On December 30th, 2017, I had the opportunity to sit down with staff photographer Justin Barnett and the band Paperback. Paperback is a punk/rock, self-proclaimed sad rock band based out of North Carolina, with one album produced and another set to be in the works later in 2018. Noted in this interview are interviewers Ross Barnes (RB) and Justin Barnett (JB) and band members Jonathon Owens (JO), Caleb Hogue (CH), Owen Smith (OS), and Alex Tedesco (AT).
RB: How long have you all been playing together and how did you all meet?
JO: Coming up on two years. Funny story about that, I had known Caleb from playing in various hardcore bands. Owen I met through church, and Alex, I met him through Facebook on, like, a basement DIY musician page.
RB: Okay, so I’m really curious about the whole online page meeting thing. How did that happen?
AT: We were auditioning for a different band, him on drums, me on bass, and neither one of us liked the direction that was going.
JO: But we were vibing with each other so the next day I hit him up and was like, “Hey, you want to join this band that I’m in called Paperback?” And I sent him some of the demos we were working on, and he just said, “Sure!” So that’s how that all went. So we were a three piece before and I was on bass, so I told [Alex], “Hey, bring your guitar because mine’s acting up.” Just to see how that would all turn out.
RB: You mentioned that you had demos beforehand, so could you walk me through how the basic writing process for you works?
JO: So the basic writing process is that I’ll have the skeleton of a song and bring it to practice, everybody will put their own spin on it, and we’ll work on the song together.
CH: It’s evolved a lot from the beginning where Jonathon had practically written a whole EP on his own, about six or seven songs, before approaching me or Owen and before we ever met Alex. We all put our own spin on it and worked it out together. Since then, we’ve been writing together and it’s been giving a very different sound, and it’s full and we’re excited to get ready to start playing a whole new slough of stuff.
RB: Collectively, what would you say your influences are?
CH: It’s really nice to see the intersects of the bands that we really, really enjoy, and one of those intersects are Queens of the Stone Age. You don’t really hear it in our music, but it’s a big band that we all listen to and pull inspiration from.
RB: Do you have any favorite shows that you’ve played?
JO: My favorite show that we’ve played this year was in Kalamazoo, Michigan, at this place called Headquarters, which is a house venue. From the moment we got there, they were really nice to us, they cooked us dinner, and they gave us free beer, and the show was great. We tend to prefer shows like house parties and shows of that nature. We’ve once been described as the best house party band.
CH: Westview House in Boone. In fact the last show we played there, we have some footage in our new music video, and it was their last show, because shows have just gotten crazier and crazier for them, and they just had to shut it down. The energy at that show was just great.
OS: Oh let’s see, it was another Westview show, we played there on my birthday and it wasn’t, like, a planned thing, but it just kind of happened that way. We usually play first or last but this was one of the few times where we got a really good time slot and just, it was the first time that a lot of people heard us there for the first time. It was a great environment.
AT: I guess mine was the fundraiser we played at Westview House and, based on the money that we raised, there were at least 200 people that filtered in throughout the day. It was just a big, hot, sweaty mess and it was a ton of fun. A close second would be when we played in Columbia, South Carolina, and I broke my nose in the crowd. So my bass had just cut out at a point and we usually try to make it look cool when we have technical problems, so I just throw down my bass and jump into the pit. It was wild.
JB: How is your music received in rural areas compared to big city areas?
JO: Usually in rural areas we’re received very well because, in terms of lyrical content, kids in the areas don’t really have the opportunity to bond with our kind of music, so they definitely appreciate it. We’re definitely received well in urban areas too, but the way it always works out is at any given night there’s probably ten or more shows going on in a night in a big metropolitan area, and the people tend to just compare us to bands they’ve listened to before. So both receive us well, but in rural areas, people seem more excited to see a band like us.
RB: Okay, so here’s a spot where I want to get a little weird with my questions. One of my favorite things to do is ask a band a question that they’re not expecting. If you could describe your music with your other senses, how would you? Like how does your music smell, or how does it taste?
AT: So if you would take a fresh cherry cobbler, and plug it in to the wall, like, just run 150 or 200 volts into it. That’s what our music would smell like.
OS: Sounds about right, something like that. That plus butter.
JO: Maybe if you throw a reverb pedal into the cherry pie, too.
CH: I definitely think we taste like a piece of beef jerky, but it’s, like, open but it’s not and it’s just been sitting in a jacket pocket since, like, last season.
JO: I was just going to say we taste like mac and cheese.
RB: Last question, because it slipped my mind until now. Who do you record with?
JO: The man, he’s just the man. Brandon Hamby at Dead Peasant Studio. He’s a great guy and he will work with you and let you play around until you get the sound you want and he’s just all-around fantastic.
During the interview, I asked each of the members of Paperback to list out their top three-ish favorite bands they’ve ever played with. I’ve compiled their responses into a list for your browsing pleasure if you would like to expand your music tastes into the realms of rock, hardcore, punk, and similar genres.
Sam Henjum Anderson
The Business People
Paperback can be found on Facebook at @ncsadrock and all other social media at @paperbacknc. You can find their debut EP, Guilty Veins, on Bandcamp at paperbacknc.bandcamp.com. I also highly advise checking out their most recent single, “Growing Pains,” via their Facebook page.