“I was out of commission for a while. Now, I’m back.” After a brief bout with tendinitis, drummer Paul Campanella Jr. refers to his most recent job behind the kit with Delta Groove recording artist Sean Costello as a “triumphant return to the pocket.”
“Sean is amazing! He really understands the history and tradition of the Blues and he has chops and he is dripping with energetic soul. He brought me back to my roots.”
Raised on a steady diet of Classic Blues and Memphis/Motown Soul, Paul found his “pocket” early on. At the age of fifteen he began working steadily in his hometown of Buffalo, NY. “The first thing my dad did was to take me to see Stan Szelest (Ronnie Hawkins/The Band). That day changed my life. I’ll never forget it.” When the band took their first break, drummer Sandy Konnikoff (Joe Cocker) took Paul outside and and showed him the secrets of the two-handed shuffle on a patio table.
Paul spent his teens studying with the best in the WNY area. Mike Caputy, Sandy Konnikoff, Louie Marino, and Daniel Hull. “From Mike I got power and pocket. From Sandy, the shuffle. Louie gave me a work ethic and versatility, and Danny taught me how to swing with taste and tradition.” And although he never formally studied with him, L.A. session great Gary Mallaber always made time for Campanella when he was in town and stressed the importance of time and feel.
Of course Paul’s (and his dad’s) record collection taught him a thing or two. “I picked up a lot from listening to Jeff Porcaro and David Garibaldi. Garibaldi is proabably my biggest influence as far as r&b drumming goes. Actually, I’ve been fortunate to meet and talk with him on several occasions over the years. Al Jackson Jr., and Steve Jordan are two major groove players I have studied intensely. The pocket is where it’s at. That’s where I want to be all the time.”
After moving to New York City in 1998, Paul began writing pop songs. “I’m a sucker for a good pop tune. It’s a part of me that I can’t ignore.” A year later, he formed Evil Jake with Aaron Trubic and Mike Jacobs, guitarist of the famed NY pop supergroup The Pasties which featured Devon Copley (The Animators) and Sam Endicott (The Bravery). The group enjoyed a small amount of success for their album “Be My Ex-Girlfriend” produced by Adam Lasus (Gigolo Aunts, Juliana Hatfield) Paul contributed two songs to the album. Evil Jake reached a whopping 100,000+ downloads from MP3.com, a barrage of college airplay, a U.K. tour as well as a helpful plug from the Jack Black movie “School Of Rock”. The bands Arlene Grocery poster was a part of the set design.
In late 2003, Paul returned to Buffalo to record and hit the road again this time with Blues/Rock guitar slinger Tommy Z. “Universal Love” Tommy’s debut, was recorded by veteran rock producer Nick Blagona at Robbie Takac’s Chameleon West studios. After touring the world over with Tommy Z, Campanella set his sights on Las Vegas. “I wanted to get off the road for a while. My two daughters were just born and I really wanted to be home more for my family.”
In March of 2007 longtime friend and former Evil Jake bandmate Aaron Trubic called and asked Paul to play some dates with Sean Costello. “I knew who he was and I wanted to be involved immediately. Like I said, Sean brought me full circle, back to my roots. Back to the pocket.”
Paul’s versatility, perseverance, and supportive family have no doubt been the key to his success. Over the past 16 years, he has kept a full calendar clocking hundreds of hours playing live and recording with bands and artists ranging in styles from pop, rock, punk, and country, to zydeco, soul, r&b, funk, and of course, traditional blues. Paul has provided the backbeat for such blues luminaries as Eddie Burks, Nappy Brown, and now Sean Costello. Paul has also layed down drum tracks for promising young Las Vegas rocker Ian Shane Tyler’s debut album to be released later in 2008.
Paul uses Zildjian cymbals, Remo heads, and proudly endorses Silverfox drumsticks and Grover Pro Custom Drums.