Chicago's own Paper Arrows is winning hearts over with their thought-provoking lyrics and soothing sound, making them one of Chicago's most loved up-and-coming bands. Not only is this band full of Chicago-raised musicians, but they are also fearless. They have completed several albums, earned air time, made it to the small screen, and completed a residency at Schubas, but Paper Arrows seems destined for more than just playing around in Chicago with the recent signing with record label Slothtrop.
Luckily, band member Joe Goodkin was kind enough to give me the scoop on Paper Arrows:
How did you guys meet, and what led to the formation of Paper Arrows?
Goodkin: "We [Goodkin, Jay Marino, and Darren Garvey] were in separate bands managed by the same agent and shared a couple stages on local bills here in Chicago. I was in the band Burn Rome Burn, and Jay and Darren were in a band called Buddy Nuisance. I had a set of songs that I liked, but they weren't appropriate for Burn Rome Burn. Jay offered to help me record these songs in an attic studio he was building. We originally intended to record a sparse, mostly acoustic album, but Darren lived downstairs from the studio, and at some point in the recording process, he started contributing drums, keys, and a number of other instruments. In 2008, those recordings became our first record, 'Look Alive.' Paper Arrows has since been the three of us plus a rotating cast of additional musicians."
How does living in Chicago inspire your music?
Goodkin: "It's just a great place to set up shop. There are great recording studios and a bunch of wonderful venues. Creatively, I've always thought that Chicago has an amazing energy without being overwhelming. That's why our first video was kind of a little love letter to our city."
How would you classify your music?
Goodkin: "I've been scolded for referring to it as indie, because apparently that implies a certain production aesthetic that is most certainly not us. Slothtrop calls us 'literate love songs,' which I think is great. I think of us as just an old fashioned rock band."
How has Paper Arrows grown over the years?
Goodkin: "The most exciting thing about the group to me is we've changed up our process and our sound on pretty much each project. 'Look Alive' was a spare, almost accidental record. 'Things We Would Rather Lose' is dense and loud and has different sounds like a horn section. 'In the Morning' we tracked almost entirely in three days, with the whole band recording the basic tracks together in a room. 'Days of Getting By' we recorded one song each studio session, starting with nothing in the morning and then finishing with it arranged, tracked, and nearly mixed by the end of the day. It's fun and energizing to work that way."
What is Paper Arrows' biggest accomplishment?
Goodkin: "From a business standpoint, signing with Slothtrop was a huge deal. Before that, hearing our music on MTV and E! on a number of shows was pretty cool. Our biggest creative accomplishment has been creating a group of records that are cohesive without being repetitive."
When did you discover your writing abilities?
Goodkin: "I'm still discovering them. What I found was, the more honest I was, the better. I also learned to embrace vision in the right ways. I view Paper Arrows' catalog as a continually developing narrative, and I try to keep it as cohesive as possible."
After signing with Slothtrop, what are your plans? Will you keep a fast pace for putting out records?
Goodkin: "Our relationship has been very productive so far. And yes, we plan on keeping our fast pace for putting out records. Just after the first of the year, we'll be recording a new EP, which we anticipate will be released in spring of 2013."
Janoa Taylor is a freelance writer with a background in business and finance. She offers a unique local perspective gained from years as a Chicago resident.
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