The TVD Interview

Paperhaus, the Washington, DC foursome who reside in the DIY collective space also known as “The Paperhaus,” have released two EPs and have plans to record a full-length album this summer.

Alex Tebeleff, Eduardo Rivera, John Di Lascio, and Brandon Moses will release the second EP, Lo Hi Lo (physical copies only) TONIGHT (3/15) at their EP release show at the Rock and Roll Hotel, presented by DC Music Download for its one-year anniversary. The start of a long two-month tour will be fully funded by their Kickstarter campaign, which has only seven days left and is at 70% of its $10,000 goal.

On a perfect Sunday afternoon in Petworth, we were greeted by a live version of “All Through the Night,” a new song from their upcoming EP. After our private serenade, we nestled comfortably on the sunny back porch and talked about how Paperhaus has become an an integral part of the DC DIY music scene, creating music for the community, their Kickstarter campaign, and their love of vinyl.

Is the Petworth neighborhood accepting of Paperhaus as a space for DIY shows and your music in general?

Brandon: Yeah, we just had a neighbor come over and try to produce an album for us! (laughs) Kids used to come over and play and bang on the drums. Alex, especially, has always reached out to the kids in the neighborhood.

Alex: The neighbors are super supportive. Sometimes when we play, they come by and sit on the grass and listen to the music.

John: We want to have good relations with our neighbors. If we were having fights with the neighbors, it would mess up our chi. If we had to cut everything off at 11, we’d do it, but so far everyone is really great, and the neighbors even come over for our shows. There really isn’t a better place to live in than in Petworth; the people who live here really are a community.

Eduardo: Petworth is a cool neighborhood. Our friends from Lightfoot, Rick, Adam, and Eric, have a studio down the street. That’s where John recorded his solo stuff.

John: It’s still very homey—people just sit around on their porches. There are very few places that get away with being a regular house/show spot.

Brandon: I feel like if your heart is in the right place ,and you don’t try and make it something too defined, it tends to work out. There are these kids that call themselves the Tenley Empire, and they book at Casa Fiesta in Tenleytown. They basically get that space free, and all the money goes to the bands. There’s a natural ebb and flow. As spaces close down, other spaces will pop up.

Do you want other people to know that this is going on? Paperhaus does a really great job of promoting the house, but still keeps it somewhat under wraps.

Brandon: As far as promoting a space is concerned, that’s one thing. Finding ways to have a scene reach a particular audience is the best thing. The best way to have a DIY space is to naturally let the word of mouth happen.

Alex: We are not trying to promote Paperhaus, and we aren’t trying to make it bigger or smaller. Everything happens naturally; that’s the mentality we try to maintain. We book bands that are good, people come, music is played, and it all works out. I think karma protects us in that sense.

DC is not known for its DIY house scene outside of DC. There are good bands that want to come to cities to play houses, but don’t think of DC as one of those places. Recently one band asked if the Fugazi House was still around as a place to play, which shows you how unknown it is. There are enough people in DC who care, but there’s something missing to glue it all together.  How do you build the right exposure to promote the scene without compromising the house itself?

Brandon: I’ve done shows for bands from Australia. There’s definitely a worldwide connection, but at the same time Merge Records isn’t asking what’s going on at the Paperhaus this weekend. When Chad Clark from Beauty Pill went to Pitchfork about the live recording of his record at Artisphere, they told him, “Yeah we love your band, but DC doesn’t really have a narrative when it comes to music, so we won’t be able to cover that.”

So, when you look at it from that perspective, compared to New York or LA, the DC scene seems like a more work-orientated lifestyle. It’s going to take a lot of written exposure to create a DC narrative. I feel like the whole blogosphere might help, but right now it’s trending more towards a focus on lifestyle rather than music.

Alex: There is also a certain amount of professionalism that DC lacks.

John: That’s why people have a hard time giving back to DC when they leave—because they may not have felt supported.

