(Originally published in the April 24, 2009 edition of The Community Press.)
Mild-mannered school teacher by day, mohawked Hong Kong rock star by night.
How did Paul MacLean go from piano lessons with Alice Cann at St. Anthony Elementary to playing the main stage in rock festivals in Asia and Europe?
After graduating from Glace Bay High School in 1995, MacLean got a Chemistry degree at Dalhousie University in Halifax and then took the education program at the University of Maine at Fort Kent. After several teaching stints, he took a position in Penticton, British Columbia.
“A group of friends from university went a bit further west and moved to Hong Kong,” MacLean said. “We kept in touch, and after a while they basically convinced me that Hong Kong was the place to be. They sweetened the deal by saying that you could hop on a plane during the weekends and within an hour or so, be on some of the most beautiful beaches that I’d ever see.
“After finishing up the year teaching in B.C. (at a school which was about three doors down from the infamous pig farm), I packed up and moved over to Hong Kong.”
MacLean said he always had an interest in music and had been in the Glace Bay High School band and was part of a rock band during his time in high school.
“I started jamming at a friend’s barn and ended up playing with some of the best musicians in town at that time … like Chris Miller, Cordell Skinner, Elliot McDonald, Wayne MacKenzie, Billy Bates and the infamous Soggy,” MacLean said.
MacLean and several others went to form a band and performed in the high school talent show.
He recalls that his first paying gig came when popular local bar band Bandit asked him to sit in on drums for a show on Commercial Street across from Tim Horton’s.
“All I can remember from that show was sitting behind the drums for the first song – Walk of Life by Dire Straits – looking the singer right in the eye with total confidence, giving him the nod that I was ready, and when the song began, it became the absolute worst cover of a Dire Straits song ever,” MacLean said, laughing.
After arriving in Hong Kong, MacLean became the drummer for a successful band called The Academy.
“The band lasted for about three or four years,” he said. “We ended up releasing an EP, doing some short tours around Asia and even got a chance to be in a Sony TV commercial.”
When The Academy broke up, MacLean and another band member, bass player Dave Wong, formed the two-piece band known simply as “DP.”
“We were both into the same kind of tunes (Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Queens of the Stone Age) but we were really into this one band called Death From Above 1979,” MacLean said. “They were a bass and drum duo out of Toronto – we really dug their sound and thought that their groove was the direction that we wanted to go into.”
Shortly after DP was formed in 2007, the band was invited to play a prestigious industry showcase event called Music Matters, and played to packed shows in Hong Kong clubs such as yumla, Fringe Club, Grappa’s Cellar, Backstage Live and the Pier Pressure shows at the Lamma ferry terminal.
In January 2008, DP played in front of thousands at Hong Kong’s Clockenflap Multimedia Arts & Music Festival, and played alongside Canadian rockers You Say Party! We Say Die! during that band’s tour of Asia.
MacLean and Wong then toured the United Kingdom last summer, with stops in London, Brighton and Oxford, where they played at the Truck Festival outdoors in front of a crowd of 5,000 people.
While in England, DP also spent some time in the recording studio.
“Our manager booked a few days of recording time up in an old stone country cottage house in the hills of Stroud,” MacLean said. “It was a three-floor residential studio with the recording studio being in the basement.”
The duo continued to record in Hong Kong and MacLean said the album – with the working title Songs of Man and Beast – is nearing completion and may be released by the fall.
“We’re currently working with a producer down in Perth, Australia,” he said. “We still have a bit of mixing and recording left to do here, but basically the album’s finished. We’re not trying to carve a deadline in stone or anything, but if all goes as planned, we should be looking at a release after the summer.”
And as for that mohawk?
“The school that I was working for was doing a fundraiser for a local charity called the Hong Kong Community Chest,” MacLean said. “It’s a great organization that collects money and distributes it to people in need in Hong Kong that need it most.”
To raise funds for the group, MacLean got his hair cut into a mohawk in front of 1,000 kids at his school by a real-life Edward Scissorhands – a Hong Kong hair stylist who cuts hair using seven sets of scissors at the same time.
“All in all, I came out with my two ears unscathed, so I was happy,” said MacLean.
DP can be found online at http://www.myspace.com/dpmetalheads