One proposal: a battle between the sprawling city and the college town for the right to call local rock quartet the Paper Lions their own.
"There's a total distinction between the two cities," says Paper Lions drummer Josh Lott. "But us referring to ourselves as both an Athens band and an Atlanta band, as weird as that sounds, they're both kind of true."
Lott, along with bassist Chris McNeal and guitarist Justin Snyder, live in Athens, while second guitarist Jesse Smith still inhabits the suburban Atlanta house where he grew up. But strengthening the big city's claim: Smith has recently taken up bass duties for Atlanta band the Carbonas, and together since the mid-'90s, Smith, McNeal and Snyder previously played in two other Atlanta-based bands: the emo-pop Kossabone Red and the post-hardcore Some Soviet Station. And Lott hails from the Atlanta 'burb of Stockbridge.
But, since the band began promoting its debut album The Symptom and the Sick late last year, it has adopted the nomadic lifestyle that comes with constant touring. Smith estimates the Paper Lions have played 100-120 shows since September 2002. Given that, Athens' lower cost of living, and the community of musicians of all genres and ages makes it a more ideal base of operations.
"I think the people [in Athens] can appreciate the determination to quit your real job and buy a van and do all those things," Lott says. "And there's that support group here regardless of what kind of music it is or even if you like the music."
The first 10 minutes of a Paper Lions performance is all it takes to prove they're worth fighting over. Through clanging guitar riffs, snickering lyrics delivered Fugazi-style and the tightly soldered rhythmic binding of the bass and drums, the Paper Lions light a fire under your ass and watch the smoke come out of your ears. It's not just their extreme intensity that makes them worthy to champion, but more their willingness to constantly improve.
In 2002, four shows into the band's existence, the guys entered an Athens studio to record their debut, The Symptom and the Sick. They delivered an album that represented their sound at half-volume, with the vocals sitting awkwardly over the taught instrumentation. "We were still trying to get a feel for what the songs were when we went into the studio, " says Lott. "I don't think any of us will ever want to do that again."
With that in mind, the band has taken its time with newer material, playing it live for the last six months and reworking songs throughout. "When we actually do go into the studio this next time and record these songs, it's just going to sound so much better than the first record," says Lott. "Symptom is all right -- I'm proud for where we were at then and doing that, but now I think we're just a completely different animal."
Not only will the next Paper Lions offering showcase a new band, it will most likely be released on a different imprint than their last. One of the ties that drew the Paper Lions to Athens became frayed in recent weeks, following the demise of esteemed local label Kindercore Records, which released Symptom. The band plans to record a demo in December and shop it to labels in search of a new deal.
But that doesn't mean the Lions will be running back to Atlanta. The city lacks the sense of an artistic community that the band cherishes in Athens. "I would love to see Atlanta have some kind of scene, cause it really hasn't had anything that was really cohesive ever, that I can think of," says Smith about the city's indie-rock community. "But, for the first time in a long time, it seems like there's a lot of bands that are actually doing something."
Nashville has more dive bars than ATL now that sucks. tbh i think that new…
*Christ, Lord sorry
"Punk" style like this seems like it is the polar opposite of punk. Bradford Cox…
They're kind of starting to look like a joke of themselves. Song's good though.
All 80s movies want you...