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Paul Turk Henry & Music Band Hobbit

Interviewed by Fethiye TUZER

Paul èTurkî Henry is the bass and singer of the famous U.S. music band, Hobbit. Paul was born in Ankara, and spent his first 15 years in Turkey. Although now living in Texas, he has kept a deep affection for the country of his childhood. Hobbit is a group that started in 1977 when èTurkî (Bass/Vocals) and Gene Fields (Vocals/R.Guitar) joined with a drummer (now Rusty Honeycutt) and Richard Hill (L.Guitar/Keyboards) to combine rock-n-roll influences, and the powerful attraction to J.R.R. Tolkiens¹s Middle Earth, leading the way to a style called Fantasy Rock. They have issued several records including Two Feet Tall. Then have followed songs like èLove Is Forever,î èTake Me Tonight,î èNeed Your Love,î and è¹Til I Get You Backî. Although they have never lost the fantasy side of their roots, as seen in èMidyear¹s Eve,î èIntensity,î and èUp And Down,î they have a variety of musical styles that should provide something for everyone. Hobbit¹s Rockin¹ the Shire, which contains the bulk of the èFantasy/Tolkienî oriented songs like èJoin The Celebration,î is their last release of end 2001 and was hailed as the Disc of the Year by one music critic who praised the scorching vocals and the most incredible bass work of Paul.

_ Paul, you carry the name of "Turk". Can you explain why you continue to do it through the years?
Paul èTurkî ê èI guess I need to start at the beginning? But first, let me say merhaba, cok memnun oldum, ve cok tesekk…r ederim for this interview! OK, I was born in Ankara, was raised in both Ankara and Izmir and spoke Turkish before I even knew what English was! Coming to the U.S., I found that Americans are very fond of nicknames for their musicians, athletes, etc. So when my first friend in college found out where I was from, he gave me the nickname ¨Turk¹. It stuck, fit perfectly with being a musician, stayed with me through Hobbit and LIX, and I am still called that now! I have known people for 25 years, who to this day, still don't know my real name...just that I'm ¨Turk¹! And to this day, I still like it very much!î

_ How long did you live in Turkey? What are your memories about this country?
èTurkî ê èAll together, T…rkiye¹de on beş sene (15 years) kaldım. For me, the greatest memories are of the people! I can honestly say in all those 15 years, I never met a Turk I couldn¹t or didn¹t get along with. And I can¹t even begin to count how many have taken me (with or without family or friends) into their homes for cay, a plate of food, or just for talking. Of course, they like you even more if you can speak the language! After the people, it has to be the food...the best in the world! Also, the country is just plain beautiful with endless beaches and countless archaeological sites and histories.î

_ Are your memories of Turkey impacting your music? If yes, how? If not, do you have any knowledge of the last Turkish musical developments? i.e. Tarkan [Turkish singer living in NYC]?
èTurkî ê èDefinitely! Growing up in a different world and society absolutely affected the imagination and opened the mind for creative processes, or fantasy as we call it. In fact, you will hear some Mid-Eastern undertones in a few of the songs we are writing now. L…tfen, forgive me, I am not familiar with Tarkan, but I do remember Zeki M…ren very well, being at the time[1] , the biggest star in Turkey! Did I just give away my age? Ha ha.î

_ What do you think about the awareness of the US public opinion about Turkey?
_ èTurkî ê èAsk any ¨educated¹ American this question: Of all the (majority population) Muslim countries in the world, which is the only one the U.S. can truly call a friend? I think the only, unanimous, answer you would get is Turkey! And since I will always consider Turkey my true ¨homeland,¹ this makes me very happy, indeed! Of course, I've been a pretty good spokesperson in all my years in America!î

_ How would you qualify the present music scene in today's U.S. and the role of the Academy Music Awards? What are, according to you, the relations with the music scene abroad?
èTurkî ê èPersonally, I¹m not very happy with music as a whole in the U.S. today. Most of it is just not melodic, artistic, or vocally pleasing enough for my taste. Don¹t get me wrong, there are some good groups, like Creed for instance, and you know, music is relevant only to the happy ¨ears of the beholder,¹ no matter what it is or sounds like to the rest of us. I do like almost all of the female artists, like Alanis M. and Sheryl C. The Academy Music Awards have become way too ¨political¹ over the years to me, and I haven¹t watched it in many, many years! With the wonderful invention of the internet and ease in trade policies, I would have to say that this is probably the easiest and best time to be involved in the music field, especially for Independent (un-signed) bands like Hobbit and LIX!î

_ Your earlier music reminded me Jethro Tull. Yes, at your beginning. Do you think there is a meaningful change since your first works? What kind of change would it be?
_ èTurkî ê èYes, there is a meaningful change, but only in the maturity of the songwriting. Those are still some of our favorite bands and the influences are still with us. We¹re just older, wiser, and better writers today. Also, since the recent reforming of Hobbit, and (lucky for us) the release of the Lord Of The Rings movie, combined with those influences, past and present song-writing much more fun! We are presently working on a Tolkien-LOTR Concept CD which we've been dreaming about for a quarter century!î

_ Would you enjoy coming to Turkey to perform your music? According to you, what would be the best way to promote a musical co-operation and understanding between Turkey and the U.S.?
èTurkî ê èNothing would make me happier than to play in Turkey! Most bands look for a concert at Madison Square Garden, N.Y.C. as the ¨ultimate goal for rock-n-roll,¹ but playing in Turkey would be my personal ¨ultimate gig¹!

èWell, what you and I are doing right here is a great step for Turkish/American relations! Then getting the word out in the Turkish websites, getting the music played on the radio, and lastly, making it easier for groups to come to Turkey to play! I remember how much the Turkish people loved music back then and the dancing we all did in the nightclubs to groups like Chicago, Deep Purple, and many other European and American bands. So, I'm sure Turkey is still hungry for all kinds of music. Of course, it's always nice to have a èTurkî in the band!

èAnd finally... Õok, Õok b…y…k Selam to all my friends in and out of Turkey; Anneme Maria, ağabeyime, John, Õok sevgiler, en sevgili arkadaslarima, Niko, Kimon, Eli, Sofia, and Irini and....yine, Õok Õok teşekk…r ederim, Madame Fethiye, hayirli isler, ve g›r…s…r…z inşallah! ‘ok Sevgiler, Rock on Pol èTurk¹.î

Thank you very much for your interview and I hope that you will be able to realize your wishes and perform your music in Turkey to make it known to the young Turkish folks. Fethiye Tuzer.

(1st Age...L-->R..Rusty, Richard, Gene, 'Turk')

(1st Age..6 Flags)

(1st Age..Agora Ballroom)

(1st Age..East Texas Fair..The Reason..Thank You!)

(2nd Age...L-->R..Richard, 'Turk', Gene)


Paul Turk means the 70s.

More information on Hobbit and their CDs, including the one LIX CD, is accessible to anyone anywhere in the world on the following Internet websites:  
http://www.cdbaby.com/hobbit, http://www.cdbaby.com/lix;    http://www.nightmarerecords.com; http://www.cdstreet.com/hobbit;
http://www.cdstreet.com/lixrocks  .

All ye folk are invited to join Hobbit at The Hobbit Hole home-page --(Entertainment Weekly grade for this web-site..."A"!): http://www.hobbitcd.com  ...For Fellowship, some scones, Barliman's famous ale, and Longbottom leaf afterwards! And/or if you are in more of a hard rock mood, please visit: http://www.geocities.com/lixrocks

© Fethiye Tuzer, Friday, April 26, 2002

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