For Paul Ballington plumbing is his trade, however it’s not what the comedy singer songwriter wants to do full time. All day he fixes pipes, but when he gets home he sets up a camera and shows off his own set of pipes to his rapidly growing Facebook following. I spoke to him about his recent success, as well as the money he’s raised for charity and balancing family life with music.
“I set my page two years ago I think, it’s grown a lot over the last six months,” says Paul ‘Ballo’ Ballington. The 38-year-old, confessing he’s an old man, has been writing songs for 20 years but only recently turning to comedy and finding success through his Facebook page.
“The first comedy song I wrote was Ten Pints Of Carling and that was about three years ago I think. To be honest I wrote it by accident, I sat on my keyboard to write a serious song, which is what I used to do, and then the line ten pints of Carling popped into my head and it went from there.”
Currently Paul’s Facebook page has 29,000 followers and some of his videos have hit over a million views. His most popular, a song about boy racers, was shared widely on social media. From the off he makes his opinions known with a tidy expletive.
“You kind of hope that you write one and it takes off a little bit and that seemed to happen with the boy racer song. Even though I got tons of abuse from boy racers, it took off and I think my page grew from something like four or five thousand to about ten thousand”
Paul insists that he’s never offensive in any of his songs. “I always avoid things like race and religion, I take the mick, just light hearted humour.”
Boy Racers, however, did get some backlash but Paul just humoured it. “I picked on a bunch of people who didn’t like the mick taken out of them. It didn’t really bother me to be honest. I thought it was quite funny more than anything, not really a problem.”
In addition to the original songs, recently Paul has been covering several of the big hits in the charts by artists such as Meghan Trainor, Shawn Mendes, Galantis and Miley Cyrus. But of course with Paul there’s a twist, changing the lyrics to his down to earth and sometimes cheeky humour. He doesn’t believe Mike Posner “took a pill in Ibiza”, but that “he took a bird for a pizza.”
Paul’s bouncy Yorkshire charm makes him immediately likable. Starting videos with an ebullient “Ey up” and finishing them with a theatrical “I thank you,” adds to his cheeky chappy demeanour. He admits these sign ins and outs were not a conscious decision, nevertheless, they’ve become a signature mark.
As well as the Facebook page, Paul has produced an album. Memories Of Yesterday was released last year amassing a couple of hundred downloads through itunes as well as around a hundred sales in CDs but, as Paul is posting them out, he concedes big sales are difficult. “I don’t think I’ll be making my millions doing an album but it’s done alright,” he adds.
Being his first comedy song, Paul says his favourite from the album is Ten Pints Of Carling. It’s another song, however, that has been the best received. “I think the most popular on it is When We Were Kids, I think if I was listening to it and it wasn’t my own album, I’d say When We Were Kids was my favourite.”
A whirlwind of childhood nostalgia, When We Were kids is a toe tapping list of memories coalesced by Paul and his friends over Facebook, the idea to make it as relatable as possible. “I put a little status on Facebook saying can people list things they remember from their childhood, there was tons of stuff, obviously there was plenty that I could remember, but people just put all sorts of stuff down.”
Paul has also raised money for charity. He released a Christmas song to raise money for PACT, a charity through Sheffield’s children’s hospital which helps leukaemia sufferers, paying for them to have a day out. The song was rereleased the following year to raise money for Bluebell Wood, a hospice caring for children and young adults across South Yorkshire.
“The PACT one was the first one and it was quite successful that, raised near a thousand pounds, that was through downloads and we also set up a just giving page so people could contribute.”
Paul tries to perform his songs live in his home town of Sheffield as much as possible. “I’m starting to do it more and more, I put a couple of nights on around here, got a little local theatre that holds a couple of hundred people and I’ve sold that out a couple of times and I’ve played at the O2 academy in Sheffield.”
Balancing two young kids, his job and music, Paul is understandably too busy to perform as much as he’d like. “All this music stuff has come at the wrong time in my life. I’m more kind of bothered about the writing side of it than the actual performing. I’m just going along with it at the minute and seeing what happens.”
“I try not to have too much going on all at once, it just gets crazy.”
Asking whether his children have listened to his music Paul chuckles, replying: “Yeah they do, they really enjoy them. There’s only certain ones they’re allowed to listen to so I have to be a little bit careful.
“My little lad, he’s nine, I have played him songs and I’ve said when it gets to this word you know it’s not a word you use at school. There’s the Christmas song which is a totally clean song and the Get On Yer Bike song and yeah they love them, my little girl dances around to them and they were both in the Christmas video.”
A football fan, Paul has released a song and accompanying music video for England ahead of their European Championship campaign. I’d Love It is a classic jumpy football tune, immediately relatable for any fan.
Doing something you love as your job is something many people aspire to and this is no different for Paul. With no hesitation when asked about his ultimate ambition, Paul says: “It’s got to be doing this as a job, doing something in music, it’s not to be famous or anything like that it’s to make a living doing music, whether I’m in the background or I’m performing I don’t mind.
“My big ambition is to not be plumbing well I would say at 40 but that’s a bit ambitious because that’s 18 months away, but to be doing this as a day job definitely the ambition, not to be scratching about under people’s baths and bogs!”