Interview: The Paper Sons — "It's not what you say, it's how you say it…"
Wed, 17 Mar 2010 12:12:47
The Paper Sons brilliantly bend and break rock 'n' roll conventions to their whim. That whim happens to be exceedingly refreshing, intriguing and unique. On their debut album, In The Throes…, The Paper Sons build simultaneously ethereal and crushing soundscapes, diving headfirst into the horrors of heartbreak and growing up. Sonically, the band sounds like the perfect middle ground White Pony-era Deftones and early Queens of the Stone Age—in other words, an aural headtrip worth taking again and again. For proof, just spin "Catch & Release" or the epic album closer, "The Tides."
The Paper Sons frontman Tom McCullough spoke to ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino in an exclusive interview about what's behind In the Throes…, some favorite poets and why it's all in the delivery…
If In the Throes… were a movie, what would it be?
It's kind of a tragedy, I guess [Laughs]. There's some pretty tragic stuff in there. The album runs the whole gamut from love to love lost to healing. It's probably a love story overall, though. Most of the songs are about to holding on to things that you love. Some things just don't work out, and some things fizzle off in the midst of other issues going on. It was mostly written about how you lose people because of some things, but you've got to follow your dreams. Some people disagree with it, while others stick around. You figure out who your real friends are and people that are close to you. It's definitely about the healing process. That's a good question…
Is the album also about growing up?
Yes, it's definitely about growing up. I wrote this when I was in the midst of my first year after getting out of college—the real world sort of sets in at that point [Laughs]. I had to talk about my real world experiences, whether they're as far back as middle school to right now. It's a culmination of all those things. It was a learning experience, and I grew up through all that. A lot of the album is based on relationships and breakups. I can't seem to get rid of that [Laughs]. It's not easy with being in a band. If you dated somebody before you joined the band and you take that step and starting taking it seriously that can cause a lot of conflict because that person may think you need to do something different or they didn't expect you to do that. It's hard because it's like your choosing between the person and the band, until you find somebody who just wants you, wants you to be happy and wants you to do what you want to do. A lot of the songs are about a specific breakup that ended that way.
You've got to follow what's right for you because that'll lead to the best music. There's a real honesty to what you do.
I can't really hide that; and I figured that out pretty early on. I have to be completely honest in the lyrics and completely forthright with everything. The honesty has to be there for me to make a coherent song and write coherent lyrics. It's a pleading for, not necessarily acceptance, but something bigger, I think. I try to leave out some of the anger, but I think it shines through a little bit. There's some anger there and a lot of resentment but coming to terms with that. Time heals that for the most part, but it's still pretty painful when you think about it—depending on how much time you spent with these people that wanted you to do a specific thing, it can still resonate later on.
How do lyrics typically come about?
It's natural. When we get in there to write, we'll figure out melodies. I'll have poems and things like that written out, but I generally go in and let the music dictate what I'm going to write. I don't do a whole lot of reading before I go into writing, but I'm reading the song, so to speak. I read how it feels to me and go from there. I listen to the music over and over again, and then I write the lyrics.
Who are some of your favorite poets?
I like Edgar Allan Poe! I got this really old book of American poets, and that was cool! I've read some of John Lennon's poetry, and that guy was pretty tripped out! I like a lot of that. I spend a lot of my time listening to the music and writing poetry. Growing up I didn't have a whole lot of exposure to that dark side of poetry. It didn't really register to me until I started writing music. I got into a lot of old school hip hop and rhyming, and I still linger in that period. Having that rhyme can really captivate people's memory. That's what I latched on to as a kid—the delivery of all of these really great hip hop artists. Then I got into rock. I began to think, "If these guys can deliver it so well, they can say anything." I don't want to strictly stick to rhyming though, now I want to get into delivery and the concept of how I sing it and what really needs to be said. I can only write so many songs about broken hearts and people I don't trust. I want to expand and start experimenting with the idea of delivery more. To be on point with the tempos is something I hold dear. I'm not the most outgoing person, but when I'm on stage that's when I get to be really outgoing and the delivery comes into play. Hopefully people can relate to what I'm talking about in the songs…
Check out Rick Florino's new novel Dolor available now for FREE here…