Q&A - Paul Garred (The Quentin Dentin Show)

Paul Garred may be best known as a founding member of The Kooks, who rose to prominence in the mid-2000s with hits like She Moves in Her Own Way and You Don't Love Me.

Having departed the band in 2012, Garred is following his passion for music in an entirely different direction by working alongside book writer, composer and lyricist Henry Carpenter to produce the self-titled debut album of Quentin Dentin, the intergalactic star of musical The Quentin Dentin Show.

Paul Garred by Luke Freeman
Were you always a musical theatre fan?
I grew up in a family who loved musicals. Specifically my father and sister would watch the 10th Anniversary of Les Miserables, or the film version of Evita on video once a week. We would all go to see touring productions and occasionally, if money wasn’t too tight, a show in the West End.
Speaking of Evita, we went as a family to see Marti Webb perform the leading role in 1995 at the Congress Theatre in Eastbourne. The show had a profound effect on me, leading me to consider a future in the industry at some point of my life. I’m more of a fan of the filmic nature of musicals like Miss Saigon, The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables, which leads me to believe that I must be more of a fan of modern opera. Henry Carpenter and I visit the Royal Opera House regularly to sit back, learn from, and appreciate the sheer brilliance of some of the world’s finest compositions.
I’ve been very lucky to have fulfilled one dream of being in a band and touring the world, but few I’m sure would realise that I originally wanted to be an actor. Once I became a songwriter, musical theatre seemed like the perfect future for me to fuse the two worlds together.
How did you get involved with producing the The Quentin Dentin Show album?
I have been working with Henry Carpenter for about 4 years now as a writing duo specifically in musical theatre. We met on a course where we began fusing our similar understandings of story, scale and immediacy.

Henry had already begun his personal journey of writing The Quentin Dentin Show around the time of us meeting each other, so by the time the production had completed its third off West End run, of which I saw all progressive iterations, it seemed logical that I would get on board in one way or another in the future.

My background in composition, lyrics and music production, plus an opinion on how to improve the existing structure of the show for a wider audience on the album, and in future productions, left Henry and producer Hannah Elsy to come to the conclusion of hiring me to polish, re-imagine and deliver the album that exists today.

What has been changed or altered since the musical's previous on-stage iteration?
I wanted to get rid of the notion that we were merely replicating the show and recording what was already there before. The Quentin Dentin Show of the previous iterations had a mild story arc, but I felt it better to present the elements that pleased me most on my visits to see the show, which was the tunes, the energy, and the mayhem.

I’ve stuck closely to the template of my old producer for The Kooks first three records - Tony Hoffer, who was always searching for the biggest weakness in a tune he was presented with.
For instance, it was obvious to me the most of the material was performed too slowly, and that tempo was a key component to the music of the New Wave of the late 1970s and early 1980s, for which the show leans on stylistically. The title track had a drum beat that didn’t pump with the bass line, so I re-wrote the drum part and sped the track up considerably.
In another tune called Life, Henry had written a suite of three moments joined together with an instrumental part in-between. I suggested a chorus hook which stuck, and we both approved of, improving what was a slightly disjointed composition into more of a pop presentation.

There are many examples of changes - big and small across the board, but I think I would be taking too much time from your readers to explain the minutia.

The other key area for me was scale. I wanted this album to reflect the future of the production, and not the past.

Do you have a favourite song or moment on the album?
I’ve always been a fan of the tune Take Your Medicine. Whilst it encompasses the key message of the show - which is mental health, it delivers it in the most unusual way. I had a lot of fun playing with the middle section where the brain machine is sucking humans’ minds apart, lobotomising them in the process.

Quentin’s mission is ‘to make humanity happy….or kill them trying’. What do you think is the secret to making humanity happy?
I think that the meaning of life is love and balance. The word ‘happy’ is an interesting pursuit. Some of my happiest moments are the simplest, and conversely, some of my unhappiest moments may appear to look great on the outside to others.

I applaud Henry’s vision to play with the idea of what this show’s true meaning is, against the way it is delivered. The audience can take the serious subtext, or leave it and just have a fun evening.
We live in a world where social media is crippling the idea of being happy in yourself, and who you are. We now seem to stretch too far to find our happiness a million miles away. The true social media successes are performed as a business, such as the Kardashian family.

The Quentin Dentin Show has been described in reviews as ‘the future of musical theatre’. What does that future look like to you?
Henry and I regularly discuss the future of the show. We have some exciting ideas to improve and re-landscape, including new songs.

In regards to musical theatre in general, I can only echo my directing hero Hal Prince, who believes that as long as writers think outside the box and are daring with their material, audiences will reap the rewards.

Henry and I hope to be part of that new movement.

Why should people buy this album?
This album is fun. It’s not a record that needs to be taken too seriously, however the message underneath the mayhem is strong. It’s short, like a punk album, and we are hoping that it will leave the audience with a taste for the future of the production.