Interview #5: Papertones (English version)

1. First of all, can you briefly introduce yourselves and your roles in the band and tell us how you came together?

Tim: My name is Tim. I’m the rhythm guitarist in the band, apart from that, I also play acoustic guitar and I’m the singer.

Flo: I am Flo, the drummer and percussionist. I also play the cajón quite often when we play in pubs or something.

Nico: I’m Nico and I play electric guitar and what else is there to say? I am 27 years old. I’ve made it to 27!

Jessie: I’m Jessie and I play bass. Apart from that, I also have the recording equipment at my place. When we record something, I’m always there and sit at the laptop to record the guys. Afterwards, I always take care of the mixing and mastering.

Tim: About how we found each other:

Originally, I started the project as a singer and songwriter and was on the road solo. I played a lot in pubs, but the bigger gigs still tended to stay away. I used to record my songs with Jessie from time to time. We also studied together. That’s how we got in touch. Because he always brought a lot of ideas to the table, I asked him if he wanted to accompany me and for the time being the two of us made music under my name Tim Toenges.

Jessie also knew Nico, because the two of them had played music together before, in a metal band called Cinna. So we asked Nico because we needed a lead guitarist and took him on board. He added some cool new melodies and enriched the sound even more.

At some point we were at the Flying Grass Carpet in Tier. This is an event where a big grass carpet is laid out. We performed there and Flo was also there because he was still performing with another group at that time. We got to talking and it turned out that Flo was also looking for a band. We wanted a drummer to complete the lineup and Flo wanted to join, so he did. He made for an incredible addition because of the rhythm that came with his drumming and made it a lot more fun to play. Flo is also really good at jamming and got into it pretty quickly, so right after the first meeting, we said “Flo, you’re in”, which was really cool.

Then we were complete and we had to find a new name. That was a tour de force. You may think: “You can find a band name easily”, but it took us a lot of time and experimentation. At some point, we sat in a pub and thought about band names. Then there was crumpled paper on the table and two other friends were sitting there making origami, so we thought we’d call ourselves Papertowns. The name was already taken, so we changed it and thought that Papertones would also be a cool name because on the one hand, it fits the evening and on the other hand it reflects how sounds that are on a piece of paper are formed into something.

2. What kind of music do you play and are there any musical influences that have been particularly formative for you?
Tim: Nico!

Nico: We actually all come from post-hardcore and emo backgrounds. A lot of people used to listen to that, especially Jessie and me. Now we’re a bit more mature and have settled on indie rock. I think that sums it up best, although genre categories are all blurring these days anyway.

When we talked about it, Jessie was heavily into Sam Fender, Flo into Pink Floyd if I remember correctly, Cage The Elephant, Ben Howard, and singer-songwriters like that, I think those are the biggest influences. Also a bit of Alt-J. But I didn’t find it so easy to name all the influences, because everything from post-hardcore to indie is in there and flows together.

Tim: Exactly, that’s why we still say that it’s indie rock, because we can’t pin it down exactly. It is a bit more individual, I would say, not the classic indie rock or indie pop that you know, but something in that direction.

I think it also sounds a bit like folk in parts. It’s probably hard to break down what exactly it is, and in the end it’s music, but I think Indie Rock fits as a description.

Tim: Exactly, if we contact someone, we also say that we play a mixture of folk and indie rock with singer-songwriter elements. Or the other way around singer-songwriter with folk and indie rock elements.

Nico: I think the folk aspect also comes from the acoustic guitar, because that is increasingly being dropped in many indie rock bands. I think that gives the whole thing something more grounded.

Jessie: The background with Cinna is important because I also come from the metal scene. But at the same time, there was always a lot of pop-punk, such as Green Day, Sum 41 and Blink 182, but emo was also very big for me. I think you can also hear that in my songs, because they always sound a bit overblown. That’s always the criticism when I bring in something: that it sounds too much like a musical and we have to cut back a bit.
Lately I’ve been enjoying a lot of rhythm-driven indie pop, where the melody is in the foreground and brings a melancholic good mood with it. Besides Sam Fender, acts like Kraftclub and Von Wegen Lisbeth are also big influences for me at the moment.

3. Originally, the project started as Tim’s solo project as a singer and songwriter. To what extent has the songwriting changed through your development into a band? Is Tim still the driving force or do you bring your ideas together dynamically?

Tim: I would describe it as a creative process. Everyone can contribute ideas. At the beginning we played my songs, but then instrumental influences from the others came in, because they can play instruments that I can’t play and also have ideas that they can contribute.

Whoever has ideas can implement them. I still like to write the lyrics and actually work on them all the time. The others do that too and whoever has an idea is welcome to contribute. Then we work on them together and further develop them. We want to write more songs as a group in the future and have also arranged to not only rehearse but also work on songs together.

Nico: I think most of it has already been said, but we are also experimenting with different sounds and style changes. It was exciting to see where there are gaps that can be filled, where Jessie, who plays bass, also has room to play, for example. The fact that we can also pass the balls to each other and write music together brings the process to life and I think that’s also going very well so far. I’m also curious to see how it is going to continue and what else yet to come.

