PAPA‘s straightforward, big-boned sound is as patriotic as rock gets. New release Tender Madness (which dropped November 4 via Island) is a booming array of Americana gusto and reverent idolatry for all those values that make this great nation worth its salt—lust, youth and the relentless pursuit of a roaring good time.
You might recognize PAPA’s drummer/vocalist Darren Weiss from San Francisco’s own Girls, the now defunct act fronted by the enigmatic Christopher Owens. Girls may have met an early demise, but Weiss’ side-project-turned-main-jam took off after a fermentation period in New York before moving back to Los Angeles. PAPA will be returning to San Francisco on Friday at Bottom of the Hill along with starry dance pop duo Panic is Perfect and Boston’s Bent Shapes (who are signed to local label Father/Daughter).
We caught up with Weiss to chat about the new record, band dynamics, and finding inspiration in new places.
The Bay Bridged: You and Danny (Presant) have known each other since you were just kids. How has that kind of intimate relationship shaped your creative process? Both of you had come from different successful bands previously—with that in mind, how did you influence each other throughout the recording of Tender Madness?
Darren Weiss: Well, since Danny and I grew up together, we got into music around the same time. We started going to see some of the bands that were coming out of Los Angeles at the time, like Bluebird and The Icarus Line. Also we were really obsessed with the touring bands in that culture at the time, like Pleasure Forever and Murder City Devils. So I think as diverse as our tastes and live styles have become, having that common background and affinity for that time and culture has kept us creatively cohesive and excited to work on each other’s material. Having said that, I think it’s our diverse tastes and interests that keep our music pushing forward.
In a previous interview (with Buzzbands.la), you talked about how living in New York influenced the way you approach the creation of art, and how in living there you’re constantly inundated with experiences and human interaction. Can you speak a little bit to how that new outlook went into the nurturing of PAPA?
Well, I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and didn’t always like the things I was raised around. I had toured a fair amount, but had never really been submersed in another culture. I’ve said this before, but I think New York City really allowed me to be as weird as I wanted to be, without making me feel like I was weird at all. A lot of cultural and artistic walls were totally ripped down for me when I moved to Manhattan. Art and music felt like equal extensions of life in the same way that sex and food had been. I got rid of the ideas of genre and so forth and just let things bleed together.
How has living in Los Angeles (and coming up to SF) contributed to your work?
Well, I can’t say that one city has worked better for me over another, but while I might be inspired by more things on a regular basis in NYC, I’ve been able to really dedicate myself to my craft, and my work out here in LA in ways I was never able to on the east coast. The people I’ve worked with in San Francisco, and the work I’ve done there has definitely impacted the work I do with Danny in PAPA, but in the same way that all of our work influences PAPA, we soak up our lives and spit them out new.
Tender Madness has had some great feedback. How has touring gone so far?
Touring on the album has been great, and it’s been a long time coming. We’ve been on the road so much lately that it’s all been bleeding together a bit. We just got back from Europe, so playing places in Iceland and France was new to us, and it was really great to meet those fans and other artists throughout our travels. Each thing just gets me more excited to work on the next step.
Tender Madness has strong elements of love and good old American hedonism. It’s got a pretty big sound too. Can we expect these aspects of the album to come through in the live show? How so?
Expect a few exclamation marks attached what you think you know.
Rumor has it you tend to play shows barefoot—are you going to wear shoes for this one? I mean, it’s at Bottom of the Hill…
HAHA Dirty feet, right? It might be time to break this barefooted habit. After playing so many venues all over the world, my feet have stepped in some disgusting things.
Catch PAPA at Bottom of the Hill this Friday (tickets here), and in the meantime, check out the single “I Am The Lion King” below.
PAPA, Panic is Perfect, Bent Shapes
Bottom of the Hill
November 22, 2013
8:30 pm, $12