Thursday, March 31, 2011

Papercuts enlist a helping hand for new record

Posted By on Thu, Mar 31, 2011 at 12:41 PM

Papercuts.jpg

You know someone like Jason Quever. Not a loner, not anti-social, not a control freak — just always comfortable and most effective working on their own, thankyouverymuch. Quever, the creative nucleus of San Francisco-based indie-rockers Papercuts, had to let go a little on his upcoming Sub-Pop release, enlisting the help of an outside producer — and an outside studio, for that matter — for the first time. The chosen hand was Thom Monahan (Devendra Banhart, Vetiver, The Pernice Brothers), and the result is Fading Parade, the next logical step in his glimmering, ornate pop discography. Quever was understandably nervous, placing a process that’s been all his own in someone else’s hands (albeit, quite able hands) for the first time. But for all that could have gone wrong, nearly everything went right. Jason Quever’s figured it out: Sometimes letting go of a little can get you a lot in return.

What was it like working with a producer this time, particularly one of Thom Monohan’s stature? Was it a challenge to allow someone else to control what’s typically been just your process?
Jason Quever: It was actually really cool. I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew that I would probably benefit from not doing everything myself. As it went on, I was just really excited with what he was doing, and he still let me get the sounds I wanted and what not. The best part for me was that as soon as we started progressing in the record, I didn’t feel nearly as exhausted as usual.

So what sounds different about this one?
JQ: I’m not so great at knowing the answer to that question because usually when it’s done, I’m so exhausted of it that I don’t really know how to look at it. But someone told me it was still very “wall-of-soundy,” and in in my mind it’s a lot clearer. There’s hopefully a little more space for everything. Before, a lot of things were kind of a jumble. Hopefully it’s got a little more dynamics because we had someone sort of making sure we were playing a certain way.

Where did you make the most effort to improve for this record?
JQ: I got more into lyrical structure. [My first record’s] big weakness is that I didn’t really proofread anything (laughs). The one after that I got into lyrical structure a little bit more. But between now and the last one I felt myself getting excited more when I was recording. It just had more of a triumphant feeling to it. I felt like there was more energy and more punctuation. I think I got into a bit of a depressed and dark place on the last record that I’m not in on this one. Even the dark songs on this record have a little bit more punctuation.

Every time you write, what’s an underlying emotion you can’t shake?

JQ: Hopeful. I don’t do it unless I feel positive and optimistic. I want it to be a positive thing. My records are always a representation of the most positive statement I can make about that time in my life within my own limitations. So I hope that transfers out. Maybe you know it’s born of some struggle but I always want it to be a positive statement even if there’s a negative statement underneath.

Are you thinking about those listeners, and their reactions to your music, when you’re writing? Or is that a dangerous game to play?
JQ: You just have to do it in subtle ways, and it has to be tempered. It can’t take over anything. You just have to make records that you and your friends like and hope you it’s not abnormal, and hope that your tastes are representative enough that people will like it enough to make another record. And if someone thinks I made a wrong move, I’ll listen to them and think if I agree. But you have to hope that you’re taken away enough by what your’e doing that you don’t get swept up in all that. I think that’s the big diference between being inspired and just saying ‘hey, I should write something because I have a free day and I need a new song.’ I’ve written a lot of really bad songs that come out when I’m in that sort of mood or mindset.

Which phase of making a record do you like the most?
JQ: To me, it’s the writing process. That to me is the feeling that is the best. And that’s when I feel the most hopeful and like the sky is the limit. Recording is fun, and I love it, but it’s also the time where you have to accept the reality of making recordings (laughs).

What are some of your influences that might surprise people?
JQ: Some of them, possibly, might not be obvious. It’s hard to know what people think (laughs). I think in general when people ask what I’ve been listening to or what has influenced a record, the answer isn’t always what they expect. I listen to a lot of older soul music, but I feel like a lot of poeple do, so that might not be shocking. I guess there’s Bo Diddley and things like that...we definitely don’t sound like that. But I love pop music, too. Madonna, and things like that. Maybe that’s shocking? Though I think people’s minds have opened up now. It used to be harder to just say that you like bubble gum pop - now a lot of people do.

Do you feel more like band these days? Or still more like a solo artist with backing musicians?
JQ: I feel more like a band now, but it’s still rotating. I’m totally open to people coming and going. I think there’s a certain longeivity you can achieve when people’s lives can intersect and go away from a band, whereas if you have to breakup because it’s not the same four people, ya know? I would love to be in a collaborative band, but the right one just hasn’t hit me over the head yet.

What are you like when you’re on tour?
JQ: The thing that comes to mind is that I drink a lot on tour. It’s the medication of being on tour. I’m trying to figure out whether or not I can live without doing that, cause I don’t really drink that much at home. I listen to music, and luckily I have four other people who are really funny. There’s always a place to be or something to do.

Are you excited about releasing records into today’s industry?
JQ: I think it’s exciting that people’s mind seem to be pretty open right now about music and people are exposed to so much music that it creates kind of wide boundaries. I’m exicted to see that go further with us and with other poeple. A byproduct of people not buying records is that the live show is becoming even more important again. But obviously the downside is that it’s hard to make a living not selling records (laughs).

What are you most excited about with where this band has gotten and where it’s got the potential to go in the coming months?
JQ: It’s fun to have a big band and play the record right. It’s the first time that I can walk off stage and say ‘yes, that was everything that was supposed to be in that song.’

Papercuts with Banjo or Freakout. $10. 9:00 p.m. Fri., Apr. 1. The Earl, 488 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com

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