With their co-headline tour kicking off this Friday in Adelaide, then heading to Melbourne for the weekend it’s time to catch up with both Paper Arms and The Outsiders ahead of the dates. Wil Wagner had a chat with Josh from Paper Arms and Niam from The Outsiders recently, you’ll find the results below by expanding this post where you can also re-cap where to see them over the coming weeks. In the lead up to the tour, The Outsiders are giving away free downloads of their debut EP and album [Here]. Grab ‘em so you can sing along. Check them out if they are hitting a venue near you. Tickets available on the door.
Who the fuck are ya?
Hey we are Outsiders we are from NZ although some of us reside in Australia, we play punk/rock with heart and passion, we sleep on floors all over the world and want to come and party with you!!
What made you guys start a band?
I’m not sure Stu and I have been playing bands together since we are 14, I discovered punk and alternative music when I was 12/13 started acting like a scumbag and became obsessed with music. The next logical conclusion was to start a band. We have never looked back now we are pushing 30 and we now know how to play our instruments a little bit better and drink heaps.
Obligatory you’re from New Zealand questions, did coming out of a smaller city affect your experiences starting a band? What’s the music scene like in New Zealand? The few bands I’ve met/played with from there seem to be pushing the envelope pretty hard and creating original sounds, was there more pressure created by less opportunity to play or less emphasis on ‘making it’ and more on fun? Or am I totally wrong and it’s just like everywhere else?
I think in a lot of ways it is just like everywhere else but there are differences. I think in my experience you have to create your own fun. My friends and I had an old gang headquarters we lived at where we put on shows when we were like 21. We had bands from all over the place come and play and the scene blew up really quickly so it was great for me growing up. I think there is a certain uniqueness that comes from music in NZ it is more isolated so there is the tendency to be less influenced by what is going on in the US or other parts of the world so yes I think bands are a bit weirder and in some ways more interesting than your standard bands from bigger countries.
A lot of bands from New Zealand seem to end up in Australia or immigrate to other parts of the world, has this ever been an option for you guys or something you’d consider? And how do people react when bands decide to leave New Zealand?
I moved to Melbourne but it was more of a personal choice than a band decision we are trying to keep it working long distance like lovers. Personally I think location is important and yeah anything is possible for us at this point, I like the idea of basing yourself somewhere for a short while and touring a lot and then hopping to the next country but obviously this is a lot easier said than done when life and money issues come into play. As for when bands leave NZ and go outside and try and further themselves I think there is a reaction in a lot of ways I am sure you have heard of Tall Poppy Syndrome, NZ is a small country and I think there is a negative reaction in some ways when band do well outside of that context on the other hand some people are incredibly supportive it is hard to generalise an entire country. I think NZ culture can be quite oblivious to what is going on in the rest of the world sometimes and it doesn’t seem to really matter if you do well outside of NZ unless you are doing well in NZ people will not notice, or unless you really blow up overseas then NZ takes notice. New Zealanders are known for not been impressed very easily haha. I am not relating any of this to my band either, although it may be hard to fathom we are not doing that well haha.
Any bands killing it back home that we should know about?
I would say check out Shitripper (Hardcore Punk), (The Murderchord) Dave from Missing Teeth and his weird keyboard crap) who have both recently played in Melbourne. I really like The Transistors who are a garage punk kind of deal and I am sure there are plenty of other bands who are great who we have not met yet.
You guys have a pretty formidable and inspiring touring record, where did this love of the road start?
I have always wanted to tour, personally I think it is the best thing about being in a band Outsiders are a live band and I have been touring heavily since I was 18 in various bands. There is nothing better than escaping reality with your best friends and driving off down some highway, it is pure freedom plus you can party as hard as you want. I would have gone insane many, many times over if I did not have the next tour to give me good times to look forward to. You meet a lot of interesting people as well, going on tour is possibly the best thing ever.
You’ve really blazed a trail all over the world for independent bands to go overseas and play shows, I’m learning now of the logistical nightmare that is booking shows overseas, do you guys handle this or do you have people that organise shows for you? And how does it work when you’re there, is it flying by the seat of your pants stuff or are you guys a well-oiled machine now?
A lot of it is DIY for us we still book a lot of our own shows although we have people in certain areas that help us out like record labels we have hooked up with who may get us on the odd show or friends who are in bigger bands we have met. Mostly it is pretty DIY and yeah flying by the seat of our pants. I wish we did have a tour manager sometimes in certain situations and we have had them before in Europe etc but you know you do what you can and all bands that I respect have toured for years and put in hard work and then found success. I really don’t trust bands who spring up out of nowhere and become really popular without much touring or miles behind them, I am very suspicious of these bands. Look at all the greats and they have miles and a lot of bullshit behind them.
