Track Premiere + Interview: Paper Thin – “Japan Song”
Now is a pretty sweet time to be a part of the Aussie alternative scene. We’re seeing local legends drop album announcements and label deals left, right and centre, and there’s certainly no shortage of up-and-coming killers slashing their way to the top with sick tunes and sicker pits. Cue: Paper Thin; they’ve only been around for a couple of months, but already, the Newy pop-punks are at the top of our ‘to keep an eye on’ list.
So who are Paper Thin? Formed all the way back in April ’16 (yeah, they’re pretty much veterans), the project brings together singer/songwriter Spencer Scott with members of local faves Adeline Pines, Jen Buxton & The Slaughterhouse Five and Crystal Cove. Their sound is somewhere between The Smith Street Band, Tigers Jaw and Taking Back Sunday – deep and moody, but all kinds of fun and super easy to lie back and get lost in.
Their debut EP – a self-titled affair, of course – is set to drop next Tuesday, August 9th via Lost Boy Records. It’s a short, but hella sweet slab of jangly pop-punk, corrosive emo and vibe-heavy indie rock, slathered in heart and rough around the edges in only the most comforting of ways.
Because we’re just too keen on the 5-track beast and know nothing of the word ‘patience’, the band have given us an exclusive jump on “Japan Song”, the EP’s jammy, upbeat outlier track. It joins “State Of Your Life, Mate” and “Hotel Spencer” as the third cut you can listen to right the fuck now, but for the other two – which, trust us, you basically need in your life – we’d advise sussing out the pre-order details at the bottom of the page.
To celebrate the EP’s release, Paper Thin are playing two massive shows at the Hamilton Station Hotel in Newcastle – they’re both free, too, so there’s really no excuse not to go and get your punk jumps on!
So before we jump into “Japan Song”, who are Paper Thin and why are they all up in my radios outta nowhere?
Spencer Scott [bass/vocals]: I recently moved back to Newcastle and was hanging out a bunch with Wil. We were talking about doing a sort of emo/pop-punk band together. When we were thinking about people to ask, Liam and Aidan were our first choices.
William Houlcroft [guitar]: I’ve been lucky enough to have everyone in my life for at least a few years now. It actually only feels like a few weeks ago that we first voiced this idea, so it’s a little crazy how quickly it all came together.
Liam Tobin [drums]: When I was asked if I wanted to play some drums in an emo/pop-punk thing with these guys, it was a no brainer. It was always going to be fun, but when we got together and played, it was also really nice how it all clicked musically.
Aidan Roe [guitar/vocals]: Wil asked me if I wanted to come and play guitar, and when he told me it was with Spencer and Liam, I was stoked. I’ve seen Spencer play his solo stuff all over Newcastle in the last few years, and I’ve seen Liam drum in numerous bands since I was 16-17 years old. I’ve actually told Wil a few times that I’d love to see a band behind Spencer and here we are!
The self-titled EP drops in just over a week! How did it all go putting all the pieces of this puzzle together?
Spencer: We recorded with Geoff Mullard at Rock The Nation Studios, which was amazing. Geoff and RTN are responsible for so many of my favourite records out of Newcastle: Jen Buxton, Conation and Summer Policy to name just a few.
William: I think this is the third or fourth thing I’ve been involved in recording at RTN with Mullard in the last few years. He makes me feel at home and makes me want to play my best – and we get on well enough that he’ll tell me when I don’t.
Aidan: We recorded all the music live in the same room, and then vocals after that. It felt really natural, as it was a similar set up to how we rehearse, but with a dozen microphones capturing it all and everyone was cheering each other on and getting through the challenges of recording live. Geoff was awesome and basically let us do what we do while he pushed the buttons upstairs.
All four of you are definitely no strangers to the alternative scene. What are some things from your previous projects that you specifically wanted to bring to Paper Thin?
Spencer: I was really keen to be able to work on some songs that went beyond one voice and one guitar. My only other major experience was playing in a hardcore punk band (Family Values), so this is basically my Weakerthans.
Liam: Having a background playing in a range of bands from young punk rock/emo/hardcore with over-the-top drum parts and jamming as much into it as you could – to sad country folk songs where you try to only give the song what it needs and sit in the pocket a bit more – Paper Thin seemed to be a sort of middle ground where I could combine the best of both approaches. Otherwise the goal for me is always to make music that you’d actually want to listen to and excited to get to play onstage.
