Paper Tongues are an American rock band from Charlotte, North Carolina. The band consists of Aswan North (lead vocals), Devin Forbes (guitar), Joey Signa (guitar), Daniel Santell (bass guitar), Jordan Hardee (drums), Clayton Simon (synthesizer keys), and Cody Blackler (rhode keys). Their sound is described as fusing rock n’ roll melodies with hip hop beats, and includes elements of rock, funk, rap, and soul.
The group formed in 2007 when a few musicians with very different musical backgrounds decided to start a band. After playing together for a while, they decided they wanted to go to California to try and get a recording contract. This inspired their hit song “Ride To California“, which portrays the struggle involved to raise the money and find a way out there. They were able to save up enough money through donations from neighbors and a generous donation from a college friend in Georgia who told them not to worry about paying them back, but rather to just go and make good music. When they finally got to California, a chance encounter with a well known producer ended up resulting in a contract.
While eating lunch at a restaurant in Los Angeles, lead singer Aswan North met Randy Jackson. He went over to talk to him about his band, and even gave him the band’s MySpace site and phone number, and then left. Within hours of leaving the restaurant, the band received a call from Jackson expressing interest in their music. They have since supported other bands such as Everclear, Flyleaf, and Switchfoot, as well as headlining a tour of their own with Crash Kings and playing various other shows with Muse, AFI, 30 Seconds to Mars, Rise Against, and Anberlin.
Paper Tongues is no stranger to Hollywood Dame – We’ve featured them on the website before, both as an interview and as a part of our New Music Friday feature, but now their back with a brand new sit-down interview, answering questions about their pet-peeves, how they stay grounded, and their future plans. You can read about that below.
Was there ever a time where you felt like giving up music or quitting on the way to the top?
Cody: Well, yeah. There were a lot of hard times that left us with a disheartening feeling. But you just keep pushing and pushing and thankfully we have lots of friends and family who believe in us. We’re all like brothers, so we just keep working hard and are very committed in our hearts even though we feel wore out at times, but when we get a break we utilize it – get plenty of rest – and we’re ready to go again.
Being in a group can be overwhelming at times when trying to please everyone. How do you keep the balance?
Joey: I think we’re just really honest with each other. And I think we don’t necessarily feel like we have to please each other. We’re more like a family of brothers. We’re all just ourselves but we’re also just respectful of each other. I think we’re honest with each other, and we work through stuff when we have to. We don’t hide stuff, we don’t keep stuff under rugs so there’s not hidden build-ups and stuff like that. I think we treat it more like a family than a workplace, which helps in the long run.
Have you written or created a song that didn’t make the album cut that you wish would have?
Aswan: Yes. There are a lot of songs that we all love that did not make this album. The cool thing is we probably have about 15 songs when it comes to record number 2 already prerecorded to look at. And 8 songs for record number 3. I’m sure we’re gonna write tons more that are going to make the records so those 15 are not necessarily on there. There’s a song that we love, all of us, called “Promise” that we wanted to make the record. We unanimously as a band all collectively love that song and all wanted that song to make it. That song didn’t make it. During the development stages of another song we were all rooting for it but I think we could tell by the time we got our 3rd demo of it that it just wasn’t ready so our heart wasn’t really broke. There is another song that we got just in doodling mode, “Extra Extra,” that I personally wish would have made the record. Its an amazing song that I think it shows off just who we are even more than you get to see on this record personally just coming out but it still needs a lot of work. I think we were able to display on this first record just who we were and we feel like that was 4 years ago, and its fine because it’s our first record but by the time we do our second record I think we’re gonna be feeling like we’re in the present of it more than we are on this one because it took so long to produce and create and lock in.
Do you guys have any pet-peeves musical or band wise?
Cody: Yes. I don’t know if this is a pet-peeve, but I like to play real instruments like my fender rhodes. I don’t like when people tell me to play fake things.
Aswan: Like the tambourine? That’s a real instrument.
Cody: No no, I love the tambourine. I just prefer the rhodes and real things like that as to digital things. Another pet-peeve, you know its kinda gross… in our bathroom, when people pee in there and leave the seat up, the aroma fills the whole bathroom and there’s like a urine mist.
Devin: Musical pet-peeves, when people don’t roll their cables right. When cables are a mess it makes me want to throw up. It sounds really dumb but I’m serious. I can’t handle it when cables are a mess.
Jordan: I hate being woken up, and I hate hitting my knuckles on my snare drum cause it hurts.
Danny: I hate creasing my shoes when I perform.
Aswan: I don’t like that either.
Besides music, what are your favorite things to do and what keeps you grounded?
Aswan: I like to watch ‘Frasier’ and ‘Seinfeld.’ That keeps me grounded at night. That’s my bedtime stories. My all-time bedtime story is the movie ‘Elf.’ I’ve literally watched it over – I think its safe now to say 150 times and I can give you quotes right now if I needed to but not cause I want to its just because I’ve watched it so many times that I know everything that is going on in that movie. It’s a bedtime story so those are my things.
