something so out there and glam and so perfect. He lived and breathed the glam Polly persona, but you could tell that he was a very private introverted person at heart.
I next saw him play on a bill with Eddie D, who played way too long a set at Lanalous, leaving Polly barely 20 minutes before midnight. They gave it their all, but it was so heartbreaking as a musician and performer to see someone like Paul not given the time to do his thing. I tried a few times in the past year to play a show with The Judys and Polly, but it was not to be.
I first met Paul when he walked into my guitar repair shop in Surrey. He was there to have me look at his beloved Les Paul which he wanted to be put back to stock... But he also wanted it to look as close to Mic Ronson’s Les Paul. He was kind of a quiet guy and had a gentle humour and over a few visits got to like the atmosphere in the shop and with the customers that hung out there. When the guitar was finished and he came to pick it up, I finally got to hear his prowess on the guitar! This boy could rawk! All the guys in the shop were impressed and naturally we asked him if he would join us in our regular weekend jams.
His sound was amazing! He was channeling his hero Mic Ronson....and so much more. He had tone for days and to me , it was like he could sneak up on a note and then strangle it...add vibrato and it would sing so sweet... His love for all things Bowie and Ronson was quite clear...but he would give you killer Stones and Zeppelin and all the classic rock biggies. He could out play all of us and yet was so humble and fit in to any of the jams and not hog the leads...although we all wanted him to. He enjoyed hanging out in my shop and mentioned he wouldn’t mind working there so I said welcome aboard and started to have him doing setups on guitars from the suppliers.
Paul was very good at setting guitars up and adjusting the action , spending a lot of time to make sure that they were ready to play professionally. When he started to record his originals and would let me hear the studio takes before mastering, It occurred to me that he would have been huge in the 70s glam scene. He absolutely had it down pat and not only that..he played all the instruments...blew my mind, so talented.
I feel so lucky to have met such a great humble guy and awesome musician and good friend. I’m glad to have his music to remember the low slung, Les Paul guitar slinger with the killer touch and tone.
Love ya Paul
I admired him for sure. His choice of music his ability to play music. A very amazing artist. I so enjoy his world and his ways.
Don Vito Donatiello