INTERVIEW: Paper Route Dive Deep Into ‘Real Emotion’

They say you need to break out of your comfort zone to create something magical. We guess you could say that notion is a familiar case for Nashville music veterans, Paper Route, as the band set up a makeshift studio in the middle of nowhere in the hills of Middle Tennessee to craft their upcoming third record, Real Emotion, due out on September 23.

The ambient/rock trio – comprised of JT Daly, Nick Aranda and Chad Howat – have always thrived on experimentation, their previous material being a prime example, but this record dives deeper into themes of intimacy and vulnerability with a touch of anxiety for good measure, making Real Emotion an alternate form of therapy for the listener.

We chatted with JT and Nick about what we can expect on the new record, their views on the music industry and what new music they’re excited for this fall!

I’ve always considered your sound to be pretty massive. The first time I heard “Gutter” back in 2009 I was completely blown away. You were way ahead of the curve then. How would you best describe your upcoming album, Real Emotion, in a nutshell? 

JT Daly: Thank you for paying attention to us in 2009. No artist wants to make the same album twice, so a lot has changed. I’d say the biggest change is the guitar on this album. There are a lot of moments where it is the featured instrument. We used to shy away from the guitar because we didn’t have a real guitar player in the band. We’ve since added a member (Nick Aranda) and he has remedied this.

Nick ArandaReal Emotion is a musical and emotional world we intended to be explored by listeners. It’s intensely personal, but it’s not a closed experiment at all. This is why we thought it worked perfectly to actually build a physical room, minus a 4th wall, for the artwork. It’s a more tactile album, with more organic components than previous work.  Lots of guitar, piano, even synthetic sounds created with real sounds using techniques like piano recorded at various speeds. We wanted people to explore those sounds the same way we did, with your ears sort of guiding the whole trip.

What can listeners expect to hear on this record in terms of lyrical content?   

JT Daly: A lot of questions. A few songs about how love is terrifying. And as a general theme, mental health.

You guys moved into a cabin and set up a makeshift studio for the making of the new record. I’ve learned you also did the same thing for your last record. What would you say is the biggest creative hurdle you faced while recording in the middle of nowhere? Did you accomplish what you initially set out to do? 

Nick Aranda: I would say that the largest creative hurdle was completed BY going into the middle of nowhere.  Starting an album is always the hardest part.  Life itself, in all its familiarness and regularity, tends not to produce the conditions for starting an album like isolation can. I feel like as a musician, learning a new place engages a lot of listening.  So if you fill that new space with lots of musical noise, it can really draw creativity right to the surface.

JT Daly: We’re very aware of what non-traditional spaces do to the creative process. It’s very easy to feel like you’re always creating when you’re isolated. You can’t create unless you’re inspired, so in that sense, yes we accomplished what we set out to do with finishing Real Emotion.

“Chariots” is pretty fantastic! What inspired that one? Are you already thinking about how you’re going to interpret these tracks live? 

Nick Aranda: My favorite part of this story is that there was a brand of water in the Fiji airport (Not to be confused with the brand FIJI) called Golden Pash.  Chad saw that and immediately was like, ‘this has to be a demo title,’ and got to work making the track. It would have been the song title I bet had JT not had a really fantastic lyrical vision for this one. We’ve actually already started playing it live, and I have to admit I was surprised at how effortlessly it translated. It’s really about the spaces where energy and softness interact with each other to me.

You guys have been at this for over a decade now. Obviously, the music industry has changed drastically since then. What would you change about the industry, if you could? What excites you about it? 

JT Daly: Is social media something I can change?!! If so, that’s why I would want to get rid of. It has neutered the mystery and left us all with hollow “rock stars.” Can you imagine seeing what David Bowie ate for breakfast? Or watch Robert Plant on the side of the road fixing his flat tire on the band’s trailer? It was limited access to these people that helped make them the icons that they are. It’s the mystique that helped them believe in their own magic. What I’m excited about, is that somehow we have to evolve and use this immediate gratification / all access world in a creative way. There are people that have really spun it and used it to their advantage. Father John Misty is one of those people. Even though he’s letting you in – it’s creating even more mystery. He’s hilarious, well spoken, and a great artist.

Besides your own record, what are some fall releases you guys are excited about?  

JT Daly: Nick Cave is my favorite artist of all time and the new Bad Seeds album, Skeleton Tree, comes out soon. Can’t wait.

Pre-order Real Emotion here.