An interview with Papercuts’ Jason Quever
By Christopher Schutte
Papercuts – the musical project of San Francisco songwriter/producer Jason Quever – have just released the fantastic new record, Fading Parade and are now in the midst of an extensive tour that will bring them to Columbus’ Black Box at Mershon on March 24. While known primarily for his “bedroom” recording aesthetic, Quever is on the road with a full band challenged with interpreting his hazy, nostalgia-tinged pop songs. We asked Quever about his new band in an exclusive interview for the Dayton City Paper.
Do you ever envision Papercuts becoming more of a “proper” band?
When I see the word “Papercuts” it’s like seeing the word “Jason.” It just feels like me, I’ve been identifying with that for so long. That said, I’ve got some awesome collaborators in the band right now (Frankie Koeller, David Enos, Graham Hill) so this is probably as band-y as it could get. It’s always going to be a dictatorship. Papercuts is something I invented for myself to have a platform whereby I could create whatever world I wanted to and have no limits beyond my own imagination – a safe haven. I would love to start a collaborative project with someone, but it would have to be called something else. [Jason Quever]
I’ve read a number of references to a Phil Spector, Wall of Sound production style on Fading Parade. Is that something you set out to achieve?
Not at all, it’s an instance of whatever the label puts in the album bio, people tend to hold on to that idea. I didn’t think about Spector much at all, but I do love a lot of what he did, particularly the Ronnettes recordings. We did want a big roomy drum sound and I tended to get a little reverby again on this so I suppose when you add that to some of the more girl group-influenced songs, it’s not surprising it would come off like that. But I swear, I never think about who else a song I’m working on sounds like at the time, I tend to be too close to the song to hear it like others will. [JQ]
I’ve also seen Fading Parade referred to as “dream pop.” I personally see it as a little denser and heavier-hitting than most “dream pop.” Do you pay much attention to these various critic labels and reviews?
When you’re in a band, it’s hard to avoid hearing these things, exactly because of interviews like this. It’s hard to not hear what people think of the record, you just told me (ha). Anyhow, I think dream pop is one of the least offensive labels I could get – it doesn’t bother me for some reason. But if I make another record, I’m dead set on making it less reverby and more up front and dry sounding. I don’t know what we sound like to other people, honestly. Again, I’m too close to it to see obvious things that others can see. So I can’t avoid it but one must take everything that is said about one’s band with a giant grain of salt, because seemingly reliable people often say totally contradictory things about the same music.[JQ]
Your vocals seem to have emerged from the haze of your past recordings. Is this just a natural progression for you, or does it represent an increased confidence in your talent?
I put a little more effort in having vocals performed well enough to have them loud. Also, we mixed on computer so it allowed us to keep nudging them up in volume, because inevitably when you play stuff for people they say “turn up the vocals!” I still don’t love the sound of my voice but I was happy enough with it to have it be clear. At some point I realized I don’t listen to my own records, so make them how others want to hear them, with vocals clear! Also, Thom Monahan mixed the record so he probably created more space just by being a more skilled engineer. [JQ]
It appears on the face of it that shoegaze is an obvious touchstone for you, but I’m guessing your influences – especially in the folk realm – run far deeper. Can you elaborate on this a bit?
I tend to like artists instead of particular genres, you know? I mean, I love My Bloody Valentine and Ride, but that’s about all the “shoegaze” I listen to. I don’t go through tons of records a year, I might fall in love with a couple a year, and those records become parts of my personality. I am in love with Vashti Bunyan right now, and I’ve listened to side one of the rarities/singles disc probably every other day, for the past two years. Same with side one of Hounds of Love by Kate Bush. And I listened to Tusk by Fleetwood Mac probably 200 times in 2010. I don’t really know what folk means to be honest, but I will always love a SONG, and an acoustic guitar and a voice will always be enough for some people to sing a great song. [JQ]
I know I’m pretty old school in this regard (OK, really old school), but I still love great album art and packaging. The cover for Fading Parade seems to perfectly capture the music inside. Is this something you’re cognizant of?
Thank you, yes this is huge to me! I think even with the internet era people end up seeing the cover art a lot, it’s still important. I once had a record cover I didn’t like and it was such a bummer. You have to see your covers a billion times, so you better like it. I was searching through magazines and I saw a picture and noticed a tiny corner of it looked like a painting, so I enlarged it and that was it. It just seemed to fit the title and the concept I had for the record perfectly. I felt like the album was about going through memories of people I had once known but now were blurry in my mind. [JQ]
I’d like to close by asking you to tip off our readers to some other up and comers they should be paying attention to. Anything you’ve heard recently that really stands out for you?
We are touring with Still Corners and Banjo or Freakout, both UK bands that have a really interesting sound and awesome songs. I’m really excited to see them both.
Papercuts will appear at the Black Box on Mershon Stage in Columbus on Thursday, March 24 at 9:00 p.m. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at www.ticketmaster.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Christopher Schutte at firstname.lastname@example.org.