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- Posted on Oct 6th 2011 3:38PM by Theo Spielberg
His voice has a hint of nostalgia; though Los Angeles natives, the band formed in New York. They are happy to be back although two of the members, Darren and Evan Weiss, are run ragged from doing double duty with their tourmates Girls.
"Look at me. I look like s--," singer and drummer Darren says. "I feel like s--. But I'm doing what I love."
On this tour, Darren must reprise his singing and drumming role for Girls' headlining set. "Girls is fortunate enough to have these three beautiful backup singers," he explains to Spinner through strained vocal chords. "They're just spectacular but they're only with us in some of the major cities across the United States. So most nights after singing through full sound checks and a full PAPA set, I have to sing backups through an hour-and-a-half Girls set. The combination of that and not sleeping very much at all has just been wearing on me."
The various aspects of Darren's touring schedule have conspired to wipe out his voice for the bands' two Bowery Ballroom shows, arguably the biggest shows of their North American tour. Despite his vocal exhaustion, PAPA are on the upswing. "I've had a lot of years in my life to just be selfish and have personal time and have fun," he states calmly, no complaints. "Now is the time to work -- that's just the bottom line. And I love the work I'm doing. I'm just f---ing tired."
Between their tour with the indie darlings of the moment and a recent mention on Pitchfork, the band is settling into a sure-footed groove, one that is reflected in performances of songs like 'I Am the Lion King.' There's a lothario balladry that runs through the length of PAPA's debut EP 'A Good Woman Is Hard to Find,' that lends the release a rolling swagger: The stuff of boozy nights on dirty streets.
PAPA's tour hasn't been all nose to the grindstone, though. Presant's levity contrasts well with the Weiss brothers' lighthearted weariness: "Our rides consist of me asking Fischel, 'Yo, so are you ready yet?" he quips about riding with absent fourth member Alex Fischel in the keyboardist's Honda Element and separately from Girls' touring van. "I've asked him probably seven times on this trip. I say, 'At the end of the tour lets just put a hose in there and sit in there' -- literally have a real carpool."
PAPA is Darren's brainchild. He formed an early manifestation of the band upon settling in New York on the heels of several years of on and off touring with Wires on Fire and Simon Dawes (now Dawes). After having been through multiple incarnations over the course of the last several years and on both coasts of the United States, PAPA seem to have coalesced. Though every member of PAPA is actively involved in other projects, none of them see that activity as impinging in any way on their commitment to the band.
"In all other genres it's less of a big deal: Country, hip hop, jazz, everyone f---s with everyone," guitarist Evan Weiss explains. "For some reason in rock music there's this weird exclusivity. I understand that gang mentality and I always wanted that sort of a band where it's us versus the world, but it's never really worked out for me."
PAPA's brand of rock takes the lighter pop numbers that brought Girls into the spotlight and lays it at the crossroads of punk and post-punk circumscribed by the Clash and the Talking Heads. There's a keen sense of Americana that weaves itself into the fabric PAPA's songs, a Springsteen or Petty-esque of travel-tested wisdom, which at the Bowery shows are underlined by Weiss' scratchy delivery -- his voice sounds like it has trawled the great American expanse.
"Danny and I have really different styles of writing," Darren tells Spinner. "I still write with an acoustic guitar and my demos usually sound like some kind of weird f---ed-up folk thing with lead lines and writing harmonies. I demo it all myself. Danny's style of writing is that he makes just really awesome beats that sound like hip hop smash singles and then we f--- it up enough to make it sound like Papa."
PAPA plans to record a full-length in December, but until then you can sate yourself with their EP 'A Good Woman Is Hard to Find,' which is available now via Psychedelic Judaism/Hit City U.S.A.