Paper Route Makes Tracks for Windy City

Paper Route Interview
Universal Records
Absence – Out now!

Currently on tour with Owl City, Paper Route has sold out every performance until their upcoming gig at The Aragon Ballroom. When asked what keeps them focused during the hectic hours of touring, band member J.T. Daly sputtered the word “pancakes” more than a few times. Andy Smith had a more resounding answer saying, “Patience, resilience and a willingness to forgive each other.”

Paper Route is ready and set to amaze the soon-to-be sold out show on April 30th. I got the chance to chat with multi-instrumentalists Andy Smith and J.T. Daly of Paper Route who discussed their past albums, future writing and what’s in store for the massive show at the end of the April.

Could you start by telling me what you like most about your live performances?

JT: Honestly man, we come from Nashville, but we make electronic music. We like to really break out in our live sets, all the sounds we’ve ripped up and ruined by putting them into machines and performing that. When you see a band perform live everything becomes real, especially if the song is real. It’s cheesy, but I believe in that. I’m a firm believer in the artist writing their own material, it just comes alive. It is something completely different; they are living that moment again.
AS: I think we like a lot of density and texture. We also like to create those things as they happen. There are a lot of hands on deck, and hopefully our process is interesting to watch.
JT: It’s a big loud show we love.
AS: I think that about sums it up.

There’s a bit of gossip going around that mentions a future unique concert with Paramore in Ireland?

AS: I honestly have no idea how this is happening. We haven’t heard of it ourselves.
JT: (laughs) We’re playing Neverland, too!

Your first few EPs were produced by separate label companies. Did you struggle to find the right label in your early years?

JT: No, not necessarily. I think the band was just getting bigger, and we naturally progressed as we went along. I mean, I think we have always tried to make smart business decisions. Just try to find a perfect home. Every album so far has the right home. When we made this last album, we got one shot with a major label deal. It all just made sense.

How did you get your one shot with Universal Motown Records?

JT: Honestly, this whole band is very accidental. We did sort of get a lot of major label attention, but we weren’t reaching out to them.
We have just kind of done whatever felt good at the time. We are a very blue collar band. We do everything ourselves. That is very appetizing to a major label now. And I can’t blame ‘em!

Has anything changed from recording your EPs to recording your “debut” album with Universal?
AS: The climate is different. We thought it was getting worse. There were a lot of pros and cons.
Things like cell phones didn’t exist 25 years ago, and now I walk around with the internet with my pocket. It seems that now more than ever artists aren’t able to take the music or mediums and get it out to people in such an easy way.
JT: By the time our album came out, I think half the people in the credits had lost their job. We were essentially right back to where we started.
They lost their jobs because people don’t buy music anymore. The music [people] do buy has to be the perfect equation. It has to make sense across all mediums and genres. The mom has to approve it because she heard it on the radio and [the song] has to fit into the system. We only wanted to do something a little different.

Fight the system?

JT: We just didn’t really fit into the system well. That’s just the kind of music we make. That’s the band we are.
Does it feel like the band is being pushed in a different direction?
AS: It depends on how much the label trusts you. How much they can afford to trust you. It’s complete random luck. Ultimately, it’s really kind of toxic. When you have a label, they are real forthright with making good hits.
JT: When it works, it becomes a lot easier because we’re helping everyone pay their bills. Besides that, our vision doesn’t change. We just kind of have to go to battle so we don’t lose that. You really have to play a mind game getting into that headspace. Not forgetting why people paid attention to us in the first place.

Is there anything you wish you could change?

AS: You’re going to find a problem with pretty much everything, all small things. I never want it to change though. It’s fun.
JT: You’ll kind of always wish for what you don’t have. We’d reminisce about sitting in a van and listening to music. And now we’re in a van wanting to rip our arms off. We can’t just do what we want anymore.

Does the added stress affect your writing process?

AS: Personally, the closest I ever get to is melodies and lyrics, not full songs. You don’t have any privacy to write, any space to stretch out and set up your laptop and keyboard.
JT: We spent the last couple of months back home writing a bunch. The plan is that when we get home from this tour around the end of May, we’ll buckle down and start recording the next full length. That remains to be seen, but that’s the plan. Hopefully within the next year.
AS: We just released a remix album, some really sick artists. A lot of people we have shared the stage with. They all offered to do that for us. We are huge fans of these artists.

Does your hometown of Nashville, TN shape your songwriting style in any way?

JT: It gives us an emphasis on the craft of songwriting. It’s not anything weird or forced; it’s definitely a balance of discipline. Our blue collar background has been derived of living where music is typically a working man’s tradition.
AS: And I think that being surrounded with such a history of these types of songwriters who keep it simple. It’s like, they write about three things: God, the land or their lover. I mean, basically that’s your musical catalogue. And I don’t know anything else I would ever sing about. It encouraged me maybe; maybe I was running away from that.
JT: All I ever did growing up really was work at a gas station, had a paper route and the band. Day dreaming while being at work… We all had something in our lives dealing with a “paper route.”

Paper Route plays at The Aragon Ballroom with Owl City on Friday, April 30th. Tickets are still available, but for how much longer? I wouldn’t take chances!

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