The last time Paper Route (Nick Aranda, JT Daly and Chad Howat) came to Los Angeles, it was March with springtime weather that could be described as downright pleasant and agreeable. This time’s it’s mid-June and…well, it’s really hot. Almost stiflingly so as they sound check inside the Echo where they would perform later in the eve. This show would serve up fan favorites from their first two records like “Gutter” and “Are We All Forgotten” from Absence and “Letting You Let Go” and “Sugar” from The Peace of Wild Things, as well as air out new selections such as “Chariots” and “Laugh About It” from their upcoming third album, Real Emotion, which will be the Nashville band’s first output on Kemosabe/Sony Records along with their most prolific: 16 songs deep.
Upstairs at the Echo in a room markedly cooler than the floor below, Chad and JT sit still long enough to talk about the record, burgers and bravely venturing into the fancy world of social media.
High Voltage: The first thing that I had to ask was number one: 16 songs? What’s that all about?
Chad: I mean, if you’re going to go for it, you might as well really, really go for it. We had a lot of long conversations about that and, at one point, we were even talking about doing a double album, but we were like we know that’s just not going to happen.
JT: But technically, I mean, wasn’t the M83 album 16 songs?
Chad: Whatever the double album was, I think it might have been.
JT: I think it was.
JT: Yeah. We trimmed the fat and we ended up with 16 and we’re like we’re going to do this. It’s a complete thought so we’re going to stick to our guns and release it.
HV: And I did wonder how many songs you cycled through to pare it down to 16?
Chad: It was a lot. You know there’s a lot that we were proud of, maybe equally proud of that we just haven’t finished. I think…what is the saying: “Albums aren’t finished, they’re abandoned” and I think we just decided to abandon it with the songs we had and felt like they were working together in unison. It was awesome because we’d never done it before. It was another reason. Whatever we’ve done before, let’s do something different,…let’s make something that’s a little bit more extreme so that we can explore some other things.
HV: Because it [Real Emotion] sounds a little different. I mean The Peace of Wild Things was as shift from Absence and this is totally different than those two. One of my favorite things about your music is that it’s always emotionally present. There’s always vivid emotion going on and…do you do the majority of the song writing right, JT?
JT: I think the reason why people have stuck with us for so long, not to slight the other people who have played with us, but it’s just been the core of big runs always been Chad and I. The band started with him and me singing on tracks and – yeah – I think that, technically, even though we’ve had lineup changes the band really hasn’t changed. It’s always been this.
Chad: JT lyrically…if you talk about lyrically, he’s especially wrote the lion’s share of the lyrics on this album…
HV: …and the last time that we spoke, you said you were proud of this record because it was your most honest. Why?
Chad: I think because in our youth it’s a lot more fun to talk about how horrible things are sometimes and just kind of be a slacker and I think that, lyrically, I felt like it was time to grow up a little, and it was time to face some of those insecurities…and it was time really learn how to love people intimately instead of just love them from a distance. It’s really kind of heal, evolve, move on.
HV: About your Facebook live videos series that you’ve been doing which I think is fantastic. It’s a great way to interact with the band.
Chad: We got one!
HV: Yeah! Why did you decide to do that and what do you guys get out doing it? Besides going on at the airport for 26 minutes.
Chad: Gosh, yeah. Sorry about that. (laughs)
HV: No, it’s so great. I thought I was just going to watch for a couple of minutes and I watched the whole thing.
Chad: Well, I think it’s trying to evolve with the times and it’s the hot new thing. Social media is like these live, contemporary things and – at least for me – my natural instinct is to just kind of be like I don’t need any more of that in my life. Like I’m good, but then it’s kind of like, “No. Let’s just explore what it means for us to do our own version of this and see what it could become.” I guess we’re not too shy about experimenting with the new social media platforms. Sometimes we’re early adopters. Sometimes we’re late. We just got a Tumblr, finally. This brand new site called Tumblr.
JT: Yeah. Without an E.
HV: That’s so hip. So hip.
