By Keith Sharp
Think of Prince Edward Island and you naturally think of Anne of Green Gables, golf courses, potatoes, oysters, picturesque beaches and that funky Confederation Bridge linking the island to New Brunswick. But pop music, not so much.
Yes, Stompin Tom Connors was raised on the island and rock group Haywire called PEI home, but as keyboardist David Rashad once told this writer, “We knew it was time to leave, when the last night club on the island closed down.”
But if you are to believe Paper Lions’ lead vocalist/guitarist John MacPhee, there’s quite a strong domestic scene developing. “It’s a small community to be sure but if you start a band and work out the kinks, you’ll always have a couple of hundred people at your gigs.”
Paper Lions, who celebrate the release of their fourth recording , `Full Colours’ September 16th with a major concert September 30th at the PEI Convention Centre in Charlottetown, were formed when MacPhee brothers, John and Robert (bass) connected with next door neighbour Colin Buchanan (lead guitar) in their home town of Belfast PEI, recruiting high school buddy David Cyrus MacDonald as the group’s drummer.
Initially called Chucky Danger, the quartet earned a Maritimes Music Award for their 2006 EP 6-Pack release, before releasing their debut studio record, `Colour’ later that year. Over the next 10 years, the band released one more album as Chucky Danger (self-titled 2007 release) before changing their name to Paper Lions and developing their sound as a stylish pop-dance band.
When asked if the choice of the album title `Full Colour’ had any connection with their first Chucky Danger release, MacPhee explained there was no initial intention but on reflection, “I think we have come full circle since that first record. We have reached a point where we have revisited certain aspects of our development. “We are obviously a little wiser and a lot more experienced and I think this experience is reflected in the 11 tracks on our new record.”
In creating ‘Full Colour’, MacPhee claimed the band initially wrote a bunch of songs with no set intention of recording an album. “We just let the songs go down their own path until we realized that a collection of these songs worked well together.”
As big believers in social media, the band has released four tracks off the new album as singles prior to Full Colour’s release; “Believer”, “Born To Rule”, “My Number” and “End Of July” all previously available for download.
[styled_box title=”Paper Lions – My Number” color=”black”][/styled_box]
They used social media to their advantage when “Trophies”, the band’s first release under their new moniker in 2010 was iced when their label closed its doors. “When we realized we weren’t going to get any money for the record, we decided to just give it away on our website for free,” reflected MacPhee. When the reaction to our offer went viral, we received 25,000 downloads during the first weekend and we received 150,000 hits on our website. That turned into quite the public relations stunt when actually it was a happy accident.”
With “My Number” in particular receiving strong national airplay, Paper Lions will be heading west for a number of tour dates in Ontario, British Columbia and other key Western showcases including a Toronto date October 15th at The Mod Club.”
“There have been bumps in the road in our story that in hindsight have served us well, MacPhee analyzed. “We’ve had some positive indicators (tour dates with Cake, Collective Soul, Loverboy, Hot Hot Heat, Pennywise), and our fans constantly affirm their support for us. If we hadn’t received these indicators, we would have stopped doing this a long time ago.”
As for the band’s association with Haywire, “With the fourth show we ever did as Chucky Danger, we wanted to record our performance live off the floor so David Rashad agreed to record the session for us,” noted MacPhee. “We were just a bunch of 18-year-old kids who didn’t know what we were doing. Listening back to it, that recording hasn’t improved with age,” he laughs.