Paul Valentino Interview
Prime Time

They bring in the crowds wherever they play. And what they play is everything from Big Band to Bruce

Springsteen, Chicago to Motown, Top 40 to 50's Rock 'n Roll. A musical diversity really that spans from the 1940's to today.

The seven guys that make up this band have really made a name for themselves in Central New York.

We are of course talking about Prime Time.

Recently we spoke with Prime Time vocalist Paul Valentino about the group.

Q - Paul, how did Prime Time come to be? Who put this band together?
A - Myself, and our trumpet player.

Q - Where did the idea come from?
A -We were part of another band.

Q - And, what was that band's name?
A - That band was called The Critics, and The Prime Time Horns.

Q - Would that be the same band The Critics that are out there now?
A - Yeah.

Q - Prime Time doesn't just perform in Syracuse. You perform all over the Northeast. Is that correct?
A - Well, I would say Upstate New York.

Q -That would include Rochester and Buffalo?
A - Yeah, and points east. And North and South. (Laughs).

Q - You bill Prime Time as the Ultimate Wedding Band. Tell me why that is?
A - Where did we say that?

Q - On your website?
A - I think most of what we promote us as is, the ultimate party band or the ultimate party and wedding band, basically because we're able to cross over, into doing weddings and private parties, but also when we play clubs we're able to totally change gears and provide that type of live show atmosphere for a club that's totally different from a wedding or a private party.

Q - And it's a lucrative offshoot of the regular bar band business, isn't it?
A - Yes.

Q - Isn't it a nightmare to coordinate rehearsals for seven guys with seven different schedules?
A - Its not easy. Everybody works. We tend to get on the same page. We find one common night a week when we can get together, and basically go through everything we need to go through on that one night. So, everybody knows it's kind of necessary to do that, not every week, but, we try to do it every week. We pick like a Wednesday night and everybody just clears that night off for rehearsal.

Q - How do you keep everybody happy in this band? Does everybody have a say in what material is going to be played?
A - That's difficult. I'm sure there's many songs we do either the guys are tired of or it's not their favorite type of music. We try to do enough variety. We're known for our variety of music that we play. I think we do enough variety that each guy is kind of kept happy as far as the music and the kind of styles they like to play. Basically because I run the rehearsals and do all the business part of the band and do most of the singing, I tend to bring a lot of music into the band and kind of as a democracy vote on what everybody wants to do, and take it from there. I tend to put most songs on tape and present it to the band and say how about this? What do you feel about this? And then, a couple of the other guys will do the same thing.

Q - How often do you perform?
A - During the summer, when a few of us are off 'cause we teach, we tend to play there, sometimes four nights a week. During the school year, it's scaled down to mostly Friday and Saturday.

Q - The band sounds great on this CD of yours "Live At Hooligans."
A - Oh, thanks.

Q - You obviously know what goes into making a song sound good. Could you sit down and write original material for a CD?
A - Actually, we have original material, we just haven't had the opportunity to promote it or get it out there where we're playing. We're known as a dance and party band and we tend to feel that some of the stuff we write individually wouldn't be recognized by people. I understand that. The only way it's gonna be recognized is if we start playing it. People like to come out and hear songs that they recognize so they can dance to. That's what we're known for. So, we really haven't had the opportunity to get it out. On our next CD we really want to incorporate some of the originals onto it, but we decided to do another live CD, so we're still going to be doing covers on this one. What we're planning on doing this winter is, we're probably gonna take the month of March off and go in the studio and actually do a studio CD with some of the originals on it.

Q - You were in Nite Life, Night Magic and The Four. How far back do these bands go?
A - Nite Life goes back to 1982. Night Magic was basically for me from 1989 to 1994. I was never a full-time member of The Four. My father was in The Four for 18 years. I used to play drums for The Four and sub for them quite a bit. Then, later on, towards the end I used to sing with them and sub with them also. So, I was never a member of The Four, but I played with them enough during the years that I always put them on my resume because they were a well-known wedding and party band for 25 years in this area.

Q - These bands were all cover bands?
A - Yes.

Q - Where did you perform with these groups?
A - With these bands we did all private parties, weddings, and corporate stuff. We didn't do any clubs. Well, with Night Magic we did the Holiday Inn circuit, The Great Laker and places like that. Night Magic was more of a Top 40 band that I sang in. With Nite Life and The Four it was all private parties.

Q - Is there any rivalry between Prime Time and Atlas?
A - No, not at all. The guys in Atlas are friends of ours. We'll go out and hear them and support them. Every time I go out George from Atlas ends up calling me onstage to sing. They come out to hear us and we do the same thing. Last time George and Jerry from Atlas came out and came up onstage at Freddy's and sat in with us. We all know each other well. We refer work to each other's bands. It's more of a support thing just because its live music and we just want to keep that type of thing going in Syracuse and feel fortunate that we're able to work as much as we do. I've never looked at it as competition. I fully support any other band, especially a horn band that is up and coming and trying to do similar things to what we do. I've noticed in the last year or so that other horn bands have started to develop and form. I look at that and I think George from Atlas looks at it as a form of flattery.

© Gary James All Rights Reserved