Aidan: My previous experiences with bands have mainly been playing bass and singing backup vocals, so I’m looking forward to focusing more on being involved with the songwriting process and bringing some of my ideas/half-worked out songs to the table. I think as a whole, we have a lot of experience being in a band environment, and we’ve spoken about bringing all of those positive experiences to the table – trying to learn and progress further than we have before.
Liam: The best bands are with people that you’re stoked to be hanging out with. The fact that these guys also have a great ear for writing music is awesome.
“I felt a bit like Ringo, but then I also really didn’t want it to be a Yoko Ono, ‘here’s a song with my girlfriend’ moment either…”
Okay, so how does a tune like “Japan Song” come about? It has such a different vibe to the rest of the EP, but it works so goddamn well!
Liam: “Japan Song” was basically started by myself and my better half, in those mornings getting ready for work when you know you have a sweet trip coming up. We’d just sing lyrics at each other getting excited and I’d muck around on the guitar piecing it together – I play guitar upside down and can’t play many chords, so it took a while. It was a bit scary being the drummer and bringing a song in for the first time: I felt a bit like Ringo, but then I also really didn’t want it to be a Yoko Ono, ‘here’s a song with my girlfriend’ moment either. But everyone in this band is super supportive and gave it a go, and we hope the end result was a winner. Oh, and props to Spencer for learning lyrics to a song where a bunch of it isn’t in English.
Spencer: Liam had to write a few things out phonetically for me… I think I got there though.
Have you been to Japan before?
Liam: When the song was started, I hadn’t been yet, so it was mostly hopeful adventures. When I got to go, the country definitely delivered. A sweet mix of cultural sites, cute and bizarre bars and restaurants, and of course, karaoke.
Aidan: I went on a holiday to Japan for about 3 weeks back in 2014 – I went with two friends and had the time of my life. Japanese people are so friendly, and the country was beautiful. I was there in Winter and we got stuck a few times in some blizzards, but I was lucky enough to visit Hiroshima, Osaka, Kyoto, and also spend a lot of time exploring around Tokyo.
What’s one piece of Japanese culture that needs to make its way to Australia ASAP?
Liam: Being generally super nice to each other, more places serving good Ramen, and shinkansen; can you imagine catching a train from Sydney to Melbourne in a few hours? It takes us 3 hours just to get to Sydney!
Aidan: This little restaurant/bar set up called ‘Nomihodai’ which basically translates to “all you can drink”. I doubt it’d go well in Australia with our drinking culture, though [laughs].
William: Its great seeing “authentic” options for Japanese food pop up in Australia (even Newcastle!). More of that, please.
Spencer: If they started airing New Japan Pro Wrestling on TV here, I would be a happy man.
What would you say is the coolest thing about Japan as a country?
Liam: The people, the views and the foods. It also has a really cool mix of old culture and futuristic technology. Where else can you see a temple and a robot restaurant in the same place?
Aidan: They created Nintendo. enough said. Also, Hideo Kojima for any Metal Gear Solid fans out there.
Spencer: They have some of the best Pro Wrestling in the world, seriously.
Would you adopt a real-life Totoro if you could? What do you think owning one would be like?
Liam: I did bring back a little stuffed toy for my nephew… And one for myself. I imagine it would be a full time carer job – like having a huge cat at your house hyped up on sugar; you’d just have to get him out of the house and go on sweet adventures.
So you’re launching this EP with your first ever live show at The Hamo next Thursday. What can people expect to go down, and might we see a full tour on the horizon any time soon?
Spencer: I’m so very excited! I have never been in a band that had songs out in the world before our first show, so it’s going to be a bit different. Expect excellent bands, me being very nervous, and a post-show party. We also get to play with All In A Year, Jacob, and Rachel Maria Cox!
Aidan: Hopefully some sing-a-longs and also expect some great local talent playing alongside us. The Hamo also has Stone & Wood on tap, 10/10 would recommend.
Liam: Hopefully just a whole bunch of smiles and sing-alongs. The last band I played in with Wil, he took his pants off onstage every once in a while. A full tour would be a treat in the future, but we’re definitely working on isolated shows around the country in the meantime.
Wrap your ears around Paper Thin’s “Japan Song” below!
Thursday August 11th – The Hamilton Station Hotel, Newcastle (18+)
w/ All In A Year + Jacob + Rachel Maria Cox
Wednesday September 14th – The Hamilton Station Hotel, Newcastle (18+)
w/ Lionizer + Straddlepuss + Hey Lady!