Tim: Exactly, nobody is limited or anything, but we say: “Hey, you know your instrument best, why don’t you play something with it?” That’s kind of the process.

Jessie: I think this question is quite exciting at the moment, because the four of us are in a process and it’s all developing right now. At the beginning, as I said, we rearranged Tim’s songs to be able to play them as a band. Now we want to develop in such a way that we throw the ideas into the room and discuss them together in order to make something out of them.

So everybody can contribute.

Jessie: Exactly. You can already tell that Tim is the voice. We write the songs so that they fit him. That is important. And because he also plays them on acoustic guitar and sings, he always brings his influence into it, which is a positive. But if you bring in an idea, you know it’s going to change.

The artwork of Blueprint by Papertones. Art by:

4. Was the recording process for the EP particularly challenging compared to the individual tracks you had released thus far? And did the complete band line-up play a role or did that make no difference to you?

Tim: Well, I can definitely say that I feel like doing a single for a change (laughs). The EP was a challenge, even though it was only five songs. It was something new for us, especially in that the songs on an EP have to fit together and all have a similar sound. It was all quite difficult for us. We put a lot of effort into the recordings and invested a lot of time and energy. We are very happy with what we have created, but at the same time it was very difficult to get it right.

Nico: Jessie directed the recording and the concept behind it and he also designed the framework. He decided which instruments we used in which song and so on. The recording process was an exciting experience that took a lot of time and energy, but it was also fun and educational. It was like slowly building a sculpture.

Tim: Yes, I think if we were to do it again, we would now also know much sooner what we wanted to do. It involved a lot of experimentation. We didn’t really have a concrete plan when we went into it, but were able to find ourselves through this EP.

Jessie: We had already released several songs on YouTube and Soundcloud previously. Those were easier, as we could record and release them independently. We could just put all our ideas into them. In Distance Is Calling, for example, there was a piano part, once a friend of us was involved, or there was some percussion.

Now on the EP, we wanted to create a standard for what we want to do and for what people can expect when they see us live. For me personally, it was a challenge to find the middle ground between things as we play them individually and the musical possibilities that come with the computer, without this all being too much. That’s why the EP was a bit more difficult with five songs that should sound coherent. On top of that, we were all in a state of upheaval at the time, so we could not meet as frequently as before. We had to spend most of our time with Tim, because he plays guitar and sings, so he takes over two of our five roles in the band. That was particularly time-consuming.

For me personally, it was also the first time that I wanted to record something as a whole. Before that, it was always just individual recordings. In Cinna we had also done it that way and released an EP, but back then, priorities were different and this time around, we had an entirely different focus.

Tim: Flo, do you want to say something about it?

Flo: I can’t think of that much. Most of the songs already had drums on them, but I had a couple of days with Jessie where I reworked them to sound the way I would play them. That was also a nice experience, especially because we hadn’t recorded the drums electronically or with microphones, but had programmed them. So it was interesting for me to see how loudly I play which notes, because I don’t pay much attention to that live. But it was definitely an experience that moved me forward.

Jessie: During the recording, everyone gets to know their instrument better and that’s really exciting. Flo had to learn how to use the program because he hadn’t done that before, so we had to get used to it, even though he can play the drums very well.

5. Blueprint has a maritime leitmotif, both in terms of the cover and the songs, for example Ocean – did you have a vision from the beginning of the creative process, did it come from the feeling of the songs or how did the beach feeling come about?

Tim: I think in that respect we were mainly trying to make the songs fit together. I think the maritime is something close to us all but it is also there due to my songwriting. It is not only the maritime that finds its way into my songwriting but also the longing that comes with it. Later we thought about what unites the songs and realised that it is the blueprint, the blueprint that is in all the songs and embodies the longing for the sea or tries to express something by using the it.

Nico: I think it fits well because the blueprint is also the basis for big buildings. I also think we had talked about it and realised that this blueprint is ambiguous. On the one hand blue, like water, but also this print aspect: “We are now building a foundation for what we want to do and what we are up for. That’s why we’re drawing a blueprint: to see what we can do and what we want” – That’s what we thought about.

Tim: Apart from that, the blueprint idea fit in well with our name. The fact that we also have this scheme in there fit perfectly, especially for the first EP, as we want create a certain image for us through the motif present in our name, an image that helps people to know what to expect from us and what’s to come in the future.

On the one hand, the blueprint reflects how you went into the writing process and tried to create a coherent sound throughout the EP, on the other hand, it creates a parallel to the band name through the title. And at the same time it touches on how formative this first EP is for you as a band.

Tim: You could sum it up like that.

Jessie: It wasn’t like we wrote the songs for the EP, but rather the other way around, meaning we had a wider selection of songs. After we had put the songs together, we came up with the logo, which has turned out nicely, and that also played a part in it. So one and one just came together without us having to control anything. Everything was just there and we put it together.

6. A question to the individual band members: Is there a song on the EP that you are particularly proud of and could you explain why?
Nico: I’ll just go first. I like Goodvibes the most because it has a bit of everything and even bits of the emo and post-hardcore vibes. It starts a bit dignified with melodies and nice lyrics and suddenly turns big and loud. Then follows the nice instrumental part after the chorus where the different melodies run against each other. I also like the solo melody at the end and then the song opens up again and we all get really loud again. I think the song sums us up well thematically and musically.

