9:30 INTERVIEW: Darren Weiss, PAPA
Johnathan Blair [9:30]: If you could describe your music in three words to someone who had never previously listened before - which would you choose?
Darren Weiss [PAPA]: American, romantic, soul
JB [9:30]: Which artists have had the greatest influence on you musically? Which artists have had the greatest influence on your own mindset/persona/attitude with respect to performing live?
DW [PAPA]:The truth is, my influences are always changing intensely. I become completely obsessive over artists (musical, and otherwise) and for a time, really dedicate my whole mentality to trying live inside their work. But I know that Leonard Cohen never seems to go away from me, and the Clash have always been really important to the way this band operates and communicates. The artists who I’ve seen who’ve impacted my intentions the most as a performer (in the last 3 years) would be Patti Smith, Nick Cave, and Bruce Springsteen. These artists perform with such a sense of urgency, which in many ways is more important to me than passion or talent. No matter what the tempo, dynamic, or genre, seeing these people perform left me feeling real electricity running through my veins. Bruce Springsteen once said in an interview that he felt a performer should never expect anything from his or her audience, but instead should work to take the response that belongs to him. I always think of that before we walk on stage. In our band, we all came of age going to punk shows in Los Angeles. The energy was the absolute most important thing I took away from those experiences. Punk, above all, is an energy, and it’s always living inside what I do.
JB [9:30]: You’re currently supporting Cold War Kids - did you all know each other before this tour? How did you connect? How are they as tour mates?
DW [PAPA]:Yeah, we’ve been having a really cool time with these guys over the last few months. We had never met before actually, but they’re great tour mates, and have become friends of ours.
JB [9:30]: Which stop on tour are you most looking forward to? Any cities you have previously never played that you are excited about visiting?
DW [PAPA]: Well after we finish this east coast run with Cold War Kids, we’re stopping over in Iceland for a few days to play a festival before going to Europe. None of us have ever been there, and it’s always exciting to bring our energy and our culture to a completely new place. I can’t wait to see what that show is going to be like.
JB [9:30]: Tender Madness has a much bigger sound to it cohesively than some of your previous work (A Good Woman Is Hard To Find). Do you attribute this to personal experiences? Or more of a natural development as you continued to play and record together?
DW [PAPA]: Both. We definitely had more clear intentions when working on our full length. The EP kind of came together, but for this record there were definite things I wanted to convey, portraits I wanted to illustrate, frustrations I needed to air. We’ve also been touring and working as band together in a much more intense way since the release of our EP, so I think the combination of traveling together, seeing all kinds of things together, and through these experiences, knowing what we wanted, and more importantly, what we wanted to stay away from.
JB [9:30]: Follow up - Is a good woman truly that hard to find? Have you finally found good women?
DW [PAPA]: A good woman is truly that hard to find. But it’s not all on them. The name of my book that just came out is “The Only Thing Worse Than A Woman Is A Man,” so we’re all a little fucked up these days. But yes, I have found a good woman. So I’ll hold on tight.
JB [9:30]: Drummers as singers - so rare! We love it, and it’s not a natural pairing. Which came first for you? Was there a sort of initial rehearsal period to combine the two without stumbling live - we can imagine that’s no easy feat.
DW [PAPA]: Drumming definitely came first. I don’t even really consider myself a singer. I only started singing because I was writing songs that wouldn’t make sense for other people to sing, so I sang them. But when I first performed the early PAPA songs, I was going out as a solo folk kind of thing. Just me and my acoustic guitar, and I’d stomp out the rhythms with my boots. But I knew I wanted the music and the live set to be more electric, more kinetic. I tried putting a couple line ups together with me and my guitar in front, but it just didn’t convey what I needed it to. I’m much more a drummer than I am a guitar player, so just like I starting singing out of a feeling of necessity, I started drumming and singing out of necessity. Once I started doing it, everything started falling into place. It all made more sense to me. But I definitely had to work hard to get it right. I’m still working it out every night.
JB [9:30]: Girls was a great band, we had the pleasure of hosting you all a few years back, and we were definitely to hear about the break up. It had a sound that was great, but also felt like it was still on the verge of really hitting its stride - While in comparison, even early tracks/recordings from PAPA seem incredibly tight and fully-realized. How has PAPA allowed you to explore your expression as an artist more completely? Did your time in Girls and collaborating with the members of that band influence this project at all?
DW [PAPA]: Thanks, yeah PAPA was actually first of three on that bill with No Bunny and Girls a few years ago, and we all remember it as a great night. I will say that in Girls, I really was only a drummer. I did not help Christopher with any songwriting. But I did pay close attention, as I do anytime I work with an artist I respect. I think working on recordings with Girls, and seeing the connection to the material live all across the globe did have a really important impact on my own song writing, with lyrics in particular. It made me want to be more directly honest. To be less fearful about being vulnerable. Even though I love instrumental music, and I love experimental music, and avant garde poetry, my experiences have made me realize the true power of an honest song, that speaks any truth clearly and proudly.
JB [9:30]: The video for ‘Young Rut' is fantastic - a pair of pants falls in love with a shirt at a laundromat, and romance ensues. What was the inspiration behind this video or how did you come up with the concept? Was it your idea or the idea of a director?
DW [PAPA]: Thank you. This was the first video we’ve done where we accepted treatments from outside parties. In the past, we’ve always come up with an aesthetic and concept, but for this one we were interested in hearing somebody else’s interpretation of the lyrics, so this time around, it was our director Norton who brought the right idea. We’re really happy with the way it came out.
JB [9:30]: While we are on the topic of videos, the video for ‘Put Me To Work' is also fantastic! At one point, you have lights in your beard, and are wielding a flaming axe - how much fun was that video to shoot?
DW [PAPA]: When we we’re sitting around with our friend Jonathan Hausfater (the director of our first three videos) Danny and I each had one idea that was important for us. I saw myself in overalls swinging a flaming axe, and Danny saw himself in a skeleton costume. A lot of the time, that’s how things get done with us. One image will set the spark for a creative onslaught.
JB [9:30]: How excited are you to headline, for the second leg of your tour? How will your live set expand/vary from support to headlining shows?
DW [PAPA]: It’s always fun to go out and do our own shows. Even when we don’t get to play to as many people, or in as nice of venues as when we’re opening shows, there is something we really love about taking the night to be our own. There’s a sense of ownership there, and that means anything is possible, and it’s us to make it happen.
PAPA support Cold War Kids on October 24th (SOLD OUT!) & October 25th.
Get hip! Grab a FREE DL from PAPA here.