Chad: We just wanted to have fun with it and I think we’re much more comfortable now with our senses of humor. I think that we don’t really care for music that’s, like, particularly funny or full of humor a lot of times, but I think we’ve all found that some very serious artists are actually pretty funny, lighthearted people in parts of their life persona and I think we were just…that’s definitely a part of who we are so we have fun. We make each other laugh and we just thought we would open the doors to that for our fans who want to be a part of that. Answer questions. It’s fun.
HV: It’s good that you finally got comfortable with that. One of the things I wanted to know is with the video series you were talking about burgers. Did you get your In-N-Out?
Chad: We went immediately to In-N-Out and made a terrible choice but we loved it.
JT: Yeah. We’re going to do a burger tour and the band basically did a burger tour while making this album. Probably had 8 or 10 burgers in Nashville. We tried to rank them.
Chad: It was so funny.
HV: You should put that on your Tumblr without an E. That should be an actual blog.
JT: We could and we should.
Chad: We could re-document that.
HV: So who’s had the best burgers that you’ve had?
JT: In Nashville…
Chad: Oh man. Well, you’re going to get slightly different answers from all of us, but what’s your favorite?
JT: Martin’s is my favorite burger.
Chad: Well, that’s mine too.
Chad: It’s a barbecue place! It’s great for pulled pork and brisket, but their burger is…
JT: People don’t know. Just order the normal burger. It’s phenomenal. That’s amazing. Husk was amazing.
Chad: Husk was one of my favorites. Then there’s stuff like Dino’s if you want the late night 1am burger, Dino’s.
JT: The chefs’ hanging place. The people that have the sexy restaurants and they close up and they come over and have just a Dino’s burger.
HV: Are you going to – throughout this tour – try and find the best burger wherever you stop?
Chad: No. We’re going to try and find the closest YMCA to work the burgers off.
JT: Making a record is very different than touring. No one has to see you when you’re making a record…
Chad: …we’re paying for it so we’re going to be finding the closest gyms.
HV: We do this video series and part of it is we do a quick fire round and ask the most random questions. Simple things like: Chad, DC or Marvel?
Chad: Oh, Marvel for sure.
HV: JT, Marvel?
JT: Marvel. Absolutely.
HV: How do you take your coffee?
Chad: Black, iced.
HV: You take tea? Awesome.
Chad: Mine’s black and iced.
JT: I just love that you’re like, “Mine’s black and iced.”
Chad: If people are listening and if fans ever want to show up with a gift card to a local coffee shop…
JT: Chad…this honestly is love language: Mine is spirits, his is…
Chad: Iced coffee.
HV: All right: Coke or Pepsi?
Chad: Don’t leave me high and dry.
JT: All right, I’m sorry…Coke. I prefer…
Chad: What do you want to mix with your drinks?
JT: (sighs) I guess Coke. Less sugar.
HV: Super power you would want to have?
Chad: Super power…I will say teleportation because I don’t like sitting in a car.
JT: Oh my gosh! Listen to you!
Chad: I could of gone home, took a nap after sound check in my own bed in Nashville with air conditioning…
JT: What do I like? Let’s figure out what I don’t like and then we’ll do the opposite of that.
Chad: That’s a good idea.
JT: This has to be fast doesn’t it, and I’m already defeating the purpose…
HV: Normally, if this were on video it would have to be fast.
JT: What do I hate?
Chad: What do you hate? I don’t know what you hate.
JT: I don’t really know what I hate either.
Chad: Not being prepared.
JT: Yeah. I would be organized. I would be the organizer.
Chad: Organizer. You’re about to get organized!
JT: Watch out ladies!
HV: So officially your answer is “organizer.”
JT: Yeah. I’m the organizer. I’m going to the books on that one.
HV: How about those little time turners so you just have more time to organize?
JT: Time travel. I want to time travel so hard!
Chad: Ooh. Time travel like James Franco?
JT: Well yeah, but a better version of James Franco because this water bottle is a better actor than James Franco.