There are bands that, from the first listen, feel as though they
were cut from a record label-created mold. There are also bands that
aside from their talent, can't ever seem to find their place within
the scene. Then there are those few that no matter how hard someone
tries, they can't pin a label on them; there's no genre that completely
encompasses their sound and there's no other band out there that they
can truly be compared to. Well if you've been lucky enough to make
it out to the recent Paramore tour and been there just about
an hour earlier than the main act, you've had the pleasure of experiencing
a band that meets that final set of criteria I mentioned. The band
that I speak of goes by the name of Paper Route. And recently,
I was not only lucky enough to catch their performance, but I also
had a chance to sit down with a couple of the masterminds behind one
of the best acts on the scene, period.
After their amazing set, JT Daly and Andy Smith joined
me for a trip down memory lane and a few interplanetary questions:
Hybrid Magazine: Ok, so I had an original set of questions
and then I saw your set [questions thrown out the window]. Now it's
all curiosity. First curiosity - what are all the instruments you
use on stage?
JT and Andy: Drums, guitar, bass, synth bass, theremin,
multiple samplers, another guitar, glockenspiel, jingle bells, toy
drum set, accordion, lap steel, keyboards, and KAOSS pad (you get
JT: Normally we also have a harmonica on the set, but we didn't
bring it along for this tour.
HM: What instruments did Paper Route start out with? Was there
always this multitude?
JT: We've been consistently changing our set and I think we
always will be. We're always critiquing our set, trying to figure
out new ways to actually perform electronic music. For example, this
was version 61 of our set. It's a constant work in progress.
HM: People have labeled you synth rock and electronic rock.
But if you could come up with your own genre that involves all of
those instruments, what would it be?
Andy: America-tronica. 'Cause we love America and we love
electronics in general. We spend probably 40 hours a week in RadioShack.
HM: Now, take me through the inception, creation and production
of your most recent release Absence.
Andy: We were recording stuff, putting songs together just
for the joy of it. And we put out a couple EPs. But all the while
we're making songs and kind of setting them aside. Then when Universal
came on, they were like "ok this is a good idea to try and make
a full length record." They were really about whatever we wanted
to do. So we rented a house out in the middle of nowhere, Tennessee.
We went out there with all of our studio stuff, and just kind of put
finishing touches on all the songs we were previously working on.
HM: So Absence was your first official album on Universal.
In other words they found you before it was created?
JT: Essentially we already had it recorded and then unfortunately
we had to wait for them to release it. Which is kinda how a major
label works. They just kind of stepped alongside us.
HM: Speaking of labels, do you think there are advantages
or disadvantages to both major and indies? Do you prefer one or the
Andy: Yeah, there's an illusion with indie labels that you
"discover" a band when it's on an indie label. Makes them
feel like a secret. In major labels there's a similar vibe, but not
as much. But either way, it's just an illusion of the "discovery."
Though at this time, indies and major are pretty much at the same
level. Everyone's working with the same budget; everyone's trying
to get their foot in the door.
HM: In the end, was there a preference?
Andy: It's important to find someone who believes in what
you're doing and wants to come along. So, it seems like Universal
really got that.
HM: Are there any tour essentials that you must have?
Andy: Coffee. We didn't have coffee today until about 2 o'clock.
JT: I wanted to die.
Andy: I seriously wished I was dead, multiple times.
HM: Is there a specific coffee, are you Starbucks people?
Andy: Well it goes in tiers. At ten o'clock, we're like, "let's
go to some third wave place down the street." Then by 10:30,
we're like, "let's go to Starbucks." By 11am, it's, "ok,
I'll do Dunkin Donuts." And by 12 it's, "let's just find
anything." And that my friends, is a drug addiction.
JT: We're actually Americano fans, we're espresso fans.
HM: It does kind of go with your genre.
Andy: Yeah, that's right. Americano-tronica. We also like
HM: Run me through the story of Paper Route.
JT: We were in a band for four days. That exploded.
HM: Just differences in opinions?
JT: No, just didn't work. We were just in a different head
space. But we kept coming back to music. We felt like we had to write,
as a way to survive. Because there were no other intentions. I would
get together and record with Chad. And Andy heard us, so he
joined in. Very effortlessly the band kind of formed.
Andy: Everyone was writing songs. And we already had this
history of chemistry between us. We were all excited about getting
our ideas down that the collaboration was really natural and really
HM: What is the general theme behind your music?
JT: For Absence, it was the longing for something that
is not there.
Andy: We usually write a lot about love and God, in general.
So perhaps, this is the absence of those things.
HM: Are you the prime lyric writer (directed to JT)?
JT: No, all of us write, all of us contribute.
HM: Are there any other artists or life experiences that influence
how you make your music?
JT: For me personally, I draw a lot visually. While recording
Absence we played a video in the studio, a very specific movie.
Because we always wanted to incorporate a cinematic sense into our
Andy: Personally I write a lot from a memory perspective.
I'm really emotional and I'm just trying to remember something that
sticks out. It seems like the best lines come out of those moments,
HM: Are there any goals for Paper Route?
JT: Just to be so awesome.
Andy: Some people say they want to make millions of dollars,
I want to make billions. I'd like to sell billions of records. I want
to go galactic. The business is definitely changing, but that doesn't
change our focus, we want to go galactic!
JT: We want to sell a billion records.
Andy: That is one sixth of the world's population, owning
our record. But, no... in all seriousness, we just want to keep making
songs that we love and writing songs that are meaningful to us. We're
an earnest band, and we hold our hearts on our sleeves and any time
we've ever loved has come from bands that were earnest. It's real
and it just works for us.
Shameless plug: "Buy our album in stores, or our online store
Follow our twitter accounts, guaranteed to enrich your lives."
After a few more moments marveling over the fiber optic light decorations
and contemplating their retrieval for future PR sets, we parted
ways so that the guys could go guest on the final Paramore song.
Their music is genius and their set is one kind. Where else will
you catch grown men playing on a child's drum set? But to top it
off, they're 2 of the most down-to-earth and humble guys. Definitely
an enjoyable experience, both their show and their album.
Photograph by Chris Mullins Photography
More Music Features
e-mail the chief
Like this article?
it to a friend!