Paperhaus started in a basement in the suburbs of Washington, DC, where guitarists Alex Tebeleff and Eduardo Rivera spent their teenage years playing music together with ears buzzing from Radiohead, Television, and Fela Kuti. Miles away in Philadelphia, the dissonant vibrato of drummer Brandon Moses howled over distorted blues, while bassist John Di Lascio’s three drunken years playing absurdist prog-pop in shady Japanese yakuza bars were winding down.
When the haze cleared, these four musicians found themselves in the Red Door room in DC’s legendary Gold Leaf Studios (R.I.P.), screaming raw vocal poetry into rickety old mics and bleeding cosmic noise through rusty tube amps. Regardeless, Paperhaus is the lovechild of four very different, but passionate songwriters, who share only a belief in the spiritually transformative power of music.
Ghettoblaster caught up with the dudes from the band while they prepared their second effort, an EP titled Lo Hi Lo due May 28. Lo Hi Lo was recorded at DC’s legendary Inner Ear studios with producer Ivan Basuri, and reflects the more pop side of Paperhaus’ psychedelic music. Though they won’t be spending much time at home this spring, as they are in the midst of a two-month national tour, we talked to the dudes in the band about their current stomping grounds of Washington DC. This is what they said about it…
What’s your town’s nickname?
Chocolate City! We are all P-Funk fans, so we are proud to have DC have a nickname from a P-Funk song.
What’s your nickname for your town?
We call it Chocolate City too.
Why do you live there?
Eduardo and Alex grew up in the area. John and Brandon both moved into town and that’s where the band started. We remain there because there is a fantastic community of like minded musicians and artists developing right now, and we run a DIY house venue in the community. Despite the high cost of living, the scene in DC right now is really incredible, it’s rare to find a band in our community that doesn’t have fantastic songwriting. Almost everyone looks out for everyone else, there is very little unhealthy competition like you find in some bigger music cities. Everyone wants the community as a whole to succeed, it’s a really beautiful thing.
What’s the weirdest thing that has ever happened to you there?
Eduardo bought Mayor Vincent Grey a shirley temple because he doesn’t drink alcohol.
What is your favorite local attraction (monument, park, etc)?
The art galleries. Portrait Gallery, Phillips Gallery, the list goes on and on. One of the great things about living in DC!
What is your favorite local event or festival?
Fort Reno! It’s one of the best things DC has had to offer in music for many years now. The list of amazing bands that has played it is incredible. It’s twice a week all summer, and we try to go every chance we can.
What is the best time of year to be there?
Spring. Cherry blossoms, and DC has pretty extreme weather in Winter and Summer. Everyone goes out constantly all spring!
Who is your favorite local celebrity?
Ian Mackaye. A legend for all the right reasons. We are huge fans of the music and the man.
Where is the best place to drink and what’s their specialty or happy hour?
DC Reynolds. 2 for 1 happy hour! Our favorite place to drink in the city.
Who has the best jukebox (and what’s in it)?
The Black Cat has the best jukebox in the city, hands down. Lots of classic punk, no bullshit, and plenty of ecletic music too.
Do you play music there? If so, where is your favorite place to play?
We play The Black Cat and we love playing there, but we really love to play DIY venues. We feel most comfortable in DC in spaces and houses. Our house venue is our favorite place to play!
Does where you live influence your music?
DC definitely influences our music. It has an amazingly rich musical history. Punk, Go Go, Duke Ellington. A strong focus on community, DIY, DIT, and just making authentic music with integrity.
What is your favorite place to see live music and what was your favorite show there?
Our house venue is definitely the best place to see live music in DC. There have been so many amazing shows, Cuddle Magic, Deep Chatham, Rachel Goodrich, She Keeps Bees, Wake Island, and plenty of amazing local bands too.
What is your favorite local band?
Too many amazing local bands to name just one for DC! Ugly Purple Sweater, The North Country, Young Rapids, Deleted Scenes, GEMS, Layne Garrett, Typefighter, Pree, the list goes on and on. The music scene in DC is very rich in quality right now.
What is your favorite diner or restaurant and what is their best dish?
Everlasting Life. Alex and Brandon have a crack like addiction to the BBQ tofu.
What is your favorite record store and what was your best find there?
Joe’s Record Paradise in Silver Spring. Alex found a couple of Kraftwerk records in great condition, and those will always have a place on his turntable.
What is your favorite local publication (alternative weekly, zine, website or blog)?
The Intentional. Our friend Kate Jenkins is the editor and it’s an amazingly well written magazine with great stories, and really addresses the problems of our generation in a very authentic way. It is very inspiring to read.
What is your favorite local shop?
Qualia Coffee. Best coffee in DC by far. They roast right there, and it has really become like a second home for us.
If you could live anywhere else, where would that be?
Berlin. We will definitely make a record in that city one day!
(Catch Paperhaus on tour at one of these dates:
04.18 • Mud and Water (Baton Rouge, LA)
04.19 • The Prytania Bar (New Orleans, LA)
04.20 • Arterial (Lafeyette, LA)
04.21 • Radio Show & BBQ (Houston, TX)
04.22 • Macaroni Island (Denton, TX)
04.23 • Holy Mountain (Austin, TX)
04.24 • Pour Jon’s (Siloam Springs, AK)
04.25 • The Vassar Bastard’s Present (Albuquerque, NM)
04.26 • The Trunk Space (Phoenix, AZ)
04.28 • Thee Parkside (San Francisco, CA)
04.29 • Eli’s Mile High Club (Oakland, CA)
04.30 • The Bat Cave (Arcata, CA)
05.01 • Valentine’s (Portland, OR)
05.03 • Bird Stop (Caldwell, ID)
05.07 • GNU: Experience Gallery (Fort Collins, CO)
05.08 • Mouth House (Denver, CO)
05.09 • Side Door Lounge (Omaha, NE)
05.11 • Kitty Kat Club (Minneapolis, MN)
05.13 • Blank Space (St. Louis, MO)
05.14 • Haymarket Whiskey Bar (Louisville, KY)
05.16 • The Other Basement (Nashville, TN)
05.19 • Woodruff’s (Ypsilani, MI)
05.20 • Mahalls 20 Lanes (Lakewood, OH)
05.21 • Basement Transmissions (Erie, PA)
05.23 • Anthony’s House (Honeybrook, PA)
05.24 • BSP Lounge (Kingston, NY)
05.26 • The Elevens (Northampton, MA)
05.28 • People’s Art Collective (New Haven, CT)
05.29 • Radio Bean (Burlington, VT))