PEI, Canada’s Paper Lions embark on their Fall 2011 tour tonight, starting out in Fredericton, NB. We spoke to the band a few weeks back at the end of their September residency at The Supermarket in Toronto; where there were probably more arm-crossers than the band will see tonight in New Brunswick.
MV: So you guys have had a pretty busy month with the Supermarket residency and your Ontario tour. When I heard about this stay in Toronto that you guys were doing, I didn’t realize it would be a full Ontario tour. What places have you guys visited?
2: We’ve been all over- Kingston, Windsor, London a couple times, Sarnia, St. Catherines, Sudbury, Peterborough.
1: Some real off the beaten trail places as far as suburbs of Toronto go- Would you call them suburbs?
2: Peterborough I’d kind of consider like a sub-suburb. I don’t know if Torontonians would consider it that.
2: A massive stone’s throw.
MV: What’s the turn out been for some of those places?
2: Some have been great. Some not so great which is generally the case when you’re playing smaller towns. Toronto is predictably more reliable because there’s just more people.
1: Passionate, passionate response though. Small but mighty crowds across the board you might say.
MV: Probably no arm-crossers.
2: People outside of Toronto really like to dance. It’s interesting playing shows here (where) if people are really into a show here arms are crossed, but you know- heads are nodding, they’re bopping. If they’re really into it they’ll set their drink down or pinch it between their arm and clap after a song. And that’s when you know that things are really going well. But in places like Peterborough people are dancing and singing and laughing and crying.
MV: They’re just probably excited to see live music.
1: Yeah, I guess it’s not really the hotbed of entertainment to pull from night-after-night, weekend-after-weekend. Much like PEI.
MV: How many days did you guys actually have off while you were here?
2: We had 9 days when there weren’t shows.
1: When we arrived it was nice and sunny and we kind of kicked back and wrote a lot of songs too. We hooked up with some of the bands that have been sharing the bill with us for the residency- we were sharing a practice space with them for the month as well.
2: There weren’t really any days off per say. But it’s been good. It’s been nice for the 4 of us to live together and have that intensity for 31 days.
MV: Who are some of the bands you’ve been jamming with and playing with at the residency?
2: It’s been great. We feel like the Toronto scene has collectively opened their arms and welcomed us warmly.
1: It’s been diverse week-to-week.
2: Allie Hughes played with us the first week.
1: We did a few shows with her at NXNE. Also Nick Rowes played that show from Sweet Thing- another fantastic band we met at the Hillside festival in Guelph. We’ve had Dwayne Gretzsky, Gavin Slade and Green Go- an electric project we’ve been sharing a practice space with. They were on a hiatus for a while, but they got together to do a show with us. Petty Victories as well. This week we’ve got Loom.
1: We’ve been keeping it fresh too as far as our sets go. We’ve been working on a lot of new songs, so each week has been different.
1: It just depends. Right now we’re in the writing process. Ideally we will have songs to spare. We’re aiming to have 9-11 songs on the new record, so it would be comforting for us to come into those sessions with 15-20 songs we felt good about.
2: Can’t count the chickens before they hatch.
MV: And is it going to be all new material, or are you going to reuse some of the stuff from Trophies?
1: It will most likely be all fresh.
2: It’s not to say that we don’t like Trophies, we’re very happy with the album but you always want to evolve and keep moving forward and we’ve been writing enough to keep triumphantly marching forward towards the future.
1: That would be a great headline- “Paper Lions Triumphantly March Forward Into The Future!”
MV: You guys would need a photo of you done up as spacemen.
MV: Do you all still live in PEI?
2: That is home, yeah.
MV: Do you feel that in the future you may have to relocate to a larger city like Halifax or Montreal or Toronto to continue doing what you’re doing?
1: As long as we’re able to do things like we’re doing right now- which is move to Toronto for a month, I don’t foresee any need to move. Logistically it’s only 18 hours to drive to Toronto or 16 hours to drive to New York. And also it’s a really exciting time in the music scene on PEI- I can’t say I would want to leave it.
MV: Tell me a bit about the scene in PEI? I’m pretty ignorant to it.
2: It’s really blossomed over the last 5-6 years. It’s a small place, but the caliber of bands is pretty high. It’s not competitive, but everyone is going out to each others’ shows. It forces you to get your shit together and outdo each other in a comfortable, non-competitive (way). There’s lots of diversity as well. There’s lots of rock bands, indie rock bands. There’s still a really vibrant folk scene. Both scenes have been doing really well and mixing a lot too.
MV: Do you think that the place that you come from has any influence on the music you write?
1: I think we used to think it would musically, but it doesn’t in the obvious sense. What I mean by that is that we’re not putting fiddles into our music and all that kind of stuff. We can enjoy and appreciate the East Coast music we grew up with, but it doesn’t necessarily shape the music that we’re writing. That being said, I think there’s an atmosphere of musicality that- from a young age everyone picks up a musical instrument- whether it’s a fiddle, a piano, or a guitar. Everyone sings in choir. I think that general east coast sense of music lovers definitely has a large impact on the way we view music.
2: Also too with our new material- lyrically things are really being influenced from where we grew up. We’re drawing a lot from childhood stories and nostalgia from the 4 of us growing up together since we were born basically. So we’ve been reaching back to our home in that way, and it’s been a natural fit for us.
MV: You guys have played with some really cool bands in the past like Rheostatics and Cake. If there was a wishlist of bands you could play with in the future, who would it be?
2: I was a huge Cake fan growing up. Whenever we got asked to do that tour it was a dream come true. And we were actually hand-picked by them which was even more flattering- that it wasn’t political, or about selling tickets. They liked the band and they wanted to give us the chance to go on the road with them. Any band that we have respect for- especially in the Canadian music scene from Arcade Fire to New Pornographers, Tegan and Sara, all these great bands have been putting out quality records for numbers of years. To be able to play with them and pick their brains on what it does take to make it and the comraderie of being a Canadian band on that level would be really fun for a band at our stage.
1: Honestly, we could probably list 50-100 bands that we would be happy to tour with.
2: The list is never-ending basically. It’s always enjoyable meeting bands that share a similar experience and it’s comforting to know that there’s other people that have gone through what you’ve gone through what you’ve gone through (because) there’s a lot of road blocks along the way of trying to make a career out of this in Canada- living in PEI. Having anyone to look up to is comforting.
© Natascha Malta, Music Vice
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