Lets start off by stating your name and what you do in Paper Route.
My name is Andy Smith. I’m one of the singers in Paper Route and I play guitars.
For the people that aren’t familiar with your band, can you give a brief history of how the band started?
The band started a few years ago as a labor of love between myself, Chad Howat (synths, programming, bass) and JT Daly (the other singer who samples as well) as a studio project. We wrote and recorded a lot and after putting out a couple EP’s we decided we wanted to start playing these songs live. A longtime friend, Gavin McDonald, joined us as a drummer and we started playing shows. We kept playing shows and kept writing songs and now we are here.
How would you describe your music?
There are two singers. The songs are emotional and melodic. We love melody and pop music but we also love interesting production. We have guitars and synths and impressive drumming. We like to sample things and turn them into things they could never have been otherwise.
What were some of the inspirations behind “Absence?”
I find it interesting that hope can linger somewhere inside of loss. I had built a a belief system around myself to make me feel safe or maybe better about my life in general but it wasn’t necessarily true. I should probably say that I believe in God and I believe in love but I also think that love and God are two very complicated things. I loved romance and happy endings a little too much. I feel like everyone wants the dream to be real but when love runs out and God stops talking for a couple years suddenly the dream is over. Trying to cope with that kind of awakening can make you really jaded really fast and this record for me was an exercise in retaining hope when it felt like hope was dead.
Is there a theme throughout the record?
There’s a lyric in the song, “Enemy Among Us” that says “in the silence/you’re the first one that I turn to/you’re the first voice that I turn to/in the absence of my own”. That’s where the title materialized from but we realized that it had consistency across the entire album.
Who produced the record and what was it like working with him?
We produced the record ourselves mostly. A guy named Tony Hoffer added some last minute production on a few tracks and it was good. I think we learned a lot in hindsight as most good and true learning is done. Tony pushed us to finish a song that we thought was a useless half-thought. Now it’s one of my favorites. Sometimes you need an outside perspective to see what’s right in front of you.
What is the next single going to be?
We are constantly changing our minds. We’ve talked about doing a single remix of Dance On Our Graves and we’ve talked about Tiger Teeth and we’ve talked about Gutter…. I guess we’re still feeling it out.
What has the response for “Absence” been so far?
The response has been great and the fans have been incredible. We have the best fans in the world. I’m looking forward to connecting with people at shows and experiencing first hand how people connect with the songs on the album as we are playing them. We are always trying to reinvent songs to make them better live and expand and grow the experience of the album because to us it’s a living, breathing thing.
How did the signing to Universal Motown come about? How are they treating you so far?
Obviously the music industry is changing rapidly. We knew that a label would have to completely understand and support our artistic vision and be willing to support us creatively for it to be a good fit. We had talked with a handful of labels and Universal was exactly what we needed. They were supportive and open to our ideas, had survived a shrinking market and were enthusiastic about us and we quickly grew to love them in return. Their passion for our music made us feel very confident in moving forward with them. Passion can be a very powerful thing.
What is your writing process like?
We’re always trying new things but for this record we all started writing and recording demos on our own then we would mull them over together. Nothing is sacred in our writing process so if someone feels like a melody, structure or lyric is sub-par then they will say it. Sometimes we can knock it out in a day and everything’s very clear, other times we will think we’ve found something great that 2 days later is pretty forgettable. We all try to be as constructive and opinionated as possible in an effort to really bring out the very best in the four of us. It’s a very collective process that is birthed from our individual songs.
What are some of your influences?
Our list of influences is ever changing and always growing. I personally love Peter Gabriel, Brian Lee and His Orchestra, Bon Iver and Canon Blue. That latest Mastodon record is blowing my mind right now too.
What’s a day like on tour for you?
Wake up early enough to stretch and go for a run. Find some breakfast. Get in the van and drive for 5-6 hours unless we have an unusually short drive (never happens). Get to the venue and find out who’s running everything. We load in, wait to sound check, sound check and then wait to play. Then we play. We hang out after we play until the show is over. Then we pack our stuff into our van and trailer. I usually settle with the promoter while Chad books a hotel. We run into the van and sing songs all the way to the hotel where angels are singing the same songs we were singing on the way there and our beds are paved with gold.
What has been the best tour/show you guys have played so far and why?
In Montreal we played a show that was the furthest north we have ever been in North America. Everyone in the crowd was ecstatic which was amazing because we had never been there. The place was packed and everyone was speaking French so after a song I said, “Merci beaucoup”. Everyone screamed. I didn’t think something so simple would work so well. Montreal j’taime.
Any advice for up and coming bands?
It’s like refinishing a floor. You have to sand the floors very slowly with a very big machine over and over and over again. Towards the end you begin sanding it with a very fine grit sandpaper. At this point you’ve been sanding for literally days and it looks smooth and beautiful and when you touch it, it seems finished but the devil is in the details. You know this, so you take it one step further and sand it with an even finer grit sandpaper. Then and only then is it finished. It is always the last step that makes the greatest difference. Music, much like refinishing a floor, is a test of endurance.
If you weren’t in a band, what would you be doing?
What do you think is your greatest accomplishment so far?
Putting out this record.
If you had your own record label, what bands would you sign to it?
Brian Lee and His Orchestra, but I would have to save up a lot of money to coax him into it.
Anything else you would like to add?
Final Fantasy VI is the best Final Fantasy.
Check out Paper Route's AP.net profile here and myspace here.
I absolutely cannot wait to see them with Audrye Sessions. It is absolutely not a far stretch to say Absence will be my favorite album this year; my friend gave me a copy of it and I loved it so much, I bought a physical copy of it just to have it and support their music. Truly a magical record.