INTERVIEW: Paper Route Talks About Cabins In The Middle Of Nowhere, Pre-Show Rituals, And The New Album 'Real Emotion'
    • TUESDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2016

    • Posted by: Mandi Dudek

    After their four-year hiatus, Nashville-based rock band, Paper Route, are back with their third studio album, Real Emotion, which was released at the end of September. In 2014, the band announced that their drummer, Gavin McDonald, would be leaving Paper Route and the other two band members, JT Daly and Chad Howart, decided to pull their touring guitarist, Nick Aranda, on-board.

    The addition of Nick Aranda to Paper Route combined with other life events during the four-year break resulted in the rawest and most vulnerable album that Paper Route has released. I was able to chat to JT Daly about Real Emotion, moving to the middle of nowhere, and how Nick Cave is JT's favorite artist of all time.

    Mandi Dudek: How's it going?

    JT Daly: Its good! We are actually in Nashville right now. We had our album release party last night, which was a very elaborate process and now we have to deconstruct it.

    M: How does it feel now that the album is out?

    JT: It feels weird - to be honest. I'm not too used to things going smoothly and things are going really well right now. It's a process to release an album and to use restraint on how much you pay attention to what people are saying about it. You have to and I'm a human being; I am curious to what people are saying and if people are connecting to it and believing it but at the same time, it doesn't really matter at all. This was important to me and this was real to me. This was exactly what we needed to do and were very proud of it. You release it and you move on.

    M: How long did the record take to create altogether?

    JT: All-in-all, I'd say a couple years. There was a lot of very large chapter changes during the process that elongated it. One being we lost a band member, another being we gained a band member. You kind of have to tour to remind everybody that you're still a band because the way this industry is setup now, theres just too many bands and people will forget about you the second you turn away from them. It's not really something that we connect with or understand. We're definitely more drawn to the artists who have more mystery and just do things however they want. We also realize that all of those artists that we love are large enough and far enough along or further along enough in their careers that they have that luxury to do that. I don't know where the argument stands but they got there because they did it that way or because of luck or whatever you want to call it. If time was on their side or if it was the right place at the right time but they were able to be the artist that they are and the artist that we love. But we've had to play the game a little bit more because we've been around for so long and were just far along enough in our career where were able to make enough money to pay the bills and make more records. It's been a balancing act really. Tell people were still a band / be a band. Tell people were still a band again / be a band. You know?

    M: Totally! So, after Gavin McDonald announced his departure from the band, how did you find your guitarist, Nick Aranda?

    JT: Nick had already been touring with us for years and it was an absolutely effortless staging of regard there. Nick is a blinding light of positivity and Chad and I are like the push and pull. I've been working with Chad for over a decade. I mean, this band has been Chad and I. He started making tracks and I started singing over them and we'd put them on Myspace and got a record. We've had a revolving past... or would that be a revolving door? How do you say that?

    M: *laughs* Revolving door totally makes sense to me.

    JT: *laughs* Ok, so we've had a revolving door of band members coming in and out that have really spoken into because of where we were at that time of our lives. It could not have been a better time to have Nick Aranda. He was a much needed piece to this puzzle and honestly this album would not be what it is without him.

    M: Were there any big challenges adjusting to a guitarist in the band?

    JT: No. It was actually effortless because Chad and I adore the guitar but we aren't guitarists. Whereas I'm a drummer and I program and Chad is an excellent programmer so a lot of times when we have drummers, we just have them play what we've already done. But with a guitar player, we are speaking in very vague terms and they have to go through the process with us to get whatever mystery tone it is that were going for.

    M: The album has a choral introduction. Was that always planned or was it a spontaneous experiment?

    JT: It was spontaneous because we have a song on the record called "Untitled" and we decided to add this choir to the end of it, which is a whole other story in itself. When that song was written - in this house we had found to get away from everything - we all knew that it would be the album intro. But when we played it for people that way, it seemed like "Untitled" opening the album might be a little slow. When we thought about it, we saw that perspective. We thought maybe an acapella intro would serve better. It sounds more powerful with voices stating that phrase, "Profess your love because a storm is about to come." It kind of sets the tone for the whole album and it does it in a way where it isn't a long ballad introducing everything.

    M: I love the intro to the album, it's so good. It seems like this record is a lot more vulnerable and intimate than your past work. Did a certain event inspire the raw emotions to come out for this record?

    JT: Well, you know, it's interesting because the more we have to talk about this album, the more I'm also learning about it. You're not really thinking about when youre in the middle of it. You're just doing you and making sure it's the truth. The more I look back, it really is just an album about mental health. For me personally, I was getting married and was dealing with the on and off again of medications, I think its just a hard thing to admit sometimes that I'm a better person while on my medications. And you can hear that process in the album and I think it's a statement to a lot of artists that sometimes use their mind as a crutch. They think that if they get healthy then they're going to lose an edge. I do think there's truth in that but I also think there's truth to the possibility of chasing your health to become even more creative.

