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Paper Lions

Never before have the ideas of fresh oysters and indie pop rock met in such a successful combination.  The happy marriage came as PEI natives Paper Lions decided to press upon their audience the art of playing music and shucking oysters last summer.  Paper Lions on tour across the country this summer.  They will be playing songs from their critically acclaimed EP Trophies as well as previewing new material for their upcoming EP and LP both which will both be available shortly.  Specifically, Paper Lions hope to release the latter next September 2012.  For more info visit PaperLions.com.    
Interview by: Valerie Bastien
Valerie: Give us a little bit of history about who you are and your music.  

Paper Lions: We started in a small town on Prince Edward Island, called Belfast, in 2004. There were a number of recordings under a different name, then in 2008 we became Paper Lions. We released an EP in 2010 called Trophies that we're giving away on our website, Paperlions.com. We're currently mixing an EP to be released in June of this year, and we just finished a full length record that we'll be releasing in September of this year as well.

Valerie: What other artists would you compare yourself to?  

Paper Lions: Sloan, Vampire Weekend

Valerie: You have received a very positive response to your CD Trophies released last September.  More than a year later, how do you reflect on the overall creative effort displayed throughout your work on Trophies?  

Paper Lions: The recording of Trophies followed a really long and intense period where, as a band, we shut ourselves away from everything and just created as much music as we possibly could. It was during a time where we changed our name, and sort of coincidentally, changed our perspective about what we wanted to do, and also our ideology about what we wanted to become. So what happened was, we decided on a route that we wanted to take musically, picked the 8 or 9 songs out of 30 or so that fit into that route, and moved forward with the recording. Ultimately, 6 of those songs made it ontoTrophies. Although we all still really like Trophies, I think at this point we consider it to be somewhat safe. And we certainly took that as a challenge while writing and recording our new albums.
Valerie: "Stay Here For A While" from the album Trophies, was a finalist for the prestigious 2010 John Lennon Songwriting Competition; why did this song stand out lyrically or musically in your opinion?  

Paper Lions: To be honest, we were never provided with much insight into why the song was chosen. I believe that the song is really catchy, upbeat and positive. It's a pretty straight-forward love song, but the lyrics are a bit non-traditional. Actually, I'll bet money that it's all based on the key change at the end. Everybody loves key changes.
Valerie: The video for "Lost The War" earned a nomination for the 2010 CBC Radio 3 Bucky Awards.  Tell us about the topic of this song and the video…  

Paper Lions: "Lost The War" is a pretty frivolous tale of a night out, trying to steal a sign reading "Four Year Old Cheddar" from a butcher shop. The protagonist of the song doesn't succeed in stealing the sign, but feels as though he had a good time anyway, hence, losing the war, but winning the battle. The video, as far as I can tell, is nonsense. Good looking nonsense though.

Valerie: Your video "Travelling" is also very successful having reached over 1 million views on youtube.  What makes this song and video so popular in your opinion? 

Paper Lions: There is a fellow that the CBC asked to look into that, and he basically said there was a spike in views starting with a CBC Radio 3 interview, then it increased because we started giving away our record for free on our website. After that it was just social media recommendations that propelled it upward so quickly. That's all true probably, but why it happened when it did, or why it's still happening now, we don't really know. People just really like the song.

Valerie: Paper Lions have been nominated for 13 East Coast Music awards, taking home Pop Recording of the Year in 2006.  What do praises like these mean to you; do they add pressure on your shoulders or do they offer comfort that you are on the right path musically with your work? 

Paper Lions: We're always honoured to be nominated at the ECMA's, or any awards. And yeah, I feel as though it's a small amount of recognition that you're moving in the right direction with your music and your career. We don't feel any pressure because of it at this point. We're pals with everybody at the ECMA's, so it's just a big, fun party weekend.
Valerie: I heard that you have started working on the next album (or is it a EP again) and will be previewing new songs live in the next few weeks.  Can you share more info about the release date as well as a few new titles...  Talk about a couple of these songs please?    

Paper Lions: As I mentioned earlier, we are doing an EP and an LP. The EP will be released in June and we're hoping to have the full length out in September. Titles and such are not set in stone yet, and I wouldn't want to give you the wrong information.  The EP is going to be a stripped down version of the band, almost acoustic, but not quite. There will be six songs on it, four of them are re-recordings of songs from the full length, one is a new version of Travelling, and the last is another old song of ours that we've never recorded before, called Polly Hill.
The LP is a full band recording of ten songs we did with Howard Redekopp in March and April. You can hear acoustic recordings of several of the songs by searching for them on YouTube: "San Simeon", "Sandcastles" and "Pull Me In" come to mind.

Valerie: Last summer, you took great fun on stage in teaching your audience about how to shuck oysters as to share a little bit of your Maritimes heritage.  Will you be teaching us more trick on stage in the next few weeks?  

Paper Lions: It'll be difficult to think of something as fun and delicious as oyster shucking, but we've always got a few tricks up our sleeves.

Valerie: What are your touring plans for this summer? 

Paper Lions: We're going to be around Eastern Canada a bit, but are really gearing up for our record release tour in the Fall.

Upcoming Dates:
June 1 @ Seahorse Tavern, HALIFAX, NS
June 15 @ El Mocambo, TORONTO, ON (**North by Northeast Festival Showcase)
June 22 @ Dragonboat Festival, OTTAWA
June 29 @ Yonge and Dundas Square, TORONTO
July 1 @ Follyfest, GAGETOWN, NB
July 13 @ The Capital, FREDERICTON, NB
July 14 @ Peppers Pub, SAINT JOHN, NB

Valerie Bastien is a vocal coach, teacher, musician and freelance journalist.
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