What started out as a joke turned into the formation of a band with four men who all share the same name.
The Paul O’Sullivan Band came to life when Paul O’Sullivan, 33, of Eldersburg, indiscriminately sent Facebook friend requests to anyone named Paul O’Sullivan just to see how many people he could find that shared the same name. Most of them accepted his requests, he said, and he noticed a few of them were also musically inclined.
He found three other Paul O’Sullivans who each played a different instrument and reached out to gather more information about their musical talents.
“It was almost like the universe was daring me to make a band out of this,” O’Sullivan said. “So, we did that. It turns out that we had a really good rapport with one another, not just personality-wise, but music-wise.”
Since the bandmates have the same name, they refer to one another by their geographical locations to make communication easier.
O’Sullivan, or Baltimore Paul, is the band’s frontrunner and rhythm guitarist. He is joined by Paul O’Sullivan, 57, of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Paul O’Sullivan, 57, of Manchester, United Kingdom, and Paul O’Sullivan, 57, of Weatherly, Pennsylvania.
Baltimore Paul, 33, was born in Baltimore and raised in Carroll County. He graduated from Century High School in 2005 and received a degree in Communication from McDaniel College in 2009. He worked as a guitar instructor at JAMS Music in Eldersburg for many years, which is now home to Limelight Music Store.
He performed in a band called Woodbine Hotline that played at the local and regional level from 2006 to 2018 and served as a guest judge at Liberty High School’s annual Rock for Liberty, a Battle of the Bands-style competition, from 2011 to 2017 prior to being named head judge in 2017.
“I’ve been very big in the music scene in the area and have met a lot of kids, not only from teaching lessons but also with different bands that we’ve played with over the years,” Baltimore Paul said. “Music is very much a big part of my life.”
Rotterdam Paul is a grief counselor and is the band’s guitarist and backup singer who helps Baltimore Paul with a majority of the songwriting. Baltimore Paul compared their working relationship to that of Elton John and his longtime friend and fellow collaborator, Bernie Taupin.
“He’s the most creative one in the band,” Baltimore Paul said. “He can come up with song ideas on the fly. … When we collaborate, it’s very back-and-forth … we’re on the same wavelength and we never step on each other’s toes.”
The band released their first song “Namesake” in March 2016 and the song is available on all major streaming platforms. Rotterdam Paul wrote the song’s chorus and bridge and Baltimore Paul crafted the intro and verse.
Due to the remote nature of the group’s collaborative process, the song was pieced together at at a professional recording studio by Grammy-nominated engineer/producer Eric Taft at the Buzzlounge Recording Studio in Beltsville.
Manchester Paul was the first to officially join the band as its bass guitar player, Baltimore Paul said. He is a public health worker and adjunct professor who has been playing guitar, bass, and some other wind instruments since he was 10 years old. He joined bands and performed gigs around Europe regularly when he was 17, specializing in various genres from rock to jazz, soul, funk, and world music.
Remote recording has its own magic, Manchester Paul said, and he has always enjoyed remote sessions with artists who live a distance away, or abroad.
"Of course, it’s never the same as the ‘buzz’ one feels in the studio working in real time ... " Manchester Paul said. "Baltimore Paul is such a great guy, and talented musician and songwriter, who always sends me everything I need to get the tracks recorded, such as tabs, music files and ideas as to the feel and style he’s looking for.
"It’s relatively easy to get the job done, and lots of fun of course.”
“It’s cohesive in the way that we write songs because it’s like an assembly line,” Baltimore Paul said. “At the get-go, me and Rotterdam Paul kind of build the skeleton of the song and once we have that, we kick it over to Manchester Paul … he comes back with these crazy bass lines and stuff.
“It’s really a nice cherry on top of the songs.”
Weatherly Paul was the final bandmate to join and previously lived in San Diego before moving to the small Pennsylvania borough south of Wilkes-Barre. He is a public relations professional who works as an art and antiques dealer and is the band’s percussionist and emcee.
Baltimore Paul and Weatherly Paul met one another for the first time in September and, ironically, the men were wearing similar outfits.
Carroll County Breaking News
“What’s so interesting about this is that everybody plays a different instrument,” Baltimore Paul said. “We’re all complementary and it was almost like serendipity the way it all came together.”
The Paul O’Sullivan Band released the music video for “Namesake” in February and Baltimore Paul said the video received about 20,000 views in two weeks. The music video, which had over 36,900 views as of Friday, follows the group’s journey to formation.
The group signed a licensing deal with New York City video-based entity T&T Creative in March when the coronavirus pandemic began to unravel across the country. They decided to record an extended play (EP) album of cover songs such as “Toto” by Africa, “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepson, and “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X.
All four bandmates have yet to record together in person, and Baltimore Paul said getting everyone together is certainly the goal, but the coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult to do so. They officially terminated their contract with T&T Creative in March in order to pursue discussions with traditional record labels and have written 24 original songs, all recorded in a virtual setting.
“I think our band is almost like the International Space Station of the music industry,” Baltimore Paul said. “All these different nations are represented but we all have one goal in mind.”
Manchester Paul said the most enjoyable part about playing in the Paul O’Sullivan band is how much the bandmates share, both as musicians and as friends.
“It’s a lovely way to keep in touch with like-minded friends and musicians with whom I share so many things in common over and above the same name,” Manchester Paul said. “And, make great music together.”