Eduardo: Recently over the past two years, I see a lot more bands come out to shows for all local acts. That’s one of the ways to build a scene, other bands supporting each other.

You’ve said that being in DC right now feels like the right place at the right time. You all have the desire to immerse yourselves in our nation’s capital. You all show a strong passion for what happens in DC and all have stayed here for the music. The connection you seek to make as a band and a movement is essential. Can you talk about that?

Alex: I think a connection with the music and the community is fundamental. The role music plays for me really started to come together when I began reading about indigenous cultures and seeing the roles music played in people’s lives. Now, I love music where you sit back with your headphones and disappear in the glitches and glops, but the role of music is to bring the people in a community together—it should be shared. I don’t think it’s very healthy to make music and keep it to yourself.

One of the most misunderstood philosophers is Nietzsche. You can boil it down to two things with him. He believed that nihilism was the worst way that human beings could possibly think. His philosophy was basically a fight against nihilism. He also put things in terms of health. What’s healthy for people? He thought of morality in terms of health, and what is healthy for people in DC is music. This is a city where people need a release; it’s healthy for them to get out and hear music.

John: Going back to indigenous cultures, people played one kind of music—which in a lot of ways was a form of communication and a way to bring everyone together.

How do you bring the people to the music, if at the same time you want things to happen organically?

Brandon: Laughing Man, my other band, can go anywhere from a two- to sixteen-piece band, and that’s not because it needs to be or it’s cool to be that way. It’s to open it up for collaboration. Even friends that can hardly play can be part of it if they want. One other thing, there is not a big video presence, like in other cities. We need these small pieces that make a scene stronger, which I think we can do, but we have work to do.

What DC bands do you think are doing cool things right now?

All: Young Rapids—they are really talented musicians and have an awesome attitude. They are also evolving, the full vision of them is not yet revealed. Ugly Purple Sweater, Deleted Scenes, GEMS, The North Country, Dance for the Dying, Pree, Layne Garrett—he makes instruments and uses things that most musicians don’t normally use to make sound. Typefighter, and of course Cigarette.

Brandon: I kind of want to touch on some other scenes. Lions and Tigers and Whales of Cricket Cemetery, an all vinyl, punk, and rockabilly label. LTW is a perfect symmetry of punk, hardcore, and power violence. In person it is terrifying, but they are one of my favorite bands, period. There’s also Disciples of Christ and Chris Moore’s band, Magrudergrind. In the hip hop scene, Raw Poetic is a good starting point.

John: David Combs from Spoonboy is great—it’s still crazy how people don’t know him yet are all in the same city.

What are your thoughts on vinyl?

John: I was introduced to vinyl through my dad’s old record collection. Everyone’s dad or uncle has a box of old records. In the case of my dad, he had Doo-Wop records, Motown, and Earth, Wind and Fire albums. You have this limited collection of music that your parents bought when it wasn’t possible to download music. You bought a record and listened to it one hundred times.

Vinyl can create little music narratives through the collecting of records. You have those nights when you first discover an old record collection, dust off the old player, and you hear some warm, hissing vinyl playing some velvety music. That experience can’t be compared to buying CDs or downloading; it’s special. It becomes a sentimental experience, that’s what I love about it.

Alex: For me, it’s sound quality. I’m am audiophile—I don’t mess around with my audio stuff. I buy music on vinyl for any album I truly love. Downloaded music doesn’t compare. That waveform is unproduceable. I have a physical response to vinyl that doesn’t happen with any other way of listening to music. I think it’s essential for anyone who plays music to listen to vinyl.

Eduardo: It’s an investment; there are no cutting corners when you are going to listen to a record. I am going to sit down and listen to this whole album start to finish. You have so many connections and memories from that. ABBA was the first record I listened to at my parents’ house—I listened to that record all the time.

