Born in Three Hills, Alberta, Paul Janz moved to Balen, 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 (Payola$) 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 (Rick Springfield, 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.
Janz dropped out of the music scene completely in the mid 90’s, when he began working towards his undergraduate degree in philosophy from Simon Fraser University. In a sense, he then returned to his pre-musical roots when he pursued theology studies at the University of Cambridge. In 2000, he began a four-year stint at Trinity Western University in Langley, BC as Assistant, then as Associate Professor of philosophy and religious studies. He joined King’s College in London as Lecturer in Systematic Theology in January 2005. Since beginning his return to a more religious self, he’s published a number of articles, taking a contemporary view on modern theology, specializing in the field from the late 18th century, on.