Papercuts is an indie-pop band from California, consisting primarily of Jason Robert Quever. Besides creating three albums since 2003, Quever is known for producing and collaborating with many other bands. Here, I talk with Quever about his musical inspirations, what it’s like having his own recording studio and the significance of his third album, You Can Have What You Want.
How was Papercuts created, and what is the band’s current line-up?
I have always considered Papercuts a solo situation, as I’ve been happy to play with whoever I know is available at the time, though at the moment I have a really solid band, and it’s been fun to have good players consistently there. David Enos has been playing keys and doing art since around 2005, and Frankie Koeller and Graham Hill have been solid on bass and drums since this last record was developing. We’re excited to do another one with all four of us, in a more live setting.
Awesome! So how does You Can Have What You Want differ from your previous two albums? Did you use any different techniques, instruments or outside help in order to achieve a desired sound?
Nothing in particular, accept maybe more keyboards and less acoustic guitar, just to change things up a bit.
Do you write your own songs? Where do you draw inspiration from and what is typically your song-writing process?
Yeah, I write my own songs. I don’t know what I get inspired from… I guess whatever makes being creative seem fun and pure and worth it. It’s hard to control or put into words. Sometimes I have the energy and confidence to put things together and call it a song, sometimes I don’t.
What inspired you to first become a musician? Any bands, musicians, or cultural figures, if any, that influenced you when growing up?
I fell in love with the Beatles and Led Zeppelin when I was really young. I have always liked simple music. Late 80’s skate videos also had great music, with bands like Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth and things like that. And of course, 90’s indie, like Belle and Sebastian and Pavement…
All excellent bands, of course… So what made you first want to create the Pan American Recording Studio? Has this allowed you more progress, working in your home vs. another recording studio?
I started it because no one was giving me money to go to a studio and spend the amount of time I felt was necessary to make a record that doesn’t sound like a budget record. I wanted to experiment and look for things you might not get in a hurry. I also love working with talented people for money, so I started convincing people to come record and pay me… you can’t really argue with that.
Not at all. So how does it feel to be compared to acts like The Byrds, Devendra Banhart and The Velvet Underground?
I didn’t know I was compared to these people. It doesn’t seem right, besides maybe the VU. That’s the problem with making records… they stick around forever in peoples minds. I maybe was doing something years ago that had some slight aesthetic similarities to these, (acoustic based) but I don’t like to think about that.
Originality is always best. Now you’ve collaborated, produced and worked alongside many different acts, (as well as having your own band of course.) What is your favorite aspect of working with music? (Do you prefer working behind the scenes or having your own act independent from other side projects? Or is the work encompassing no matter what?)
I like all aspects of music. Writing is my favorite though, and I consider arranging a closely connected part of that. So working with other bands when they let me help arrange is fun, but really I like writing my own songs the best. It’s the most exciting, because there’s nothing holding you back besides your own mind.
Definitely. Who has been your favorite act or musician to work with? Is there any band you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
I love El Perro del Mar and wish I could collaborate with her. I like working with all the bands I’ve toured with or recorded.
What was/is it like touring with acts such as Grizzly Bear, Beach House and Camera Obscura? Any favorite/special shows or city’s you’ve played in?
It’s like seeing a good band every night for a month. It makes you want to get your shit together. Last night was special all right. My guitar kept not working in the middle of the songs in Toronto… it was a nightmare… Then Camera Obscura went out and killed it. I’ll probably never forget that night.
What’s next for Papercuts? Is a fourth album in the works? Is there anything else you individually have going on as far as producing or working with other bands?
I am writing, yes. We are hoping to do something as different as possible, without it feeling weird. I don’t have any other production stuff that is notable right now, but we’ll see…People always need a cheap place to record.
Check out more from Papercuts at MySpace.