1951 (age 72)
Three Hills, Kneehill County, Alberta, Canada
Born in Three Hills, Alberta, Paul Janz moved to Switzerland with his family when only four years old. The son of a Mennonite Minister, his earliest musical influences were naturally gospel and choir. By age ten he was an established singer in the church choir and was already dabbling in writing gospel arrangements. His first instrument was the trumpet and by age 13 was performing with the local chapter of The Salvation Army. By the time he was out of high school, he'd also taught himself to play guitar and drums. By then he was also studying opera with the Basel Conservatory of Music, which led to conducting and arranging assignments with the Basel Symphony.
He started his first group while still at the Conservatory, called Deliverance. A mix of his gospel-music upbringing with his passion for roots rock such as Elvis and Perkins, the band recorded three albums over the course of 10 years, topping the charts in Germany and reaching #56 on Billboard with 1979's "Leaving LA". Amid financial difficulties, Janz left the group and returned to Canada the next year. He found work doing various projects for commercials and enrolled in Simon Fraser University in '81 to study philosophy. With his passion in life still music, and still determined to make it in the business, he found time to record some demos, playing all the instruments himself. The demos caught the attention of several major labels, and signed to A & M in '84.
His first solo album was a Candian-only release, HIGH STRUNG. It's debut came in mid '85 and was met with critical praise. With production assistance from Lindsay Kidd, it featured cameos from Jim Vallance, Tom Colclough and Robbie King, and no less than four singles were released. The success of "Don't Cry Tonight", "Close My Eyes" and the title track shot the album up the charts. But it was the smash "Go To Pieces", with it's driving rhythms and mixing that showed off Janz's emerging productions skills and truly propelled him, helping earn the songwriter a Juno Award for most promising male vocalist . Recognizing the performer's immense talent, Michael Godin left his post as vice president of A & M Canada to become Janz's manager before the new year.
The bulk of the next album was recorded at Godin's Vancouver studio over the next year. Now with a deal with A&M's division in the US, ELECTRICITY hit the stores in the summer of '87 and again was met with instant critical praise. Produced by Janz with helping hands from the likes of Bob Rock and Mike Fraser in the mixing and featuring the lyrics of Pamela Phillips Oland, the album quickly gained Janz recognition as one of the country's finest new songwriters, as emphasized in the first single "One Night Is All It Takes". As well, "Go To Pieces", the smash single from his debut, was remixed and found it's way onto ELECTRICITY. The driving rhythms and complex mixing of the album showed off Janz's emerging production skills. His gospel roots were also made evident when The Sperling School Choir were brought in to highlight the moving "Believe In Me", the album's last single, which was dedicated to Janz's four kids. Other noteable tracks included "Send Me A Miracle", "Alien", both co-written by his wife, the melodic "Angel" and "I Won't Cry".
RENEGADE ROMANTIC was released in 1990 amidst much anticipation from the critics as well as the public. With Bill Drescher co-producing, most noteable for his work with Rick Springfield and The Bangles, the record" showed a growing maturity in his songwriting. The lead-off single "Every Little Tear" quickly shot up the charts, followed by the raucous "Rocket To My Heart". The added attention earned Janz an opening slot with Melissa Etheridge in his first national tour. The moving "Stand" was the third single, hitting the top 40 in both Canada and the US, followed by the ballad "Hold Me Tender", showing a definite sensitive side to him.
Despite the relative success of the album, Janz was still somehow managing to not live up to A&M's expectations, dropping him from the label at the end of the year. Now without a deal, he spent the next couple of years writing new material in his own BC studio and judging the business from a distance. He was picked up by Attic Records in '92, but before their first collaberation, A&M released PRESENCE, a greatest hits package, to capitalize on his past laurels. Janz's first record for Attic came out shortly thereafter when TRUST hit the stands. Inspired in part by his time spent doing joint missionary work with MuchMusic, the album seemed to contain a new 'awareness' to his music, with a direction less geared to 'pop radio'. The new single "Wind Me Up" gave him exposure on the newly-reforming adult contemporary radio audience, as did "Amazon Rain" and "Call My Personal Angel". But not really sure what to do with Janz and his evidently changing styles, he again found himself without a major deal the very next year.
Paul Janz is currently not recording new material, and seems to have pretty much dropped out of the scene all together. Never making a name for himself touring the world like some others, his reputation came from a deep sense of involvement in his work, writing some of Canada's most complex and diverse material. Always a perfectionist of his craft, Janz has always sat in the control seat. His records have always been spawned from his love of many different types of music, containing thought-provoking lyrics and complex instrument dubs, demonstrating why he's been referred to as one of Canada's best songwriters and most under-rated musicians.
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