The Paper Kites are gradually becoming a big deal in Australian music. While they've been much-loved for years by their fans in the indie music stream, they've casually been gaining notoriety in the mainstream market; their new album 'twelvefour' hit the top 10 of the ARIA charts.
As they prepare to embark on an extensive tour to celebrate the release of the album, singer Sam Bentley spoke to me about the success of 'twelvefour'. "When you’re holding on to an album for as long as you do, you’re busting to tell everyone this secret you’re not allowed to tell them, so it’s finally out there now."
With the title derived from the early hours between which the songs were written - 12am and 4am - Sam explained this wasn't a conventional album to make. "There were some odd songs that came out during those hours. Some of the differing ideas that I was bringing to the band clashed with their ideas a little bit. There were definitely some odd songs that came out, and a lot of them actually didn’t make it on the record. Even already, we’ve had a lot of people saying, 'Oh you know, this album’s really different,' but I don’t think it’s really that different. I don’t think it’s as different as it could have been if some of those songs ended up on the record."
Having focused heavily on writing and recording new material, The Paper Kites hav been itching to get back on the road. "It’s been about 14 months since the last tour, so it’s been quite a while," Sam explains. "We’ve just started rehearsing again, so we’ve been held up in this rehearsal space in Kangaroo Ground, of all places... which I thought was just a clever name, but literally I have almost hit five kangaroos driving there, so it’s not just a funny name. But yeah, we’ve started rehearsing for the tour, and it’s sounding really cool; all of these songs are so much bigger than anything we’ve done before. We finished rehearsal the other night and we were like, 'Oh, my ears are ringing.' It’s was really loud, you know. So they sound really cool, and I think they’re going to translate really well live. I’m really looking forward to taking this album on the road."
'REVELATOR EYES' - THE PAPER KITES
The unique approach to the songwriting meant the live performance was always in the back of Sam's mind while penning tunes in the early hours, and in the recording studio. "I remember Phil [Ek - Father John Misty, Fleet Foxes, The Shins], the producer we worked with, stopped the recording one time and came in and said, 'Guys, I think you really need to not hold back on some of these songs. I think you need to let them be what they want to be. Don’t be so reserved in your singing and playing. If this song wants to be an 80s guitar-driven song, then let it be that.' So I think it’s just a different sound, but it’s going to probably lend itself really well to a live set."
"I think you get two sorts of fans with us. You get one group of people that are very open and very supportive of whatever direction we want to take. It’s not all that surprising to them. The fans of the singer-songwriter stuff, it’s still in there, very much, and I think that’ll always be an influence in our songs, because I love that kind of music. But then you get the type of fans that are like, 'I miss the old Paper Kites. This isn’t them.' They’re hanging on to an idea that was on an EP five or six years ago. I think those sort of people are probably more fans of an idea rather than hardcore music fans, I would argue. I mean, I think it’s completely subjective to the sort of music that you like, but I’d like to think that people can be open to you growing as a band, and progressing with your sound, and experimenting and trying new things. I think it’s a little bit ignorant to say it’s not The Paper Kites that we love, when really there’s plenty of songs that are true to singer-songwriter music; you just need to look at it a bit closer. But for the most part, I would like to think that our fans are very open-minded, and everyone’s been really great about this record. We’ve had a lot more feedback in general than we’ve ever had before, so that’s cool."
Following their 13-stop Australian tour, the band is also headed again to America. "We absolutely love going to the U.S.. I remember the first time we went there we were supporting City And Color, and I had this bad taste in my mouth at first about the U.S. - just because I thought everyone’s really loud and boisterous, and they’re not going to care about our music, they’re just going to talk over the top at us at all our shows. Dare I say it, we almost had better crowds there than we do in Australia. Everyone was so excited that an Australian band had come over to play for them. We just had so much fun when we played there, and everyone is so lovely and they’re so thankful. So we’re looking forward to getting back to some of those places that we’ve played before. We always enjoy playing up in Canada as well, and New York’s always amazing because it’s New York. I think we’re playing in LA for the first time, our own headline show in LA."
Conquering the world.
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