Brandon: I grew up on hip hop and rap, so the idea of the sample was ingrained in me at a very young age. I used to live in this big open space in Philadelphia. One of our roommates got a huge collection of classical vinyl. We would blast classical records and rap over the ones that skipped a lot. Some really amazing rap involves looping over classical samples. That was my whole experience with vinyl—free styling over skipping classical records.

Support a band that gives back to the community.  Here are three ways you can help Paperhaus today:

Come to the Paperhaus show tonight at the Rock and Roll Hotel.

Attend the The Laughing Man show Above the Bike Shop this Saturday, March 16. A modest portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Paperhaus Kickstarter.

Donate to the Paperhaus Kickstarter!  

3/15 at Rock and Roll Hotel (DC)
3/22 at Bauhaus (Richmond, VA)
3/23 at Random Row Books (Charlottesville, VA)
4/2 at Motorco with Young Rapids (Durham, NC)
4/3 at Slim’s (Raleigh, NC)
4/4 at Apothecary (Asheville, NC)
4/5 at The Courtroom (Rock Hill, SC)
4/6 at Big Guns with Young Rapids (Charleston, SC)
4/8 at Display (Gainesville, FL)
4/9 at Venture Compound (Tampa, FL)
4/11 at Underbelly (Jacksonville, FL)
4/12 at Flicker (Athens, GA)
4/13 at 529 (Atlanta, GA)
4/14 at Courthouse (Memphis, TN)
4/15 at Morningbell Records (Jackson, MS)
4/17 at Eclipse Coffee (Montovollo, AL)
4/18 at Mud and Water (Baton Rouge, LA)
4/19 at The Prytania Bar (New Orleans, LA)
4/20 at Arterial (201 Jefferson St., Lafayette, Louisiana 70501)
4/21 at KTRU Radio Show & BBQ (Houston, TX)
4/22 at Macaroni Island (Denton, TX)
4/23 at Holy Mountain (Austin, TX)
4/24 at Pour Jon’s (Siloam Springs, AK)
4/25 at Vassar Bastards Presents (Albuquerque, NM)
4/26 at The Trunk Space (Phoenix, AZ)
4/27 at TBA (Los Angeles, CA)
4/28 at Thee Parkside (San Francisco, CA)
4/29 at Eli’s Mile High Club at Oakland, CA)
4/30 at The Bat Cave (1164 11th Street Arcata, CA 95521)
5/1 at Valentine’s (Portland, OR)
5/2 at TBA (Seattle, WA)
5/3 at Bird Stop (Caldwell, Idaho)
5/4 at TBA (Provo, Utah)
5/5 at TBA (Salt Lake City, Utah)
5/7 at GNU: Experience Gallery (Fort Collins, CO)
5/8 at Mouth House (Denver, CO)
5/9 at TBA (Omaha, NE)
5/10 at TBA (Chicago, IL)
5/11 at Kitty Kat Club (Minneapolis, MN)
5/12 at TBA (Champaign, IL)
5/13 at Blank Space (St. Louis, MO)
5/14 at Haymarket Whiskey Bar (Lousiville, KY)
5/15 at TBA (Lexington, KY)
5/16 at The Other Basement (Nashville, TN)
5/17 at 1427 (Columbus, OH)
5/18 at TBA (Detroit, MI)
5/19 at Woodruff’s (Ypsilanti, MI)
5/20 at Mahalls 20 Lanes (Lakewood, OH)
5/21 at Basement Transmissions (Erie, PA)
5/22 at TBA (Pittsburgh, PA)
5/23 at House Party (Honeybrook, PA)
5/24 at BSP Lounge (Kingston, NY)
5/25 at TBA (Upstate NY)
5/26 at The Elevens (Northampton, MA)
5/28 at People’s Art Collective (New Haven, CT)
5/29 at Radio Bean (Burlington, VT)
5/30 at O’ Briens (Boston, MA)
5/31 at TBA (NYC)
6/1 at TBA (Philadelphia, PA)
6/7 – DC Return Show

Paperhaus Official | Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp
All photos shot in Petworth by Richie Downs

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