Caitlin O’Kane – CBS News
Have you ever met someone with the exact name as you? Paul O’Sullivan from Baltimore, Maryland has — and his fellow Paul O’Sullivans ended up becoming good friends.
“One night, I was kind of just indiscriminately adding Paul O’Sullivans on Facebook and a good amount of them accepted my friend request,” O’Sullivan, who has become known as Baltimore Paul, told CBS News. “Eventually, their stuff started showing up in my news feed. And I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, we’re all musicians.’ You know, it kind of felt like the universe was daring me to do something with this serendipitous scenario.”
Baltimore Paul reached out to musical Paul O’Sullivans around the world. Eventually, three Pauls agreed to form a musical group with him, aptly named The Paul O’Sullivan Band. Manchester Paul is on bass, Pennsylvania Paul is on percussion and Baltimore Paul and Rotterdam Paul are on guitar and vocals.
“In this world, sometimes you think everything’s been done,” Manchester Paul, from the U.K, told CBS News during an interview with all four Paul O’Sullivans. “Particularly with the internet, everything’s been covered, everything’s been done. Well actually, this felt like a first. And it still feels like a first.”
The Pauls put out a single at the start of 2020. And when the world shut down due to COVID-19, they realized they had been working remotely together anyway, so they decided to use the lockdown to record a whole album.
“It feels great to be able to contact people on the other side of the world when you’re in lockdown because you don’t feel alone at the moment,” said Rotterdam Paul, who hails from the Netherlands city.
They wrote and recorded their album like an assembly line, Baltimore Paul said. He and Rotterdam Paul first wrote lyrics then sent ideas to Manchester Paul for final approval.
“I’m not a huge lyric writing guy, but within the first day of meeting, the next day he sent me an entire Microsoft Word page of song lyrics,” Baltimore Paul said about Rotterdam Paul. “And I was just like, man, this might be the beginning of a really cool Lennon-McCartney partnership, if you will.”
When Pennsylvania Paul asked which one is the Paul McCartney and which one is the John Lennon, Baltimore Paul said it’s tricky, since they’re both named Paul.
For all four Pauls, music has always been an outlet — and it was more important than ever during 2020. “If you learn to play an instrument, it can help you through some dark times,” Manchester Paul said.
“I have always used music to help me get through the bad times, I always say. It just got you through the whole lockdown, I think. Actually, I think the lockdown went faster because I was doing this at the moment,” Rotterdam Paul added.
During a year when many things were put on pause, these four were able to stay connected and make something great. “Once COVID came, so many doors had shut on musicians,” Pennsylvania Paul said. “And [Baltimore] Paul opened up this door already, right? Then we had an extra purpose.”
“And I think for me, that gave me a lot of satisfaction, that I wasn’t locked out of everything. That in fact, we could accomplish things, despite the new adversity,” he continued. “Everybody said no, and Paul O’Sullivan Band said yes.”