It’s been ten years since local indie-folk band Paper Bird formed, and just under that since its celebrated debut album, Anything Nameless and Joymaking, was unleashed. The band has managed to maintain commendable traction since then, and the musicians are about to celebrate their decade in existence by releasing their eighth album (including live records). This one is self-titled, a nudge to the listener that this marks a new beginning, thanks to the addition of vocalist Carleigh Aikins.
Guitarist Paul DeHaven says that the band has been reinvented since Aikins came on board, and the new material will confirm that. The band has taken on a more electric vibe, switching out the upright bass for a standard electric bass guitar, utilizing keyboards and electric guitars. But Aikins has also introduced geographical challenges.
“I had met her through friends down at SXSW,” DeHaven says. “She was playing with a band called Bahamas, and we hit it off. We did a bit of collaborating before she joined the band, and then it came time for one of our singers [Esme Patterson] to take off. It was perfect timing. Carleigh had been looking for a new band to join as well. The only problem is she lives in Toronto, but we’ve been able to make it work so far.”
For a band based in Colorado, having a member who lives in Toronto means frequent flights for rehearsals, shows and tours. The band occasionally meets in Toronto or somewhere midway on the road. However they play it, Aikins's inclusion means that extra planning is required.
“I know a lot of people do that and make it work that way,” DeHaven says. “It’s worth it to us, to have her on the team. She became family so fast, and such an integral part of who we are. It’s just the right place at the right time.”
Naturally, the rest of the band's members are constantly trying to convince Aikins to relocate, but the singer has family ties and, basically, a life. Plus, the group is planning to spend so much time on the road in the immediate future that it will barely matter. That said, Paper Bird will start with a number of Colorado dates, including a record-release show at an old haunt, Twist & Shout, where they recorded a live album back in 2009.
“They’ve been huge supporters of the band,” DeHaven says. “That show’s the day before the release. It’s a kick-off to the tour, when we’ll go out and take the world by storm. It’ll be nice to start it at home, in a familiar place.”
That new album has been produced in Nashville by John Oates of Hall & Oates fame, an experience that DeHaven describes as a dream come true.
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“He was great,” he says. “You would expect somebody who has been in the business that long to be jaded, but he’s just a sweetheart. He came to our house in Evergreen twice to work on music with us. He helped us out and brought us to Nashville to do the recording. He knows what he’s doing, and he’s a great songwriter. It was a fantastic year. He’s still in love with making music, and he lives mentoring younger bands.”
The rest of the year will see the band pretty much living on the road, which suits them just fine. This is an act embarking on a new beginning with a new singer and a new album. After a decade, Paper Bird is just hitting its stride.
Paper Bird plays at 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 8, at Twist & Shout Records; 2508 East Colfax Avenue, 303-772-1943.