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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 the idea).

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 other?

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?

JT: Coffee!

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 Italians.

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 fun.

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 songs.

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, naturally.

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 at www.paperrouteonline.com. 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.

-Rachel Fredrickson

Photograph by Chris Mullins Photography

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