The Houston Music Blog section of the Free Press Houston.

Saturday, July 5, 2024


posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 6:07 AM

Papermoons self-portrait

It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m sitting with the Papermoons outside King Biscuit in the hot Texas sun as guitarist Matt Clark and drummer Daniel Hawkins are getting all In Search of... on me. A house party on their upcoming tour is right near the hometown of the legendary Moth Man which, as you can imagine, is a local legend involving some creature that looks like…well...a Moth Man. The supernatural is an odd little diversion for the Papermoons. “We went to an old graveyard in Sleepy Hollow at night.” says Daniel, “That was some freaky shit!” Cleary not freaked out enough on that tour, they plan to spend some time this tour visiting Gettysburg where ghosts are said to roam and people can visit at night. It’s all par for the course for a band that clearly loves not only making music but also travelling. Talk with them for any length of time and it’s clear that, for these two, touring is still a grand adventure filled with the promise of the unexpected and the memorable.

That love of the road is actually quite appropriate as the duo met while touring in different bands. Danny had been drumming in Houston’s Little Compass and Matt had been in playing guitar in the Akron, Ohio band Adios. The bands met through the internet, toured together, and the two immediately hit it off. Then, when the bands were coming to their logical end, a night at Late Night Pie sealed the partnership. “We were talking about quieter bands like Wilco,” says Matt, “and it turns out we had similar ideas of what we wanted to do. We started sending tapes of songs back and forth between Ohio and Texas where one of us would build on the ideas of the other. Eventually, I was over with school and had nothing keeping me in Ohio so I moved to Houston.”

The new duo soon discovered the challenges and rewards of the new less-is-more approach. “There’s a freedom in just playing a backbeat and not overplaying.” says Danny, “Believe it or not, it’s actually easier to overplay than to just hold-back but it’s amazing how much a song can be just as powerful without resorting to simple volume.”

“My guitar has to do a lot more work,” explains Matt, “and I have to try to fill the sound. But if you can play a song – just vocals and a guitar – and it holds up, that’s a good song. That’s my benchmark.”

“When we work on songs, we hear arrangements in our heads,” says Danny, “so if we don’t feel that, we drop it. This new album was written pretty fast. We wanted to release it in time to tour during the summer so all the songs were written and recorded under that time constraint but we didn’t compromise in the process. This album is exactly the album we wanted to release.”

The album was partially written in our small apartment. “Danny set up his drums here in the living room,” says Matt as he sketches three very small rectangles in an L shape with stick figures on my note pad. “I was in the bedroom here, and in this small bathroom between the two rooms is where I set my amp. We recorded the entire thing on Adobe Audition starting with Danny’s drums and I’d layer on top of that. We’d start with the music and find the vocal harmonies.”

“Harmonies were the first thing on the table when we started his band!” exclaims Danny. “We love killer harmonies so that’s one of the things we concentrate on. We’ll work out the melodies and Matt will write the lyrics.”

“I’m not much of a lyricist,” says Matt as his leg shakes up and down under the table, “I’ll try to write broad lyrics that everyone can relate to. Some of it is from stuff I’ve experienced but the lyrics are never specific. I just try to find that one line and, once I’ve got that down, the rest of the lyrics flow from that one line.”

Matt may be humble about his lyrics but there is a simple honesty in his words that seem as organic and of-the-earth as the music. Take the opening track – Follow The Sun - from the new Papermoons album. Chiming guitar notes play off a lonely slide guitar as vocals sing a gorgeous melody evoking a melancholy joy. They sing “Yeah, I chose this life/ a life with no money at all/ and you get what you put in/ if you do what you love/ give in/ just give in.” That is the Papermoons in a nutshell.

The Papermoons’ new album “New Tales” will be available in July on Team Science.
Their tour kicks off on July 11th with their record release at the Backroom at the Mink.


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