With America and Europe under your belt, what’s next? Is there anywhere you haven’t been that you’d love to go to or places you’ve played that you can’t wait to get back to?
I would love to go back to Europe because it is the easiest place in the world to tour and we haven’t been in a few years. You get fed every night and most mornings, always decent accommodation and usually as much free alcohol as you can drink no matter how many people turn up. Germany knows how to treat bands especially. In the US or UK it is survival of the fittest and can be pretty rough but yeah I would love to keep touring the UK and the US as well as visit new places Japan and South America. It is always easier to tour places you have been before though.
The upcoming Paper Arms/The Outsiders tour kicks off this week, what do you like about playing in Australia? Is it different from playing in other parts of the world?
Australia is a great place for the kind of music we do, I think with the popularity and hard work of labels like Poison City, Resist and other like minded people in the scene in Australia has kept underground music and punk type stuff pretty vital. Australia is always a great place to tour and there is a decent punk and hardcore scene here so that always makes our job a lot easier, if people are into it, it is good times all around. So yeah Australia always reliably great!!
You guys have set up free downloads of your album and first EP on your bandcamp page ahead of the tour which is an option available to more and more bands these days. How will the current ever changing and evolving musical climate affect the musical community that you guys are a part of?
Yeah if anyone would like a free copy of our First EP and our First Full length or would just like to listen to any of our stuff please go [Here]. We will have it up for free until the tour stars. Few underground bands really sell a lot of albums these days so I think it is important to keep stuff available, if people hear the music and like it enough to share with friends and come to a show that is what is important. I would rather people hear the music than not have access to it. Obviously I encourage people to support independent bands because they really, really benefit from it, if you like a band try and support them it really does help them. I try and buy stuff from bands I like and want to support so yeah I don’t think downloading should be an excuse not to support bands but at the same time for a band like us the more people who hear it the better.
I know this is an annoying and obvious question, but how has social media and the like helped you as a band? Especially in regards to touring both nationally and internationally, has it helped ease the passage from strangers to friends?
Yeah for sure a lot of friends I have met on tour and people who have put on shows for us we have communicated through social media and hooked up shows that way so it is incredibly valuable for bands I believe, have hooked up so many shows through those avenues and stayed in contact with a lot of people that way so yeah it is really helpful I think. At the same time I guess people can get so many messages on those sites that it can be overwhelming for promoters to reply.
And finally, for those who haven’t seen or heard The Outsiders what can we expect from you guys on this tour?
We have been compared to Jawbreaker, Against Me, Husker Du, Samiam etc so if you like melodic punk and rock that is rough around the edges with a heap of energy and played by a bunch of party animals do not hesitate to come along and hang out with us we love meeting new people and sharing the good times. Also please add us here www.facebook.com/outsidersnz so you can check out all the line ups for all the shows we have coming up and all the other stuff we are doing, we are recording an acoustic song for a split 7 inch on Anchorless Records from New York with some legendary bands and prob doing an acoustic EP so hit us up online.
Who the fuck are ya?
What made you guys start a band?
Paper Arms started with a conversation between myself and Tom our drummer in a car park outside of a show, when we realised we both liked a small niche of punk rock, that not many people in Adelaide did and no-one in Adelaide was playing. I’m not sure if you’d consider it wise to start playing a genre that no one in your city is into, but we just wanted to play what we wanted to hear.
What makes you write the music that you write?
I find the writing process really difficult, so it’s definitely not for the process. I think there’s nothing quite like the finished result though. Getting up and playing something that you’ve sweated over in your bedroom, and looking up to see people connecting with it at a show… that’s the reward. That’s why you do it.
Has coming from a smaller, and oft forgotten, city had any affect on your song writing or movements as a band?
Adelaide has a fairly awesome music community, which is probably due to its size to some extent. Everyone knows everyone and is almost forced to get along because a town like this is too small to be bothered having enemies. haha. Having said that, it kind of limits how much we can play here to the same crowd before they get sick of us, so it’s forced us to tour a lot more than we might have to if we lived in Melbourne or Sydney.
It’s interesting to see how bands choose to record their music these days, seemingly anything from a voice memo on an iPhone to 6 months at Abbey Road with Steve Albini can be released. What made you want to have Walter Schreifels (Youth of Today, Gorilla Biscuits) produce your debut album? What was that experience like in comparison to recording your song recently for the Blueline Medic tribute?
I’d never worked with a producer before, so I was interested in that idea for a start. Also, by the time we had Days Above Ground written, we were all so close to the songs that we couldn’t really hear what was working or what wasn’t anymore. We needed someone who we respected, with fresh ears to let us know where we’d gotten carried away. We approached Walter because we loved and respected his song writing from his own bands, as well as the albums he’d produced for some of our other favourite bands. I think he taught us a lot, and made us more confident to produce new material on our own. The Blueline track was all self produced, and the next record will be too. Fingers crossed it doesn’t suck…
It’s been a while between releases for you guys, with ‘Days Above Ground’ coming out in 2010 to much acclaim. Is it frustrating for you having songs in the bank that people aren’t hearing yet? Are there any plans for a new release on the horizon?
