Pop rock outfit Paper Lions are more than just a band with a cool name; they are childhood friends. Formed by brothers John and Rob McPhee in 2007, their neighbor Colin Buchanan joins them, and high school friend David Cyrus McDonald finishes off the set. Locals to Belfast in Prince Edward Island, John describes them simply as “two brothers plus two childhood friends, who love great harmonies, jangly guitars and dancy drums. Think Beach Boys meets Phil Collins.”
Touring across Canada, the USA and Australia over the last couple of years, Paper Lions have gathered a fan base that crosses land and sea. This has been aided by the recording of their upcoming album. “Recording the first single in June with Andrew Maury was fantastic! He’s a very creative guy, and easy to work with. I’d say the main difference this time around was in the sounds that we captured. Really, really great sounds,” says John.
Choosing to give away downloads of their EP Trophies in exchange for email addresses in 2013, the band managed to crash Reddit with the announcement, and they propelled to fame after six years of hard work. Their success continued with their most recent album My Friends. Today, the sound of Paper Lions has evolved from a guitar-driven, sunshine-infused melody to a hipster rock vibe. “The songs on My Friends were all developed in the practice space, jamming as a band,” shares John.
Stepping further into the creative realm, their upcoming release will be their first under the own imprint Fountain Pop Records. “This time around, we’ve been writing in a local studio on Prince Edward Island. This has allowed us to try out a lot of ideas and arrangements that jamming just doesn’t allow. Generally speaking, the new songs are more pop leaning, exciting and energetic.”
Having played together since 2004, the Paper Lions’ career has been peppered with highlights, and many of them have come unexpectedly. “A music video we made in 2007 for our song, ‘Travelling,’ went semi-viral around two years ago. It’s nearing 7,000,000 views and continues to climb higher every day, with people watching from all over the world,” says McPhee. “Perhaps the most surprising part was hearing that a South Korean band performed it as part of their live karaoke set!”
Their 2014/2015 tour to Australia also ranks as a highlight for the foursome. “While it’s not the case in every new country, our recent Australian tour was fantastic! It was our first time there, and we were blown away by the amount of fans coming out to shows, and singing along with the songs.”
Even though the indie rock outfit have known each other since childhood, touring in such close proximity to each other still carries its challenges. So how do they manage it? “With headphones!” says John. “Seriously though, in the small confines of the tour van, learning how to give each other space has been crucial.”
The future is rich in possibilities for the Paper Lions. As they finish up their new album, they anticipate they’ll be “touring like mad,” and bringing their feel-good tunes to people everywhere. “It’s going to be a pop record, really. We’re aiming to make a record of songs that do make people feel good. It’s more fun for listeners, and for us!”