“At one of our early shows,” says PAPA’s lead singing drummer, Darren Weiss, “Somebody came up to me at the end of our set and called us ‘necessary music’ meaning that he thought it satisfied both the soul and the sole of the shoe. He was high on ecstasy, so I didn’t take it too seriously as a compliment, but I thought, huh, what a great aspiration. I guess that’s what we’ve been trying to achieve this whole time.
The band formed in New York City in 2008 while Darren, and bassist/songwriting partner Danny Presant we’re attending college, but the duo’s history stretches further, and has set the terms under which the band has operated since it’s inception. They met as children in Los Angeles through Danny’s boyhood neighbors, and together would “pull pranks, look at playboys, go swimming in other people’s pools,” says Presant, “You know, just boy stuff”.
But things became more serious as the two began their obsession with music, and the underground culture of the local scenes. “As soon as our parents would let us out the house, we were at the troubadour,at the el rey, at downtown warehouse shows” says Weiss, “Often times, I wouldn’t even bother to look at the bill to see who was playing. When I was a kid, I just wanted to be there. As long as people we’re playing their instruments on stage, I was there, dancing, and sweating”.
They speak proudly and affectionately of the groups who showed them to their path as youngsters. “We had bands like the Murder City Devils, the Icarus Line, Ink and Dagger, Hot Snakes, Pleasure Forever, and Fugazi” notes Presant, “These bands we’re true rock ‘n’ roll warriors, and punks. There was a beautiful antagonism to what they were doing, and the way they presented their art that made you feel like you were in on something if you understood it”. Darren agrees, “It wasn’t for radio, it wasn’t for blogs, it wasn’t for anything except for you to feel aligned with something that was ‘other’ than the status quo. Though we may not sound like the bands that raised us, our music, our band is an extension of that culture that we came from.”
Through out high-school the two played in bands together and apart, but after Weiss had spent several years touring in a punk band with his brother, he decided to step away and into a new path. He moved to New York to study literature and the artists he idolized. “There seemed to be something different about the artists I loved who we’re living in Manhattan, or inspired by the city. When I think about these artists – whether it’s Patti Smith, or Jackson Pollock, their work has this kinetic energy, this insatiable curiosity, a journey with arms flailing about while the legs move steadily forward. That was the kind of art I was always interested in making. I took note of the way The Clash loved New York and American culture, and how they infused it with their energy to become ‘the only band that mattered’ and that was what I wanted”.
menial professions they could find, they moved back to their hometown to set their attention entirely to the work they had begun on the east coast. Shortly after recording their critically acclaimed EP “A Good Woman Is Hard To Find”, they set off for what would be two years of touring with bands like Of Monster And Men, Grouplove, Girls, Temper Trap, Lord Huron, and Cold War Kids converting believers both in the states and internationally. Their live show represents their artistry, but also the philosophies of the bands that excited them so as kids. There is immense passion on stage, and the sweat to prove it. One review witnessed, “they hit every note as though they were playing for lunch money,” There are no backing tracks, no autotune/self harmonizing pedals. There is something on the line each night. Weiss explains, “Every night I’m proving it to myself as much as I’m proving it to our audience. I want to connect, and I want to be worth connecting to,” And while there is a light hearted charm and sense of romance to the performance, there is also a taste of that kinetic energy as well as the antagonism of the punk shows they were weaned on. An inviting energy, which seems to say “get on this train, or get the hell out of it’s way”. We’re glad to be on this train.
Throughout their extensive travels, they managed to set time aside to record the songs that would compromise their upcoming debut LP Tender Madness. It is an uncommonly diverse record, exploring romantic themes as well as social frustrations. Here, America is a muse, as much as a lover, as much as the opposition. It doesn’t sound like a record by a rookie band, because that’s not what this is. This is a road tested group, who’s desires and experience run the gamut of the human experience as they see it, being men in their mid-twenties, on the move, chasing that which has no desire to be caught. But to listen to the chase is an exhilarating and freeing experience.