Paper Lions go where the music takes them

Photo by Dane Cutcliffe

Photo by Dane Cutcliffe

Music has taken Prince Edward Island indie-rockers, Paper Lions, all over the globe. Their latest album, Full Colour, is keeping them a little closer to home.

The band, currently on a coast-to-coast tour across Canada, is making a stopover at The Gateway in Calgary on Nov. 29.

“We’ve played at The Gateway the last couple times we’ve been here. The last couple of shows had a good amount of energy, with a nice mix of old and new fans,” said John MacPhee, guitarist, singer and co-founder of Paper Lions. 

“A more unique place that we played was in Shanghai. We were invited to perform there as part of the World Expo in 2010. We went as representatives of Canada, and that was just an incredible experience.”

Paper Lions has also played in a place where the general population doesn’t usually have the opportunity to see the light – or dark – of day, in Alert, Nun.

“It’s the closest thing to the North Pole, it’s the northernmost [permanent] human settlement on planet Earth. We flew into 24-hour darkness and blizzards. The buildings are even connected by wires so that one doesn’t get lost when going between them.

“We went up there to perform for Canadian troops for a Christmas tour. Citizens don’t normally go there because you can’t purchase a ticket to Alert. It’s usually just military and environmental scientists living and working up there.” 

The two trips didn’t inspire any songs according to MacPhee, but that doesn’t mean Paper Lions didn’t have plenty of ideas for the new record. 

The band took a very different approach to recording Full Colour than their previous releases, with a more impromptu style of writing. 

“When we got in the studio for the record, we were just writing songs and demoing them. That was sort of a new process for us, rather than writing songs as a band for a particular sound in mind.” 

Paper Lions have often taken a very guitar-centric sound, but this new style of writing changed this quite a bit. 

MacPhee said he put the guitar down for the most part on Full Colour, and focused more on singing, which he described as being more enjoyable for him. 

“The difference, sonically, resulted from this extra time that we had. There was less pressure to sound like a certain genre. We let each song go the direction we wanted it to go as we were developing it, without the context that a song has to fit into.

“That sort of lent itself to a poppier sounding record, but it wasn’t such a grand vision as a process of organic development over a period of time.” 

Paper Lions will be playing alongside HIGHS at The Gateway on Tuesday, Nov. 29. Admission is free with SAIT or ACAD student ID.

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