For a band who started out as three friends in high school, Papa Vs Pretty could be considered as living the dream. Surviving the initial hype around the band when they first appeared on Sydney stages underaged, they went on to sign with EMI records and release a debut album which so far has been welcomed by fans and industry alike.
Music Feeds: Was sort of differences were there recording with Paul McKercher at BJB compared to Paul Dempsey at Albert Studios. What’s it like working with a musician compared to a straight up Producer.
Tom Rawle: Yes, it was a different style of production. Paul Dempsey helped us on a more basic level – when we were writing that E.P we were still yet to formulate a ‘key sound’. He just helped us achieve all we could from a three piece. Paul McKercher on the other hand was more hands on and really helped us with the production side of things. He was really great with the mixing and touching up and encouraged us to use some different sounds and methods of recording.
MF: There’s such a huge sound just for three members of the band. What sort of a songwriting process is there in the band? Did you have this entire record pre-planned before bringing it to the others?
TR: I made an acoustic version of the album first – which is what I usually do. I record it all at home and then bring it to the band so we can all flesh it out together. It’s not explicitly a concept record – but I guess there’s a sort of vibe with the re-occurring themes. It’s weird, I usually have to write songs every day – I feel like I’ve got some kind of a quota that I have to achieve by the end of the week. But yeah, that’s usually the process of how we work.
MF: United In Isolation has some pretty incredible and creepy artwork; is that supposed to reflect on the concepts in the album?
TR: Dirk Larsen is one of my favourite artists; I sort of just emailed him and asked if we could use the artwork. He listened to the songs and agreed. It might be frowned upon now, but for sake of longevity I think it might be seen as something as appropriate to the album. It’s got a real presence to it – I mean, if you drove past it being advertised on a telephone pole you’d probably have a car accident. It’s just a change from the typical blurry shot of a grainy polaroid that seems to be on most albums these days.
MF: Also, the electronic LP is something I haven’t seen before – your drawings are amazing on that. Who came up with that whole idea?
TR: Oh yeah, that was just a labour of love. I collaborated with Bird Pixels who did design work for bands like Grinderman, Gorillaz etc. I told them how I thought it was going to work – so we wanted like a mind-map of the songs where you can browse around and read along with the songs. I’m into pretty geeky computer and programming stuff so I was pretty intrigued by the whole process.
MF: You obviously started writing music at an early age and entered the industry soon after. Do you feel less vulnerable than you did when you started? Is there a lot of pressure on the band?
TR: Totally, when I first started releasing music, I wasn’t used to people having a crack at you. Like, at the age of 15 or 16 you aren’t really used to people you know openly critiquing your work. But, in saying that, I find criticism completely encouraging and I’d be more inclined to read a negative review than a positive one. But only if they actually have the facts to back it up – constructive criticism is good. But I guess, regardless of what the press or anyone says, I’m still going to continue recording and releasing music.
MF: Honey and Bitter Pill off the new record have got remarkable guitar solos in them – I’ve missed guitar solos in recent times. What are your thoughts.
TR: I think unfortunately the guitar solo is highly unfashionable. But I think it will stand the test of time – plus it’s all about what seems appropriate to the song. To be actually bothered to learn your instrument is a real test and it’s not anymore self indulgent than singing. Look at classic bands like Queen or Hendrix – or even Dinosaur Jr for Christ sake. Every song there’s a guitar solo. So in conclusion – guitar solos are good.
MF: Does the band feel at home in Sydney? Or do you hope to tour and or live abroad in the coming years like so many have before. What are your thoughts on Australians leaving their homeland for greater prospects?
TR: Yeah, I’d love to tour abroad just because I’ve never actually been overseas before. But, our main goal at the moment is to have a solid base and operations in Australia where most of our fans are here. So we can tour rather regularly which might allow us to go overseas and tour and come back. I mean, Temper Trap had a pretty solid fan base before they left – then they you know, did really well overseas. But, at no point are we planning to go overseas just yet.
MF: The record’s been very well received by critics and more importantly fans over Australia already. Did it personally hit your expectations?
TR: Yeah, I think it’s a decent achievement. But, I’m already thinking about the second record. I haven’t really even listened to the album that much, I think I keep it from a distance so when I play the songs again for the tour it will all seem fresh,
MF: You’ve obviously got a ridiculous amount of songs under your belt. Why didn’t you chose directly for a solo career – what made you want to have a full proper band instead? Will any of these songs be re-recorded and re-released (like the Memoirs From A Bedroom)?
TR: Yeah, basically it’s just going to be a way to release all the stuff I’ve done in the past. I thought if I released it all at once no one would listen to it – but I think if we separate it into volumes, more or less it’s just all the songs I recorded in my bedroom and gave to friends and family. I think down the track we will release them almost without letting anyone know – possibly just throwing them on the merchandise table at a show.
MF: What are the plans for the rest of the year and the near future?
TR: Probably just tour for the rest of the year, do some more film clips. Then hopefully get overseas for a couple of showcases, depending on how the album goes. We’ve got shows with The Kaiser Chiefs and The Vines coming up – and by early next year I’m sure we’ll be ready to record our second album.
Papa Vs Pretty’s are celebrating the release album United In Isolation through EMI this Friday 24th June at The Annandale Hotel.