The Paper Kites - Interview
Speaking about his band's time in Manhattan last year, Sam Rasmussen from The Paper Kites told me, “We kind of first arrived in the evening, and asked our tour manager to drop us off somewhere, so we could find our own way back to the hotel. So he dropped us at Rockefeller Center, and we wandered around at night for a while, which was fun.
“The next morning I woke up, sat up in my bed and opened the window, and it had just started snowing outside. I could see all the way down the street, and it was just magical. In moments like that, I often have flashbacks to our early rehearsals, when we were just sitting around on Christina’s lounge room floor, mucking around and making up songs. Now it’s like, ‘Geez, how did we get here?’”
The Paper Kites have certainly taken some pretty enormous steps since 2010. Since those early days of making demo tapes at home in Melbourne with a stack of CD-Rs, a stamp, and some cardboard sleeves from eBay, the band have gone on to sell out a run of headline shows throughout the US and Canada.
Since the release of their first single, Bloom, The Paper Kites have been steadily refining their sound. From the outset, the band’s earthy brand of indie-folk struck a chord, and on the strength of their first EP Woodland, they were invited to support both Boy & Bear and Josh Pyke on their respective national tours. After the success of Young North, the band’s second EP and first with a producer (ARIA Award-winner Wayne Connolly) on board, The Paper Kites began recording their debut full-length album, States.
“We certainly wanted to build something that was full, rich, and textured, and you can kind of see the difference between the album and, say, our first EP. For Woodland, we just performed our parts and mixed them up a bit, because that was all we knew, and all that we could afford. With States, we wanted to build something deeper and richer, and we were lucky enough to have a few more resources available. We were able to take more time in the studio, experiment with sounds and ideas, and not be pushed by the clock. We sometimes spent a whole afternoon or evening just fiddling with things, and trying to create sounds.”
The result of this meticulous recording process was a musically confident, emotionally mature record that has affirmed the band’s growing popularity. States is a remarkable lattice of vocal harmonies and instrumental richness, that swells, fades and echoes at all the right moments. It has been critically and publically lauded, and for good reason.
The album caught the attention of Canadian singer-songwriter-sweetheart Dallas Green, who asked the band to support City and Colour on tour last year. The Paper Kites jumped at the chance, and followed it up with their own run of sold-out headline shows, throughout the US and Canada.
“It was eye-opening. The City and Colour tour was certainly the biggest we’ve been a part of, both in terms of venue and audience size. There were a lot of musical highlights, but overall, we just loved being over there. A few of us hadn’t been to North America before, so there were plenty of highlights in the simple things, like just going out and exploring after shows. We didn’t have a lot of time, but we slotted some things in where we could. Like, we wanted to see Niagara Falls, so we added one or two hours to the journey that day.”
Despite their successes, The Paper Kites still prefer the scenic route whenever possible. They’re a grounded bunch, whose inauspicious beginnings on the floor of Christina’s lounge room were never intended to build quite so much momentum. “We didn’t say ‘Hey guys, let’s make a band, and get our song on the radio, and do a bunch of tours.’ We just started the band because we had similar interests in music, and we said to ourselves ‘Ok, let’s have a bit of fun here.’
It’s been a big year for the kids from Melbourne, but after a relatively quiet couple of months, The Paper Kites are itching to hit the road again. Last month, the band announced a tour of Australia and New Zealand that’ll keep them busy over May and June.
“We’re really looking forward to it because it’s our biggest Australian tour to date, but also because we’ve completely overhauled our set. Dynamically, it’ll probably feel quite different to the shows that people are used to seeing us play. We’re playing most of the songs off of the Woodland EP, and a lot of kind of older songs that tend to be crowd favourites.”
Intent on delivering the best performance possible, the band have also put a lot of time into the recreating the sonic richness of States in their live shows.
“It took a lot of work, because we didn’t want to come out and play the absolute basics. We worked very hard on the pieces we were playing, our sounds, our arrangements, when we use extra instrumentalists, and that kind of thing. We wanted to do it justice, because it’s very important to us.”
Sydney-siders can catch The Paper Kites at the Enmore Theatre on the 30th of May, a gig that has a charming bit of symmetry to it. “We supported Boy and Bear there in 2011, and it was so cool as a young band, on one of our first tours, to play such a big venue. To go back now and headline it is really, really exciting.”
By Jake Ausburn