Blowing in the wind

Yellow Paper Planes land in Dayton

By Tim Anderl

Photo: Yellow Paper Planes will perform on Oct. 23 at Blind Bob’s; photo: Brian Kellett

Columbus quartet Yellow Paper Planes is a bit of a musical enigma. They’re indie without being twee, heavy but not aggro. Some will describe them as pop for punks who like country, or folk for people who hate folk. With whatever label they emerge, one thing’s for sure: The band writes songs that stretch the boundaries and notions of any easy genre classification.

Re-forming after the band’s dissolution, drummer Brandon Woods and frontman Joshua P. James picked up a new bassist, Peter Mendenhall (Go Analog, Hocking River String Band) and keys/guitar player, Jeremy Ebert (The Driftwood Motion) and began charting a newly invigorated course in the fall of 2013. A spiral fracture in Woods’ right hand put the skids on progress leading them into the studio, and after a tumultuous couple of years, the struggles provided James with new insight into his own strengths and weaknesses.

Dayton City Paper caught up with James to discuss Feathers Touch, the EP they recorded the winter of 2014 and self-released this summer and their forthcoming trip to Dayton.

Is Yellow Paper Planes the vehicle where you first found your footing as a singer-songwriter or have you done this before?

Joshua P. James: This is probably a question better answered once I’ve found my footing, but to your point, I got started playing and writing pretty late in life, relatively. I didn’t attempt playing the guitar until I was shipwrecked on a couch in Moscow, Idaho, the summer after my junior year of college. Once I moved to Columbus, I performed solo for a couple years before putting out a record backed by my current drummer, Brandon Woods, and an upright bassist, Evan Parker.

YPP has been the first time I’m writing with a band, which has been invigorating and challenging, if at times frustrating because the holes I’m intentional leaving for a band need to be converted by the rest of the band in a way that resembles what I originally imagined. Sometimes that transference from brain to mouth to someone else’s brain to their fingertips leaves a lot of opportunities for leakage. Since the EP has been released, though, we’ve been putting things together really well, not needing to labor too much, which feels a bit like footing.

What were you hoping to accomplish with the EP? 

JPJ: We took what seemed like an eon to group and regroup and start to arrive at what I imagined for YPP, so the EP vs. a full length was sort of a move out of practicality. I felt like we needed to get something done and out to start passing around because the only recorded tunes at our disposal were the ones from the aforementioned solo-ish record, which I didn’t feel represented us well.

The plan with the EP was to create a sort of calling card, get some people talking about it and spinning a track or two as we geared up for the full length. That is still the plan, but the EP has gotten some interesting attention from a couple avenues we weren’t really ready to think about. So, that has us shifting the business mind a little and making more of a plan for the proper full length. I think people are going to dig what comes next.

Is there a theme or message you were hoping to communicate?

JPJ: The theme of the EP is reckoning. Not in a “you tell ’em I’m coming and hell’s coming with me” sort of a way, but a more personal reckoning of themes that had occupied my head space for a while. Each song we chose for Feather’s Touch contains its own message in that way. It’s all stuff that is much closer to my vest than material I’ve written in the past.

How do you hope that people describe YPP to their friends?

JPJ:
I’m always interested to know what people think we sound like. If we’re chatting up folks after a show or the bartender at the end of the night, we welcome the one-liners like, “You know you guys kinda remind me of [fill-in-the-blank].” We’ve gotten a diverse assortment of those. Recently, someone at a show in Canton pulled “early Neva Dinova” which is an interesting and not entirely inaccurate comparison, I suppose. We haven’t really come up with our own elevator pitch yet. I hope it’s hard enough to pin down, but engaging enough that people tell their friends that they just have to hear it or see it for themselves.

Will this be your first trip to Dayton? 

JPJ:
This will be the first time YPP has played Dayton. We’ve tried several times to tack a stop in Dayton onto small out-of-town trips, but haven’t been able to sync it up. So, this time we tossed out a few dates independent of any touring we were planning. We got Oct. 23 to land and we’re pumped to turn it up at Blind Bob’s.

Yellow Paper Planes performs Friday, Oct. 23 at 9 p.m. at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St. Colossal Brother, Pop Goes The Evil and Forage will also perform. The concert is open to patrons 21 and up. For more information, please visit yellowpaperplanes.com.

Tim Anderl is the web editor and a contributing writer at Ghettoblaster Magazine and maintains his own music blog at youindie.com. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Anderl at TimAnderl@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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