Joey: I think what keeps me grounded is coming home and seeing family and friends because they treat me like I’m the exact same and I am the exact same but it just helps me realize that, cause when you’re out on the road and you’re in all these meetings and parties or whatever, its easy to get in your own world so coming home to where everything is basically the same kinda helps me find my balance of the ground.
Clayton: I would say the same as Joey – Friends and family and stuff, but also for me I need to get outside when I’m off tour and go find a garden somewhere or a yard and do yard work. I’m serious, and it really actually helps my mind get clear and me to think. And, for whatever reason, when I get home I like to organize things. It helps me think about things more clearly, and that’s just my personal thing.
Danny: I love to listen to music when I’m not playing music. I honestly love falling asleep to music, any style of music. I love hanging out with friends. And I love when I do something wrong that this band disciplines me really well.
Jordan: What I like to do, and what keeps me grounded when I’m home, is to get on the open road on a 2005 Harley Davidson Sportster and just go 85mph, let my hair blow in the wind.
Cody: I like to run, I like to play soccer, I like to play football sometimes, and I like to watch movies.
Devin: I always bring my bike and some books on the road with me and when I need to get away I ride my bike to somewhere, coffee shops, and sit and read a book and drink coffee.
What do you miss most, besides family, while you are out traveling and working?
Cody: I miss just being able to go home and crash on the couch and just being able to have space around you in a regular home and being able to cook really good food in a real kitchen and eat it.
Joey: I don’t miss anything. I love being on the road.
Clayton: I miss sometimes just being completely by myself for a little while, like a day or two. And then I miss, the same as Cody, cooking.
Devin: I miss any sort of consistency in life like being able to do reoccurring things everyday. Like when I’m home I like to go certain places regularly and when you’re on the road there’s no consistency to anything. Everyday is kinda up in the air and it’s just hard to have that consistency.
Who do you guys dream of being interviewed by (other than Hollywood Dame, of course!)
Devin: Oh! Hollywood Dame!
Cody: I would love to be interviewed by Barbara Walters.
Danny: I would really want to be interviewed by Gwen Stefani.
Aswan: I’d love for us to be interviewed by Larry King. You know, go on ‘Larry King Live’ and definitely do Oprah Winfrey. Gotta be on the Oprah show. That would be really awesome.
Devin: One day, I would love to be interviewed by James Lipton.
Jordan: Bob Barker.
What is one accomplishment you hope to make above all others in your life and career?
Aswan: Honestly with our career, I’ll start there, we want to walk in the footsteps of U2, you know. That’s a hard thing for a band to say cause they are the greatest band on earth in a lot of regards such as what they’ve done with their music and how they’ve even lent their music to some of the greatest disaster relief programs in the world. And just the help that they have brought to African countries – it’s just been amazing. Though our goal and our dream would be to walk in their footsteps, to live out our lives in music the way they did and the way they do. They’re still here and they’re still doing it. We’d love to be, when we’re 50 and we’re 60 and 70, to say that we’re still here and we’re still doing it. I think personally each guy in this band has a different thing but I can say something about all these guys is that every man wants to know before his life is over that he’s been faithful with everything that he’s been entrusted with, with every gift and every blessing.
If you weren’t in the music field, what careers would you have chosen?
Danny: I would love to be a weatherman one day, still.
Jordan: I thought about being a Navy Seal but then I realized that I didn’t have the lung capacity.
Cody: I was planning on being a doctor or a chef.
Devin: I was possibly going to follow in my fathers footsteps and be a contractor. Maybe work with concrete, different types of mud. Or I was gonna stay in school, study English, and write books and be a teacher.
Joey: I was on my way to being in the music industry either way as a musician or as another facet of it, but one day I’m probably going to open a coffee shop or a venue. Probably definitely a venue.
Clayton: Before all this happened, I was planning on going into architectural design, but I also dreamed of being a storm chaser actually.
Aswan: Wow, never heard that one. For me, its always been music, will always be music. There was ever only going to be music. There is no other imagination or thought. This is it, period.
What’s next for you, short-term and long-term?
Aswan: Well for the band, short-term we’re getting ready to go play Bonnaroo, to let all the peeps know that honestly. We’ll be on the ‘George Lopez’ show Monday night. Everybody’s excited about that. And then after we get done with Bonnaroo, we’re coming back and doing a real big tour around the country with Civil Twilight and Neon Trees. We’ve got some other really big invites to do some openings for some huge bands, and there’s 3 that we’re really cool with and we love and we appreciate, so we’re not going to let that out of the bag until our management team decides who we’re going with cause we’d love to go with everybody. So that’s our short-term right now is to just keep on touring and keep on playing and taking these dates that’s been offered to us and to show up and do our job. Long-term we definitely would love to sell quite a few records. We don’t want to give out our personal number because its too big and audacious but it is a big number of the kinds of records that we would love to sell all over the world. We want to be an international band. We want to be known all around the world and we want to be able to travel the world. We want to play this music in Asia, in Europe, and we want to play this music in Australia. We want to go to a lot of places and play our music, and so that’s the long-term goal. Hopefully we can get to there soon.
A very special thank you goes out to Paper Tongues and their management team for taking the time to sit-down with me and making this interview happen!
iTunes Buy Link: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/paper-tongues/id364197082
Official Page: www.papertongues.ning.com