Australian folk rockers The Paper Kites have been good friends of PHILTHY since all the way back in 2013, when they made their first trek through America (including a stop at Johnny Brenda’s). They’ve since returned to the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection nearly countless times, playing many of our favorite local venues. The last time we saw them was a little less than a year ago, when they headlined Underground Arts, in support of the two full-length records they released last year, One the Train Ride Home and On the Corner Where You Live. The Paper Kites have spent much of the time since on the road and they are currently on their biggest US tour to date and will be playing the Sanctuary of The First Unitarian Church next Friday, October 4th. Although I normally chat with drummer Josh Bentley, earlier this week I got a chance to chat with vocalist/guitarist Sam Bentley about what the band’s been up to in the past year.
Izzy Cihak: I normally speak to Josh, so I’m curious to hear what you think about Philadelphia. You’ve played here tons of times, from Johnny Brenda’s to World Café Live, MilkBoy, and Underground Arts. What do you think about the city? Any favorite experiences here? Josh always mentions the cheesesteaks.
Sam Bentley: We’ve played in Philly quite a lot of times but we’ve never really had much time to go out and see the city, so for me, I’m still working the place out. The shows have always been fun and the people have been great. I’d love to get a chance to see the town a little more this time.
Izzy: The last time I spoke to the band was just about a year ago. What have been some of the highlights of the past year of The Paper Kites?
Sam: Really just touring I think – especially this North American tour we’re on right now – it’s been so great. It’s our first time ever touring in a bus. We’re only a week in, but so far it’s been a whole new experience to being on the road and we’ve been loving playing these shows, meeting people after the shows and hearing their stories. Since putting out those two records last year I think the hope is always that it connects with people in some kind of way – but you never actually know until you get on the road and play the shows and see people react to it. It’s been really special.
Izzy: What are currently your biggest inspirations? Is there anything you’ve been listening to a lot of recently, or doing a lot of recently, or just thinking about a lot recently that you feel like may be influencing your future sounds?
Sam: It’s always changing, my influences that is, whether it’s films or literature or music I’m drawing from. It’s just whatever strikes me at the time as something worth taking note of – it’s something that you feel or hear and it often stops you dead in your tracks. I think my real influences I play quite close to my chest because they’re quite personal, when you find your muse wherever you find it – it’s something that whispers to you and only you – or it seems that way – that if you ever speak about it, it might leave you entirely. I think I’ve always wanted to be the sort of band that people hold very close, very secretively, because of what it means to them. I think of my influences in the same way.
Izzy: Are there any shows you’re especially excited to play, or just cities that you’re especially excited to visit or revisit?
Sam: Nowhere stands out more than anywhere else I don’t think – the shows down south from Houston to Atlanta are all cities that we’ve never done headline shows in before so that’s going to be great to finally play there – but I don’t think we’ve marked any show as more important than another and we love coming back to places we’ve been. To be honest, we’ve found it’s always the shows that you build up that let you down when you don’t play as well as you wanted to, and it’s the shows you didn’t expect that come out as being the best. So now we just try and have no expectations. Having said that, there’s cities we love going to for sure – but really any chance we have to play our music over here, in any town, and people show up to see us – that’s a great feeling no matter where you are.
Izzy: You play a lot of really diverse types of venues. I mean, on this run your DC/Alexandria show is in a sit-down room that looks like a VFW hall where you’d hold a raffle to raise money for the town’s hs football team, and the next night, when you’re here, you’re playing an historic church. Do you have particular settings or venues that most like playing?
Sam: We don’t really specify the type of venues we want to play, we go anywhere and have played all sorts of rooms over the years. We did talk about doing some seated theatres and clubs on this tour and wanted to do as many as we could, because we’ve planned the show that way and we think seated shows work well for our music. But we sort of have two different shows because we couldn’t make them all seated so there’s a set for the seated shows and a set for the standing shows. Generally though, standing or sitting, the people that come to our shows and pretty respectful of the music so it works either way.
Izzy: What can be expected of the live show this time around?
Sam: Come and see.
Izzy: And how do you hope and plan to finish up 2019, after these dates wrap? Anything particular in the works?
Sam: We’re working on some new music, just looking at the best time to start recording it. Probably nothing else this year, but definitely next year.