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'Do people have lovers because they are bad?'
When he was younger, he played support act to U2 and Echo & The Bunnymen. But then the ambitions of a working-class boy took over and Peter Corijn went off to live life in the corporate world. Years later, when he was vice-president at a big MNC and had made enough money, Corjin decided to revisit his old passion.
A chance encounter with a talent scout who discovered alt rock sensations Artic Money gave Corijn the confidence and push he needed. One thing led to another, and Corijn, having re-christened himself Paul Numi, released his debut album Where Am I? earlier this year.
Ask him what made him release an album at the age of 50, and Corijn, who divides his time between his Geneva office and his studio, says, "The day I realised that I was writing better songs, I decided to release an album. I have always loved music and I had been performing all through my youth, but to be brutally honest, I was willing to leave music behind to make a career for myself and earn some money. And I'm glad I got to do that. I travelled the world, I made some money for my family and I met some amazing people, including those I met on a trip to India in 1985 when I had a budget of $7 a day to live on. "
Many saw the music as a sign of a mid-life crisis and someone even suggested buying a Harley Davidson to work out the restlessness. "But this wasn't a mid-life crisis. It just took me a long time to become a decent songwriter. Keith Richards is still touring the world. So why can't I release an album now?" Numi asks.
Very Beatles-que in its arrangements and lyrics, Where Am I? is clearly inspired by the British acts that the Flemish Corijn has come to love over the years. "I loved bands with great song-writing like The Smiths, something like The Beatles' Norwegian Wood where John Lennon sings, I once had a girl or should I say, she once had me, " he says. "That's the kind of stuff I love. Bands like JAM, Police, Oasis, Bloc Party. That's what I want to do, write good songs and make good songs. "
The album, produced by John Woolloff (ace guitarist of French stars Bruel, Balavoine, Johnny) and mastered by the legendary Ted Jensen (Coldplay, Keane) has 10 songs that explore the angst and doubts of Corijn's life. As the lyrics from Road to nowhere go, As I enter the grey of the twilight zone My body feels heavy as stone I wear concrete shoes In the end we are the path we choose Life never fails to collect its dues I just followed In Naomi's got a thing, he talks of the loneliness and regret that relationships sometimes bring with it. Do people have lovers because they are bad? Or is it the only way to stay good and not feel sad? At the crossroads of our dreams and who we are The would have, could have, should have beens "As Paul Numi, I made the decision to be authentic. I'm not 18 and I'm not from the ghetto so I was going to be just myself, " Corijn explained. "Everything you write might not be true but your feelings could still be real. "
An extension of who he is also extends to his persona on stage. Not for him the casual fatigues of tees and jeans. Instead Corijn dresses up in "mod suits", with Boss suits and Borrelli ties. "I just really love the style, " he laughs.
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