Indie folk rock combo The Paper Kites will soon be floating across the country in support of their brand new album, twelvefour, which saw the light of day last month.
BSide Magazine speaks to songwriter and singer Sam Bentley about their third album and an extensive national tour which kicks off in Adelaide next week.
The Melbourne-based band – Ben alongside cousin Josh Bentley, Christina Lacy, Dave Powys and Sam Rasmussen – formed in 2010 after being close friends in high school and sold their initial recordings as homemade CDs at gigs.
Only three years later the band were soaring around the US with City & The Colour and recorded their new album, twelvefour, in Seattle, US, under the guidance of Grammy nominated producer Phil Ek.
twelvefour is a very textured offering which means that each listen reveals new musical delights,
“Yeah,” Ben laughs. “My mother said the exact same thing. And mum and dad actually still actually come to every single Paper Kites show they can which, I think, is a good thing because back in the day they both used to play together in a punk band.”
Ben, who played in a punk band himself while at high school, goes on to say that The Paper Kites came together in an organic way.
“It was just Christina and I at first,” he explains, “and we were playing around the pubs and cafés in Melbourne but decided we wanted to get a band together. So we literally just called on our friends who were musicians.
“And, like we do now, we were doing it pretty much ourselves as much as we could, but were fortunate enough to build quite a decent following,” Ben continues. “And that’s what caught the attention of the managers we have now and all that.
“And, while it’s always been around, I think that back when we began, there was a resurgence on interest in what we were doing in regards to the singer songwriter thing,” he adds. “And bands such as The Middle East and all that were just taking off.”
The Paper Kites spent six weeks in Seatlle making twelvefour at Chris (Death Cab For Cutie) Walla’s Hall Of Justice studio and Avast Recording Company.
“We’d decided that we wanted to record the next album outside of Melbourne,” Ben says. “So, originally we had a studio up in Byron Bay pencilled in as we’d already been in contact with Phil Ek, but he got back to us and asked the band to come over to Seattle.
“And while Phil already knew our sound, I think that was because he knew the two studios there and had thought it would work really well for us,” he continues. “I guess producers don’t like to work in surroundings they are not familiar with and therefore don’t feel comfortable in.
“So, suddenly, we were all on a plane heading off to Seattle on the other side of the world thinking, ‘This is probably far enough away from Melbourne to make a new record’,” Ben laughs. “And it was nice to be away from the day to day distractions of home and be completely focussed on what we were doing.”
A documentary film is also in the process of being made by Matthew J Cox made about The Paper Kites recording twelvefour in Seattle.
“Matthew’s a good friend of ours so I met with him and talked about the concept for the record and he thought it was a good idea,” Ben says. “And then I had to ask the guys in the band if they were interested.
“We don’t really like being on camera – we don’t actually appear in many of our film clips – so I knew all that would come up for discussion,” he continues. “And I remember Christina saying, ‘Why would a band like us, who are not very big, want to do a documentary about making a record?’
“But the idea was more to document making a record rather than the focus being solely on us,” Ben considers. “We wanted to show what happens behind the scenes of recording an album. People pick up and album and listen to it, but not a lot of thought goes into thinking about how it was actually made.”
One of those concepts, which was filmed, was that Ben chose to pen all the songs for twelvefour between the hours of midnight and 4am.
“It was an experiment because I had read that people are more creative between those hours,” the songwriter says. “Apparently, when you are deprived of sleep, you get some good ideas.
“But it’s not something I’d do again,” Ben laughs. “It’s totally exhausting if you are doing it for any longer than a couple of weeks. It was rewarding though and I ended up with about 30 songs that I gave to the band for the album.
“And I explored a lot of genres,” he adds, “mainly because I was just wanting to let the songs be what they wanted to be. There was no restriction placed on my writing style that would have happened if I was writing in normal hours.”
The band will be hitting the road with special guest Patrick James who is about to release his debut album, Outlier.
“We toured with Patrick a couple of years ago,” Ben says in conclusion, “and he’s become a really good friend. His name came up [for this tour] and he happened to be free, so we’re excited to be going out on the road with him again.”
The Paper Kites will fly into the Governor Hindmarsh, 59 Port Rd, Hindmarsh, for an all-ages affair on Thursday 15 October with special guest Patrick James and tickets via the venue or OzTix.