Rolling Out

Bobby Brown’s new group, Paul Campbell, making organic R&B

Photo: Steven Littles

Veteran “Bad Boy of R&B,” Bobby Brown has delivered a string of chart-topping hit singles, as both a member of his supergroup New Edition, as well as on his own as a revered soloist. His latest contribution is Paul Campbell, comprised of singers Tim Campbell and Terrill Paul, an act that Brown recently unleashed through his newest venture, Brown Ribbon Entertainment.

Please introduce the members of Paul Campbell. And how did the two of you even come together to form the group?
Tim Campbell: We started singing background for Heads of State. They had picked two people, Ryan Toby and Tim (Campbell). Terrill (Paul) ended up bumping into Bobby on the way out and exchanged words. Bob had him audition again and he made the cut. Bob made mention years ago that he was going to have us be a singing group. Years later sticking to his word, here we are, Paul Campbell.

Terrill Paul: We were Bobby Brown’s background singers, and he decided to put us in a group together.

Growing up, who did/do you consider to be your strongest musical influences?
TC: Gospel singer John P. Kee, Brian McKnight, Marvin Gaye, Take 6, Boyz ll Men because I went to sleep listening them every night.

TP: Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Bobby Brown, Michael Jackson (and) Boyz II Men.

That said, how would you describe or define the style of music that you create and perform?
TC: Refreshing, organic, familiar feeling with today’s swag. No sampled lyrics, nor music, or lines. In fact, we don’t write lyrics down because we like for it to flow from within. With that being said, we want the world to feel the love that was in the room while creating this album. Real harmonies, live singing and high energy. It just feels so surreal to finally be able to come from out of the background and release what’s been bottled up for years. We’ve  ghost written, collaborated and helped vocal produce some of your industry favorites. We feel so humbled and fortunate to have our big brother B. Brown give us that shot to express our passion with everyone and he will not be let down.

TP: We bring a great deal of the ’90’s into today’s style of music.

In having said that, where did your moniker originally derive from?
TC: Well, Rell had just went back to Colorado and we were in the kitchen at Bob and Alicia’s on a conference call about how we were going to move. Bob says, “Terrill and Tim, Tim and Terrill? Nah, those don’t roll off right.” He hangs down his head for about three minutes straight, no lie. Popped up and slammed the counter then says, “Terrill Paul, and Timothy Campbell, *Paul Campbell” There it was and there it is.

TP: Bobby Brown came up with our name. My last name is Paul and Tim’s last name is Campbell.

What particular string of events led to you all linking up with Bobby Brown and ultimately becoming members of Brown Ribbon Entertainment?
TC: We would talk to B. on the regular just staying in contact, etcetera. So while he was on the most recent N.E. tour, he called me during a little vacation with my family in Orlando and said, “I want you and Rell to swap out songs and start vibin’ because I am gonna fly Rell into L.A. and y’all are getting ready to record. It’s time now. I’m tired lil bro. Time for y’all to do y’all thing now and I got cha back.” Contracts came, we signed them and boom!

TP: Actually, I was auditioning for the group Heads of State and was let go by the other two members; Ralph Tresvant and Johnny Gill. On my way out, I ran into the ‘King’ himself! Bobby looked at me and asked me who I was. I told him I was there for an audition, but that I was let go by Johnny and Ralph. But, Bobby still wanted to hear my voice. So, he asked me to return the next day to rehearsal. After the rehearsal, the rest is history.

How much actual input or involvement does the self-proclaimed “Brown Bomber” have when it comes to the overall hands-on experience with your music?
TC: He really lets us do our thing for the most part. He lets P.C. have free range, which is a great look because most labels and executives are opposite. He didn’t come to the studio with us not one time while recording our album, and we deliver a masterpiece. When things might look cloudy, or doesn’t look like it’s going to help us, he then steps in and get us right. That’s our big brother. He loves us and truly has our best interest at heart. He know we love him the same. True, genuine friendship and brotherhood.

TP: He is definitely a great presence. He doesn’t overshadow us. He allows us to be who we are. But at the end of the day, he is the ‘King,’ so he does have the final say so.

And, has Bobby Brown given you any helpful advice, since he has been in the music business for nearly 35 years?
TC: So many life lessons. We soak up as much as we can. He continuously drops jewels and wants to position us to truly win so we all can provide  for our families. It’s funny because some say a lot and give their opinions on how we should be moving…But we tell them quickly, “Keep in mind who our big brother is and know that he knows what he is doing. Just trust and believe it.”

TP: Yes. Stay consistent, stay in their faces … and bash! Bash means: whip they a– on stage!

This past summer you dropped your first single, “No Let Up.” How did it actually come to fruition?
TC: We went to the studio with producer Wow Jones in North Hollywood, California, and had like a 3 hour discussion just about life, building and getting to know one another. Then it was magic from there. Wow went to the keyboard and just started hitting those chords, Rell came up with the first line, he passed the baton and we drove and locked in the hook. From there, we vibed out the rest with songwriter/singer Jimi James…We wanted something grown, sexy, fresh, new and real! Think we hit our mark, and, yes, we think our ladies want the makeup messed up, want their hair grabbed sometimes. So in addition to that, there’s No Let Up. We are not gonna let up and we are bringing tallness back to R&B.

