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How Four Men With The Same Name Formed The Paul O'Sullivan Band


Members of the Paul O'Sullivan Band include Paul O'Sullivan, Paul O'Sullivan, Paul O'Sullivan, and - wait - come on - not BJ Leiderman, who writes our theme music, but Paul O'Sullivan. Back in 2016, Paul O'Sullivan, who's originally from Baltimore, decided to look for namesakes on Facebook. He eventually connected with three other Paul O'Sullivans who all happened to be musicians, and they formed a long-distance band. In addition to Baltimore Paul, there's Pennsylvania Paul, Manchester, England Paul and Rotterdam Paul from the Netherlands. Last month, this Internet band that has never been in the same room together released its first collection of mostly covers, and it's called "Internet Famous: A Retrospective" EP.


BALTIMORE PAUL O'SULLIVAN: (Singing) Where you think you're going, baby? Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but here's my number, so call me maybe. It's hard to look...

SIMON: We're joined now by Baltimore Paul O'Sullivan and Pennsylvania Paul O'Sullivan. Mr. O'Sullivan and Mr. O'Sullivan, thanks so much for being with us.

BALTIMORE PAUL O'SULLIVAN: Thank you. This is awesome.

PENNSYLVANIA PAUL O'SULLIVAN: It's a great pleasure to be with you, Scott.

SIMON: Well, by the way, my middle name is Sullivan. So if you, you know - if you ever find a place for me, maybe I could slip in. Mr. O'Sullivan in Baltimore, how'd you find all these musicians with the same name?

BALTIMORE PAUL O'SULLIVAN: So I had a friend of mine who had met his name twin, and that got the wheels kind of spinning in my mind, like, I wonder what my name twins are up to? So there was one night where I was just indiscriminately adding a bunch of other Paul O'Sullivans on Facebook. And a week or two went by, and then some of their posts start showing up on my feed. And it's like, wait a minute. We're all musicians.

SIMON: Pennsylvania Paul O'Sullivan (laughter), did you think this was nuts?

PENNSYLVANIA PAUL O'SULLIVAN: Well, here's the thing, Scott. I'm an identical twin, and I've always been called Peter, which is my identical twin brother. So to find another Paul O'Sullivan, I was like, you know, in gravy. This was just great stuff. And I've traveled all over the world. I've never met another Paul O'Sullivan. It was just irresistible.

SIMON: Boy. What kind of musician are you? A great one, I'm sure, but I meant, what's your specialty?

PENNSYLVANIA PAUL O'SULLIVAN: Full disclosure - I'm an amateur musician. I learned piano when I was a child, and I've always loved music. And when he contacted me, I said, well, how are we going to fit me in if you guys - you know, I'm not a professional musician. He said, well, we need a percussionist. You can never have too much cowbell.

SIMON: (Laughter).

PENNSYLVANIA PAUL O'SULLIVAN: And the two of us - he's a music teacher. So he's been - actually, all three of them have taken me under their wing, and we're working it out.

SIMON: Wow. Baltimore Paul O'Sullivan, you've never been in the same room, all of you together, right? How do you get the chemistry together for recording?

BALTIMORE PAUL O'SULLIVAN: Actually, Pennsylvania Paul and I have met in person, but we're the only two out of the entire band that have ever met in person. But as for making it all come together with the music, it's really like this organic process where me and Rotterdam Paul - we're, kind of kicking song demo ideas back-and-forth to each other. And after that, we kind of kicked it over to Manchester Paul to add a - kind of a groovy bass line over it. And then we got Pennsylvania Paul to add some percussion. And it's just like - the process worked so well that we're like, why don't we just replicate that? So that's what we did. And it's been wild because so many radio stations up and down the East Coast have been playing our song. Like, I have an interview in New Zealand. This has been so wild. And like, we don't even have a record label or a manager. It's just kind of taking on a life of its own.

SIMON: Well, let's hear some music. This is a single about long-distance relationships called "Namesake."


BALTIMORE PAUL O'SULLIVAN: (Singing) We've grown so fond from across the pond. And the spark that lit as you recommit...

SIMON: I love the line. We've grown so fond across the pond.

BALTIMORE PAUL O'SULLIVAN: That was kind of a double meaning there where I was imagining kind of this romantic couple that are in this long-distance relationship being - you know, different continents with the Atlantic Ocean in the middle. And then - but it's true to us, too, because there's two of us in America and two of us in Europe - and just some of the difficulties that come with a long-distance relationship, even from a logistical standpoint.

PENNSYLVANIA PAUL O'SULLIVAN: This is Pennsylvania Paul. I want to add to that. Right after he met us, Baltimore Paul came down with very serious, life-threatening illnesses. And it really threatened his life, our dream. But it solidified our friendship. We really sort of rallied around Paul because he had this dream, and yet he was really hitting a big bump in the road. And he came through it, and we were just very elated that it was going to be on again. And the pandemic hit - right? - COVID. And yet we'd already sort of been through - tested by the fire whether we were going to be a band or not. And we soldiered through. And what Baltimore Paul's goal was is to end 2020. You know, everybody was saying, oh, I can't wait to get over 2020. Our view was we were going to end 2020 on a high note, not a low note.

SIMON: Baltimore Paul O'Sullivan, you're feeling better. You're a music instructor.


SIMON: And Pennsylvania Paul?

PENNSYLVANIA PAUL O'SULLIVAN: I'm mostly retired, I guess, or unemployed. I'm not sure which is which.

SIMON: And I'm told Manchester Paul's a former college lecturer who now works in public health. And Paul O'Sullivan in Rotterdam - oh, God bless - is a grief counselor.

PENNSYLVANIA PAUL O'SULLIVAN: Yeah, they're really dear, dear people.

BALTIMORE PAUL O'SULLIVAN: Absolutely. We hit the name twin lottery with these guys.

SIMON: Paul O'Sullivan of Baltimore, Paul O'Sullivan of Pennsylvania, both members of the four-member Paul O'Sullivan Band. Gentlemen, thanks so much for speaking with us, and may you keep making beautiful music together.

BALTIMORE PAUL O'SULLIVAN: Thank you so much, and thank you for having us.



PAUL O'SULLIVAN BAND: (Singing) To one whose name... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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