Tim: I think all the songs are very cool and I’m very proud of them. But what makes Ocean stick out to me personally, is that we all finished that one together. That’s where I think we collaborated the most. I like the sound as well, like all the songs, but there’s a different feeling connected to that song and that’s why I’m particularly proud of it.

Flo: I feel the same way about Ocean. I just have a cool feeling when we play it live and think that we have achieved something cool together. I think it’s a really cool song and I love playing it. It gives me a very nice feeling and when it comes to my favourite song, I go by it very strongly. It’s a bit hard for me to rationalise it, but that’s the song I like the most.

Nico: In Ocean, there’s also this great bridge that we’re always up for, even when we play live. There’s this awesome moment, this “Shalala” in the chorus. It’s just fun, because it’s so engaging.

Tim: In the end, we belt it out in such a way that you can feel it in your throat a bit. – Nico (laughs): Exactly, we all feel that one.

I liked Ocean the most, but also Colours and The Coast because I associate that travelling feeling with them and I felt that this conceptual aspect came out well in these songs.

Tim: It wasn’t thought through, but it goes together really well. Tim: In the interview you can say that it was conceptual (everyone laughs).

Then it all came together all the better.

Jessie: There are two sides to it for me. I wrote the instrumentals for Ocean and I like the story behind it. I had problems writing lyrics and so I approached Tim. He sent me a text without melody, chords and everything and I wrote the music to it. Afterwards he told me that it was exactly what he had in mind. Even the melody in the chorus was similar to the one he had in his head and I’m really proud of that.

When it comes to the sound, I also really like Alive because I really like the last chorus. I really love it when the melody takes over the vocals at the end and the voice still continues in a chant in the background, creating a canon. I think that’s what I’m most proud of, because it came together so well and the sound in this song is one of the most coherent ones.

7. As of now, is there a personal milestone or experience that means a lot to you and makes you proud?

Tim: That would definitely be the last gigs, because they went really well. Especially the “Stage 1” concert was fun. It had a good sound, people had fun and joined in. Another milestone will be that we will soon be able to play at two festivals. We’ll tease that as well.

Nico: But the EP is also a big milestone. When I was thinking about it again, I remembered the first gig we played with Flo. It was glorious. The whole pub was full and there was no more room. That was a great feeling.

Tim: That’s true. We had only rehearsed two or three times beforehand. So it was amazing that it went so well.

Flo: The first gig we did together was really great. I even had the feeling that the second and third ones went a bit less so, musically speaking, but at this first gig everything went really well.

But I’m also already proud of the things that are coming up now, including the festivals. It’s going to be a really cool experience and I’m already really proud that we have the chance to do it.

Congratulations on that.

Jessie: A milestone of course is the EP; that it all worked so well and came together. I can also present it and say, “I recorded that.” Other than that, for me, it’s also the logo design that came out recently. This project is getting bigger and bigger and we’re being hired for gigs. It’s not just making music with a bunch of dudes anymore, where you only spend time in the rehearsal room on a hobby basis.

That sounds great. And you have already been abroad, in France at a festival.

Jessie: Internationally known (laughs). I also think it’s cool to see where the people who listen to your music come from on Spotify. There are people from all over the world, from the United States, Greece, Morocco. I don’t know how that happened, but it’s nice to see.

8. What are your wishes and goals for the future?

Flo: When we were talking about that, we had also considered naming any concrete goals, but I’m more of the type who prefers to represent certain values and I think it’s important that we continue to have fun with this project, but also that we can continue to develop and do our thing and not stray from our path. I think that’s important and I wish us all that we continue to have fun with the music that we make and that it remains an enriching experience.

Tim: I also hope that we continue to have fun with music, work well together and create a lot of new, creative things together. If I had to name a concrete goal, I would say playing a festival like Rock Am Ring or Hurricane, Southside or something, something like that would be really cool.

Nico: That was my line! (Laughs) But yes, I can only agree. Of course I want to have fun, but Rock am Ring would be a dream, just to be on a big festival stage. Especially if everyone sings along and feels it.
Flo: We have a nice vision there.

Jessie: Another goal is to get more gigs and become better known in the scene. In the long run, one thing I’m really looking forward to, is being in front of an audience that can sing along to my songs, where the instruments stop sometimes and people can sing along to the lyrics.

9. Is there anything you would like to say to your followers?

Tim: There will be some new songs coming out little by little that we want to record now. We also want to shoot a new music video and release a single. We are motivated and will continue to play concerts. It’s getting bigger and bigger and it’s really cool.

Learn more about Papertones on Spotify, Instagram and YouTube:

Papertones on Spotify:

Papertones on Instagram:

Papertones on Youtube:

Published by sovlpvnk

On this blog, I talk about the alternative music scene and its ethics as well as LGBTQIAP+ -related topics. I mostly write about asexuality, political issues and their representation in media. Expect content in English and German once per month. Book and film reviews on my goodreads and letterboxd accounts: sovlpvnkblog and sovlpvnk.

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