PEI’s Paper Lions have a lot to be proud of. In the last year, the band wrote and produced two albums (a six-song acoustic EP and an as-yet-unreleased LP); hosted a successful Indiegogo campaign to help fund a trip out west; and performed a string of shows throughout Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. On top of all that, they gained international notoriety back in May when the years-old music video for their hit song “Travelling” went viral, reaching over 2 million hits on YouTube.
This fall, the guys are embarking on a coast-to-coast Canadian tour and, luckily for us, that includes a stop at Zaphod’s this Saturday night. WHERE Ottawa‘s Erica Eades chats with guitarist Colin Buchanan about his must-see Ottawa attractions, the band’s east coast roots, and their upcoming show in the nation’s capital.
You all grew up together in Belfast, PEI. What effect did this rural upbringing have on your work?
Oh, it’s the sheer reason we’re making music. We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t grow up where we did. There wasn’t much else to do, so we all started playing music together when we were in our early teens. We could make a lot of noise because we lived out in the country! Lyrically, all our songs, especially on our new record, are just about growing up in a rural community, and about us growing up together.
What challenges did you face beginning the band in this type of environment?
Belfast is a rural area, and Charlottetown, the capital of PEI, is still very, very small. We had to build a following territory by territory. We went from playing the Belfast Rec Centre, to Charlottetown, and then Halifax and Fredericton, and now into more foreign territories. I guess the biggest obstacle would just be all the driving. [laughs]
A lot of bands, upon reaching your level of success, move on to bigger cities like Halifax or Toronto. Why have you chosen to remain in your home province?
The conversation has definitely come up several times. But, you know, we like PEI. It’s really quiet, and they’re really supportive of what we do. I think a lot of that keeps us coming back. And just the pace in general works for us. I could see us maybe moving at some point, but we just like PEI too much – especially in the summertime.
Earlier this year you traveled to Vancouver to work with legendary music producer Howard Redekopp. What was that like?
Oh, Howard is great! I mean, there’s a reason why he has such a good name. I think he only really works with bands that he truly understands and has a personal kinship with already. So we were lucky to go into it feeling really comfortable with him. I think Howard is just a good pace, too. He’s not a slave-driver by any means; he keeps pretty modest hours, which works for us. We did a lot of the pre-production ourselves, so there weren’t too many changes by the time he came in. Anything that he did to steer us in the right direction seemed obvious in retrospect, but certainly wouldn’t have come about without him.
When will fans get to hear the final product? I’ve read it may be released as early as winter 2012.
It’s looking more like 2013 now, probably around February. That’s the loose date we’ve been throwing around, anyway. We always get ahead of ourselves and say dates and end up sort of backpedaling. There’s all kinds of label things that need to be put in place before you can actually release a record these days.
You’re currently in the middle of a national tour in support of your acoustic EP At Long Creek, which you released for free online earlier this summer. How’s that going so far?
Oh, it’s been great. We’ve been having time to go back home in between dates. We did a Pop Montreal and Ontario run, and then we were home for a couple of days. Then we were over in Newfoundland, and we were home for a few more days. Now we’re looking to get back out on the road. It’s been nice to sort of break it up in that way – we’re not going to run out of steam! [laughs]
You’ll be performing at Zaphod’s this Saturday night, along with Danielle Duval and Ashleys. What can audiences expect from this gig?
It’s going to be a Halloween show, I think! I can’t wait. We’re always on the road during Halloween, and we usually just end up getting something from Value Village at the last minute. But this time we actually got together and were like, ‘OK, we’ve got to get our Halloween ducks in order this time.’ So we’ve decided on costumes and we’re putting them together before we go on tour. It’s a far better idea.
Can you tell us what you’ll be dressing up as?
Oh, it’s going to be a surprise! But it’ll be pretty cool.
You’ve played the nation’s capital a number of times before. What do you guys like to do while you’re in town?
Well, we’ve gone to Parliament Hill and all that jazz before. We’ve taken in the sights, which is really awesome! It’s really cool to walk around and see all the old architecture.
I also have some friends that just moved to PEI who used to own a cafe in Ottawa, right beside Zaphod’s, called Oh So Good. I’ll probably pop in there and see what all the fuss is about.
Paper Lions play Zaphod’s on Saturday, Oct. 27. For ticket information visit Ticketweb.