It’s killing us how long it’s taken to get new songs together. I had a marriage break up about the time we should have been writing a new album, and at that point in your life, writing music doesn’t seem anywhere near as important as sitting in a dark room on your own and getting drunk. But that time has passed, and we’re back on track now. We’re booked in to record a new full length at the end of July. I can’t wait to get some of these new songs out there!
Along with Paper Arms, you also play solo shows. Where you doing this before Paper Arms or is it a recent addition to your musical arsenal? Besides the obvious differences, what do you like about playing solo that keeps you coming back?
I did one solo show pre-Paper Arms when I was about 20. It was terrifying and it took me another 7 or so years to do another one. haha. This time round though, I had a couple of songs I was proud of, and kind of enjoyed the stripped back nature of it. I think there’s something really honest about seeing a musician on their own, with no where to hide. I like the idea of forcing myself to try new things, and new ways of writing and singing. Keeps you on your toes.
The upcoming Paper Arms/The Outsiders tour is one of a few collaborative tours that you guys have done. What brought the two bands together? What are the benefits of teaming up with other bands to hit the road?
We’ve talked a few times with the Outsiders about touring, and this is the first time it’s worked out. We both started at around the same time, and dig each other’s music, so it seemed like a good fit. I think the obvious benefit is that instead of meeting a band for a couple of hours in a city, and not seeing them again for months, we’ll be hanging out for about a week and getting to know each other intimately. Especially if it’s cold at night. But seriously, they’re a great band, and it’s going to be awesome to share some stages with them.
With the tour kicking off soon are there any pre tour rituals you go through? What makes you the most excited to be on the road? Is there anything that you aren’t so excited about?
My pre-tour ritual is kind of the same as my “on tour” ritual and it mostly involves listening to Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen. It’s exciting on or off the road. Not so excited about sitting in a van with 8 dudes for 10 hours at a time. Bleh. Tour doggin.
You’re sharing the stage with some pretty stellar bands on this tour, besides obviously The Outsiders, do you guys have much input on who supports you on the road? And any up and coming bands we should be checking out while we still can?
This run is completely DIY so we’ve hand chosen all the bands involved. Mostly because we love them and they’re great. There’s a couple of old friends doing some of their first shows on this run. Brendan from Rex Banner’s new band ‘Harbourer’ are playing their first show at Blackwire Records, Dan from Seraphs Coal’s new band ‘Beaver’ is playing Adelaide as well as Matt from Realist Few’s new band ‘Manhattan Jinx’. Also, Jamie Hay from A Death In The Family’s new project (appropriately titled the Jamie Hay Band) is playing Melbourne just to name a few. I’m equally excited to see all the supports as much as I am to play.
Will any new songs be featured on the upcoming tour or will you just stick with the hits? What’s it like switching between songs people know and unheard material, are people generally interested to hear new stuff or just want to sing along?
Yeah, we should have a couple of new ones in the mix just to reassure people that there’s more to come from Paper Arms. We’ve had a good response to our new songs so far. Hopefully people feel what we’re doing.
And finally, the next time you hit Melbourne will be your Poison City Weekender show. Everyone looks forward to this weekend all year long (the show Paper Arms are playing has already sold out and more shows might have by the time this is published) and the feeling of family and community that surrounds it is pretty immense. What’s it like to be a part of such a close knit group of people and how does it affect your music?
The Weekender is traditionally one of the highlights of my year. It is a really special thing to have the people you love from every state come together at one big show. Like a big reunion. Also doesn’t hurt to have 3 days of shows where every single band puts a smile on your face. We feel really honoured to be part of the Poison City family and Andy does a great job of picking like minded bands to be associated with. If it affects our music at all it’s mostly subconscious. We’re always inspired by seeing and listening to the other bands and I’m sure it’s just naturally played a part in helping us find our sound.
Poison City Records and Bombshellzine.com Present…
PAPER ARMS with THE OUTSIDERS
22nd – Enigma Bar, Adelaide [18+] w/ Manhattan Jinx & Beaver
23rd – Bendigo Hotel, Collingwood [18+] w/ The Jamie Hay Band, Infinite Void & Foxtrot
24th – The Place, Preston [AA] w/ Maricopa Wells & Declaration
28th – The Phoenix, Canberra [18+] w/ Revellers * Note – Change of venue from Transit Bar *
29th – Black Wire Records, Annandale [AA] w/ Harbourer
30th – The Basement, Brisbane [18+] w/ Headaches & Army Of Champions