Interview with Paper Lions

After featuring Canadian indie rockers Paper Lions rather nifty music video for their track ‘Lost The War’ in our 3rd Video Edition of ‘What We Like’ it seemed only logical to ask the band for an interview. They happily obliged and provided us with some great answers. The band are at the beginning of a 15 date tour of Canada so if you get the chance definitely go and see them – they will be offering advice on how to open an oyster… um, yes you read that right. Paper Lions will be bringing their oyster opening skills to Europe sometime in the future!

Cat On The Wall: For those of our readers who have yet to discover Paper Lions could you explain how and when the band came about?

Paper Lions: For the first four years of the band, we were known as Chucky Danger Band. During that time, we toured extensively all over Canada. Due in part to some unique touring opportunities such as Art Starts, (a program exposing schools and communities to all forms of art), literally no ground was left uncovered, from the Queen Charlotte Islands to Charlottetown.

Although successful as CDB, by 2007 we were tired of the moniker and sought a new name more in tune with our maturing sound and new direction. Keep in mind we were kids when the band first started and never really thought music might be something we would spend our adult lives pursuing! In February, 2008 we settled on the name “Paper Lions”.

For the next year and a half, we hibernated in our practice space on Prince Edward Island. During this time, we wrote dozens of songs in myriad styles. Sifting through extensive basement recordings and demos, we began to find our new sound in short, punchy pop arrangements. In the summer of 2009, we hit the studio and recorded Trophies. Since its release in September, 2010 we’ve toured relentlessly across Canada, as well as in the US, China and Italy.

COTW: Why did you choose ‘Trophies’ to be your first UK release? Where was it recorded? Will the new album be along the same lines?

PL: We feel like the songs on ‘Trophies’ will resonate with a UK audience. With themes of youthful gumption and playful energy, this is probably the first album we’ve done that stands a chance of finding a home in the Motherland.

‘Trophies’ was recorded at Jukasa Studios, an hour outside Toronto, Ontario. It ended up being an amazing deal for the place. We got the studio with all its incredible gear, an engineer and two fully furnished apartments for a couple hundred dollars a day. This was partly because we were the first band ever to record there. Which meant things like power failures in the middle of cutting a guitar line. All in all, definitely worth it though.

As far as the next record goes, we probably won’t be going back to Jukasa. I believe they’ve gotten that power issue figured out and the price has gone up significantly! We’ve been writing a lot of the songs for the new album at our practice space on PEI. It’s an old, semi-abandoned church just outside our capital city, Charlottetown. The acoustics in it are pretty amazing so we’re giving serious consideration to making the next record there.

COTW: What is your creative process as a band when composing songs? Where do you draw your inspiration from?

PL: Generally, someone will bring a small idea to the practice space and we’ll jam until the shell of the song is finished. For the new songs, we’ve been drawing lyrical inspiration from our youth. From our first family trip to Philadelphia, to building forts just to knock them down, it’s actually been quite enjoyable digging up our pasts in search of stories.

COTW: The video for ‘Lost The War’ is fantastic! Who is the director/animator and how did you come to work with them? Is the visual aspect of the band important to you?

PL: Two guys spearheaded the video for ‘Lost The War’; John Poliquin and Nathan Boey. I can’t quite remember how we found them, but we’re sure happy we did. Most of that video, John and Nathan did in post production. All we did as a band was sing a few lines in front of a green screen. For the next few weeks, John and Nathan sat in their apartment, surrounded by pictures of my head, putting together the video. For all the flip book scenes, they printed off the film, glued it to flip books and filmed their own hands turning the pages! We enjoy digging into the visual side of the band, however, we can’t really take much credit for how that video turned out.

COTW: What’s been your most memorable live show(s) so far? Are there any plans for a European tour?

PL: One of my favourite shows was at a festival called Virgin Fest in Toronto. The show itself was pretty good; a respectable crowd for a cool, rainy summer afternoon. However, later in the evening, my brother Rob and myself were standing side stage watching Paul Weller perform, when Rob nudged me and said under his breath, “That’s Liam and Noel Gallagher standing in front of us.” For the next few minutes, the four us of stood there, nodding our heads to the music. A couple of songs later, Oasis’ security kicked us off stage

We’re hoping to cross the pond in the new year, once ‘Trophies’ is properly released in the UK.

COTW: Finally, what does the future hold for Paper Lions?

PL: We’re about to embark on a cross-Canada tour; “The Rolling Oyster Revue”. We’ll be shucking oysters for fans and friends as we bring our music across the country. The back story is a few tours ago, our drummer Dave brought a box of oysters on tour for kicks. He shucked them for some fans and bands we were playing with at a few of the shows. It ended up being such a hit, we thought we’d bring enough for the whole country this time!

Once home in November, we’re going to get back into the studio and record our new album.

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