    M: So you guys went to a cabin in Tennessee to write this record - which you actually did for your last record as well - was it the same cabin? And do you find it easier to write an album when youre essentially in the middle of nowhere?

    JT: No, it was a different cabin and we always try to do something like this. I think the people love hearing that and being like, "Whoa, you got away and there was nothing at all near you." Its kind of become a trend to make fun of that. It really is the way to work for us. We love finding homes that we have to adapt to. We've always made our albums in homes. We have a small studio in Nashville called Sun West and we tear it all down and move into these homes away from things. Because that's the best way to make things while you're in a bubble. Tying this back to what we were talking about earlier, the only edge you get from being unhealthy and being in the dark is your work ethic. I feel like when Im at my worst, the only thing I have is the creative process. When I'm healthy, I'm able to get darker and I'm not afraid to speak into the existence of certain things. But maybe that relentless drive dies down a little. We found that secluding ourselves from things puts you in a position where the environment is that creative process. All there is to do is create and theres nothing else around. It speaks into the album more than people realize. But they've all been different cabins - to answer your question. Every one of them has been different and each one has been incredibly creepy.


    M: I totally get what you're saying though. Living in New York, it's necessary to get away as often as possible to detox from all the distractions.

    Do you have a favorite track on this album?

    JT: "Real Emotion" is probably my favorite song we've ever done as a band. It best encompasses what we've been saying as a band for over a decade. It's the sum of Paper Route in one song and I just think it does what we've always tried to do. We've always wanted a mid-tempo song that doesnt feel too slow that you can walk to. It has that gritty rock feel that we all grew up on.

    M: Let's talk about your lovely wife for a second, Jordan Meredith (from The Saint Johns). The Saint Johns actually did a session in our Baeble office recently! Have you two ever thought about collaborating on music together?

    JT: We've written a few songs together but it definitely hasn't happened very naturally. We always joke about how we like to keep our worlds separate so that we dont speak them into them too much. There's nothing more fragile and sacred than the creative process and the only thing that - I think - aligns perfectly with that fragility and sacredness is a marriage. And at any point, those two things can change your life. There are very high highs and very low lows. Weve tried to tread lightly there. The Saint Johns were working with a bunch of producers and at one point, they asked me to work with them. So I did co-write and produce some of the songs that are on that album. Actually, the title track of their album is a song that I co-wrote with them. She always makes fun of me because I think the first time she heard our album all the way through was the day that it came out. I've had it finished for quite some time but I just don't play it or really share stuff with her unless she demands it.

    M: It must be interesting to live with someone you're married and you're both in the same industry, yet you have totally separate music lives.

    JT: Yeah, its bizarre. Everyone once in awhile, our tours will cross paths in the same city, which is cool. I would like to think we're the indie version of Jay-Z and Beyonce.


    JT: But we aren't worth over a billion dollars. No joint tour for us as of now. Maybe every once in awhile, something cool will happen because we are both in a band.

    M: Are you excited for the tour that begins in the middle of the month? Any specific city you're excited to visit?

    JT: Chicago is always so good to us. Chicago and St. Louis are two cities that have sort of adopted us throughout this process and they're always so good to us. They really helped break our band and going there is always a huge highlight.

    M: Do you have any pre-show rituals you guys like to do before going on-stage?

    JT: Yeah, we wear these in-ear monitors and Chad usually speaks in messages to all of us, which is hilarious. While were backstage, I'll usually be sipping on something that Leatherbee Distillery makes. Leatherbee is from Chicago and it's amazing. So, I'm usually sipping Leatherbee or Bullet and I'll have my in-ears on and then there's a countdown of five minutes. During the countdown, we will hear messages like, "blow out the candles" and stuff like that because we've realized its kind of depressing when you're on tour and you go into so many of these places and the backstage areas are horrendous. So our traveling guitar player used to bring this thing called the "Vibe Kit." And we set out candles that he makes and books and he will start playing music. He turns off all the overhead lights and it just feels so peaceful. So we have the countdown prepping us for the storm.

    M: Who are some of the artist that we'd find on your playlist right now?

    JT: Absolutely, hardcore. Mitsky is one of them. I adore her. I have so much respect for her and I love her newest album so much. I am really impressed with Grouplove's singles. Then my favorite artist of all-time, who is not for everyone, is Nick Cave. He's my favorite artist ever and his new album, Skeleton Tree is always on repeat for me and always in the background. I missed the film that coincided with the album because I was really busy with our album release but I'm hoping that I can catch it soon.

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