Five Questions with Paper Lions

By Kirsti Salmi

Canadian indie fans, rejoice: P.E.I.-based Paper Lions are back with Full Colour, the latest instalment of their infectious brand of sunshine-soaked, synth-driven pop rock. You’ll have a chance to catch their new tunes at the Marina main stage on August 24 at 8 pm, when they make their first stop on the Full Colour tour. Singer and guitarist John MacPhee took a minute to catch up with The Walleye and talk recording process, fan sing-alongs, and touring traditions

Full ColourThe Walleye: Congrats on finally announcing your release date for Full Colour [Sept 16]! Thunder Bay is your first stop on the Full Colour tour, correct?

John MacPhee: Yes. We’ve been working on the new record for the last couple of years and stumbled onto a fresh approach to writing and recording. Traditionally, we would jam in the basement. This time around, we had access to a nice studio in Charlottetown and we were able to use it 9-5, kind of like a normal job. We brought little ideas to the studio, recorded them that day, then built on them. The record is a lot more ambitious in scope just because of that. Since the bar was raised for production and songwriting, we felt like we had to do the same with the live show. That show is what we’ll be bringing across the country this fall, and to Thunder Bay in a couple of weeks.

TW: What are you most excited about?

JM: Getting the new songs out in front of people. We’ve been sitting on them for so long. It’s very exciting to share new music and especially exciting to share it in a live setting. It adds a whole new energy to the songs that can’t be captured on a record. During our last show that we played in Toronto, we hit the bridge in “My Friend,” and it’s kind of a come-down moment. There was just this magical moment when the crowd took over singing—

TW: That’s my favourite moment at any show!

JM: It was an incredible moment! I had this realization: I’m not in control in this moment, this is everyone’s song right now. Those moments make touring really special.

TW: What can fans expect from Full Colour?

JM: I would describe the sound as being ‘bigger and brighter’. We knew that we didn’t want to hold anything back on this record. Traditionally when we’ve approached writing and producing there would be territories you just couldn’t go: people might think that song is too happy or sad, too rock or pop. That conversation didn’t happen this time around. We’d let each song go where it wanted to go, and we’d reserve judgement until it reached its destination. So Full Colour is the best and brightest version of each of those individual songs.

TW: Do you have a favourite part of the country to tour to?

JM: We have towns where we’re well known but there’s an unfair advantage: the energy is bigger because there are more people, and they know the songs better because they’ve been fans longer. But wherever we travel, if there are people singing and smiling and obviously having a good time, those are our favourite moments. And they happen in so many different places, to peg it on one city—I couldn’t do that.

TW: Do you guys have any funny road rituals on tour?

JM: The band went by a different name when we were teenagers: Chucky Danger. One of the only things that’s carried on over the years is that we’ll gather together and put our arms around each other and do a four-part harmony to ‘Chuck’.

Catch Paper Lions at Live on the Waterfront on August 24.