TP: Well, the song “No Let Up” was produced by Wow Jones and written by Terrill Paul, Tim Campbell and Jimi James. We knew that we needed to have something that was very catchy from the opening of the record.

… It was a track that when Wow Jones started to create it, something struck me and I came up with the opening line, “I think it’s time to f*ck up all your makeup.” Then, Tim Campbell and Jimi James followed suit … and the rest is history.

When can listeners expect some new music from you all? Like maybe that official debut album?
TC: Well, we are just getting set to release our first single and video. The album is complete. We are going (to) maybe get a few features and maybe release a another single then the album. I’m guessing, but Brown Ribbon handle that for the most part…All systems go on this end, bad as they want it we are ready to give it to you. We have a mean solid squad though to that is the business.

TP: I would expect you guys to have it this fall.

As far as Paul Campbell goes, what specific role do each of you play when it comes to the overall sound/vibe?

TC: We both have our own unique flavor and style that come together and mesh very well

TP: We both the play the same amount of roles. We both put in 100%. There is no 50/50…we give 100% or nothing.

What do you feel you offer the music industry that we don’t already have in other performers?  
TC: Well, we sing live, we sing for real. It doesn’t sound  like anything out right now. No sampled punchlines, melodies, tracks, lyrics, etcetera. It’s fresh and very real. That is an element that we feel has been missing in music. Music has lost it’s originality and Paul Campbell is here to bring it back!

TP: A breath of fresh air…and you can dance again! We give you music that you can listen to from the beginning of the CD to the end.

Have you encountered any problems in getting to this point in your career?
TC: Wow, let me see … I remember sleeping in my car and showering at the gym every day. Clothes were in a storage unit. There were days I couldn’t eat at all. TV dinners and pot pies were my joints. … So many empty promises from so called friends and colleagues in the industry. I had my first development years and years ago with Elektra Records. It seemed like no one would open the door and give me a chance. That’s just a short version. But I remember watching The Trumpet Awards one night and I can’t recall the lady’s name but she said something powerful and that always stuck with me. She said, “All entrepreneurs, inspiring artists, whatever it is that you want to be? Remember this, ‘I will stand on a mountain of no’s to get one yes.’ ” I prayed this day would come and it showed up.

TP: Yeah … there were major stumbling blocks and major obstacles, just like anything else in life. Of course we’ve had our share of no’s. Just like, man, Marvin Sapp would say, “God and Bobby Brown saw the best in us, when no one else around us could see it.”

What do you all want people to get from your music? 
TC: We just want to make music feel good again. We want our music to be played 10 plus years later and it still be their jam. You know? Like “(My) Pererogative,” “Roni,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “End Of The Road,” “Poison.” Great music has no expiration date.

TP: To have fun again and enjoy music the way you should.

On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of R&B? 

TC: No, not at all.

TP: No.

Do you have any other outside/additional aspirations, maybe even completely away from music?

TP: I aspire to be on the movie screen. Not sure that is so far away from the music scene, but I desire to be there…and I will.

What has been your greatest achievement(s) so far? 
TC: Signing with Brown Ribbon Entertainment and singing live for Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Tony! Toni! Toné! in the same room…EPIC evening!

TP: Signing to Brown Ribbon Entertainment

If you all could collaborate with any one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why? 
TC: Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes for one, because I actually had the privilege to know her and she was such a sweetheart and she embraced me with open arms. Wish we had got to get it and record some records. The energy was amazing and sure it would’ve been super dope. Also, Missy Elliott. Honestly, from the start of my R&B singing career she has been and still is at the top of the list. She writes, produces and sings as well, and I love her originality and sound. She doesn’t switch up to fit in and I love her to the max, period.

TP: Donny Hathaway. I just feel that he had the soul that I believe I have inside of me. I love the way he attacked the music. So for me, it would be a great look for me to work with someone of that caliber.

If you all could play any venue in the world, which one would you choose and why?  
TC: The [BMO Harris] Bradley Center in Milwaukee because that’s where I am from and to perform at the biggest stadium in my hometown is going to mean so much. All my family, classmates, street homies, church people, everyone from the crib!

TP: Wembley Stadium in London, England, because it is one of the largest platforms in the world.

One track of yours that you think defines you and why?  
TC: “In My Mind.” It talks about how we may be far away in distance from a loved one, but we are always thinking of them. They are always in the front of our minds, but not physically there all the time. Really on the stage it hits even harder because we work for our families. It’s just a cool thing being able to do what we love. But, yeah, “In My Mind.”

TP: “No Let Up,” because we are not letting up on nobody. We’re coming in strong…we’re coming to be a force to be reckoned with.

Is there anything I left out, or just plain forgot to mention?  
TC: Oh, yeah, can’t forget to mention that I suffered  a near fatal car accident in 2006 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on I-95, but I am still here and so grateful. All praises due!

TP: Yes, I’m from Trenton, New Jersey.

Any closing thoughts?
TC: Thanks for all of your support, love, continued prayers, and positive vibes. Know that we will give our best, every-time! Remember, we are bringing tallness to R&B. That’s not just height neither. Sound, melodies, substance, live, the whole kit! Paul Campbell is the people’s group, and we love you all.

TP: Make sure that you go out and support Paul Campbell and our new self-proclaimed album No Let Up. You definitely won’t be disappointed.

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