Artist Profile: Paper Arrows will sizzle through the air and set fires

Paper Arrows - photo by Patti Farfan

Paper Arrows play some pretty amazing aural tricks – one moment they evoke Jack Joseph Puig-produced Canadian band Big Wreck with its thundering 22″ kick and triple amped hollow body guitars, the next lead singer Joe Goodkin sounds like the love child of Neil Young and Thom Yorke.  But somehow the band manages to avoid the amateurish dilemma of failing to lock onto an identifiable sound; if something binds the widely varied nature of Paper Arrows songs it’s the open-sounding, live-feeling and beautifully recorded production and performance.  They could stand head-to-head with Jason Falkner, Goo Goo Dolls, Jellyfish and never risk getting lumped in with overly-precious mandatory ballads by Nickelback.  There is something too honest and raw in their latest recordings that include everything from 80’s synths to glockenspiel, player piano to harmonium and yet feel like the main ingredient is lots and lots of moving air – expansive and organic, rootsy and totally contemporary, this is gorgeously realized stuff indeed.

With its debut record Look Alive just a year old, Chicago’s Paper Arrows is back with a second full-length, Things We Would Rather Lose, was released by Quell Records on April 7, 2009.

In contrast to the quiet loss-laced and winter-inspired Look Alive, Things We Would Rather Lose features a robust, diverse sound, which was captured at I.V. Lab Studios and Gravity Studios in Chicago by producer Jay Marino, and mixed by Manny Sanchez (The Uglysuit, Zwan, The Hush Sound).

Asked about the name Paper Arrows, Goodkin explains: “I liked the idea that songs are arrows that you fire into the air, hoping that they hit the intended targets… and Jay’s approach to producing the album was so conductive to that idea.” Speaking on the new release, Goodkin explains: “We really had no pre-conceived notions of what we wanted to do with any of the 9 songs we wound up recording [out of a collection of 25 written since Look Alive was released], and that freed us up to use a variety of instruments and sounds. I really like the idea that what holds the album together is the lyrics, and that the different sounds and styles emulate and convey the complex process of recovering from loss.”

But wanted more!  We demanded answers!   Here is what we got from the band:

MZ: Who?

Joe Goodkin: guitar, vox; Jay Marino: bass, guitar, mandolin, background vox; Darren Garvey: drums, piano, organ; Drew Scalercio: piano, organ; Anthony Burton: bass, background vox.  Makes it sounds like we have two bassists.  Which we don’t.  At least not at the same time.  Didn’t Ned’s Atomic Dustbin have two bassists?

MZ: What?

Rock music.  Pop music.  Indie music.  Indie music?  Sure.  Thoughtful, melodic, heartfelt above all else.  We hope.

MZ: Why?

Because every generation throws a hero up the pop charts.

MZ: Until When?Paper Arrows Live - Photo by Elizabeth Kovach

Until we run out of things about which to write and ways in which to write about them.  Is that the correct sentence structure for that thought?  Did you at least get the sense of it?  ‘Cause that’s what’s really important. We’re not sticklers for grammar.  Actually, we kind of are.  In our own little way.

MZ: Where?

Indoors in the winter.  Outdoors in the summer.  No spring or fall in Chicago.

Paper Arrows host an all-ages CD release for their latest album “Things We Would Rather Lose” at Schubas in Chicago – May 17th, 2009, 7:00 p.m.  $8 adv/$10 door.  3159 N. Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

Find out more at:

Listen now to “‘Til I Couldn’t Cry” by Paper Arrows at

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