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Darren Weiss’ Brainchild PAPA to Release Debut Album, Tour With Cold War Kids

PAPA interview, Darren Weiss interview, PAPA tour 2013, PAPA, Darren Weiss, Sam Monkarsh

Photo by Sam Monkarsh

Los Angeles band PAPA will perform with Cold War Kids on Saturday, Sept. 21 at Orpheum Theatre in Flagstaff and Sunday, Sept. 22 at Crescent Ballroom. The performance comes just a couple weeks before the release of the band’s debut album Tender Madness (pre-order).

The group is led by former Girls member Darren Weiss and comprised of  Weiss’ childhood friend Danny Presant, brother Evan Weiss and musician Alex Fischel. PAPA has already released a 7” single “Put Me to Work“/”If You’re My Girl Then I’m Your Man” and A Good Woman Is Hard to Find EP, toured with acts such as Handsome Furs and Matt and Kim, and held a residency at LA’s The Bootleg Theater.

Frontman Weiss spoke to The Spec about Tender Madness, the music video for “Young Rut,” New York, residencies and more. Read the full interview below…

The Spec: What is something new that PAPA fans can expect to hear on the forthcoming album? And what is something familiar that PAPA fans can anticipate on the new release?
Darren Weiss: I hope most everything on this album will sound like something new to our fans, both new and old. We spent a lot of time making sure nothing felt familiar even to ourselves while making this record. Don’t they say, “the only thing you can depend on is change”?

TS: How did you come up with the name Tender Madness and how does this correlate with the sound and/or theme of the release?
DW: The album name is something that I’ve actually been carrying around with me for years. I bought the Sonny Rollins album Tenor Madness back in high school, and when the album cover, I misread it, and thought it said “Tender Madness” and immediately fell in love with that phrase. I knew it captured something, but I couldn’t quite grasp what it was. It just felt like something I knew forever. I’ve made several albums since that time, but once these songs were compiled, and I could sort of look at them together as an art piece from a bit of a distance, I instantly knew what it was. It was Tender Madness. There is also a song on the album called “Tender Madness,” which is a very unique one to the album. Romance and insanity are all over this record, and most of the time, they really seem like the same thing to me.

TS: Are you excited to be opening some shows for Cold War Kids during this tour?
DW: Absolutely. We just recently finished a leg of touring with them and we had a blast. We’re all looking forward to traveling more of the country together.

TS: Can you tell us about the idea behind the “Young Rut” video, did you leave it entirely up to the director’s interpretation or were you involved as a creative director as well?
DW: This was actually the first time since the band started that we did not come up with the concept for one of our videos. We were kicking a few of our own ideas around, and also taking in treatments from various directors, and when we came across Norton’s treatment, we were all a bit swooned. I think immediately, it brought a fresh perspective to what the song meant to us. We spoke with him before shooting about certain things we wanted to come across, and what we wanted to avoid. But it was mainly our director’s concept and vision on this one.

TS: You did a residency at The Bootleg Theater in LA at the start of this year. How important and/or effective do you think doing local residencies is for up-and-coming bands? What is your favorite thing about those events?
DW: I loved that time. I think so many up-and-coming bands are consumed with the idea of making a name for themselves, and everybody seems to think that the only way to do that is to open bands that are bigger than your own. Sure, that’s one way, but I think the most effective and powerful way for a band to claim their own space, is to build something of their own. Create the scene you want to be part of. The worst thing a young band can do, or any band really, is to sit around waiting for something to happen. A residency is a set of free shows for people to come to where you set the terms, curate your own night, and let your fans see what you’re really about, what you’re trying to put out there, and show the fuckers what you can do every week. Just get to work already.

TS: You’ve mentioned before that you don’t believe PAPA would have happened had you stayed in LA, but much of the upcoming release was created after you moved back to LA. How do you think LA has influenced your sound on Tender Madness? Does NY still have an influence on your music?
DW: That’s a good question. Personally, where I’m at now, New York feels a bit like a distant dream to me. But, we definitely haven’t forgotten about, or lost our connection to the things that turned us on there, and that inspired to make this band what it is. There is that saying “Wherever you go, there you are,” which I think is generally used in a negative way, but it obviously works just as well for the positive aspects about oneself and one’s experiences. All the madness and dirt we experienced in New York is as much a part of us now as it was when we were living there. We just have more experiences stacked on top of that now.

TS: Using only one word, describe how PAPA the band was when it first started? What word would you use to describe it today?
DW: wild/hungry

PAPA interview, Darren Weiss interview, PAPA tour 2013, PAPA, Darren Weiss, Sam MonkarshTS: You’ve played as PAPA in Arizona before and on this upcoming tour you have three Arizona dates, anything in particular you enjoy about AZ crowds or the state itself?
DW: We always have a great time in Arizona, and I’m excited to go back to venues and friends we’ve played for in the past. We’ve never played in Flagstaff, but we’ve slept there three or four times through our travels, and it’s a really beautiful city – really unique to the state, so I can’t wait to see what that show is going to be like

TS: How is it being able to make music and perform with a childhood friend (Danny Presant) AND your brother (Evan Weiss)? Did you ever imagine you’d be able to work so closely with people you love?
DW: I never really had to imagine it, because Danny and Evan were the first two people I ever played music with, so it’s the most familiar musical situation I know. Having said that, because we know each other so well, we know when and how to push each other, and our ability to communicate musically with one another is really special because we’ve sort of developed our craft together in different ways over the years.

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