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PAWS are based in Glasgow but the band were formed in the highland town of Tain. Bonding over a love of punk and its DIY ethic Philip Taylor (Guitar & Vocals), Matthew Scott (Bass) and Joshua Swinney (Drums) are currently kicking up a fuss all over the UK. Now signed to FatCat records the band released an excellent 5 track EP Misled Youth on cassette in May. Their debut album will be released this autumn. Adam Taylor spoke to the band ahead of their gig at Birthdays in London.
Find out more about PAWS at http://www.wehavepaws.com/
Adam Taylor: Was it an easy decision to sign up with fat cat [records], were you aware of what they did, and do you like any other bands on the label?
Joshua Swinney: Yeah, pretty easy to sign with them decision wise, we like their label, a lot.
Matthew Scott: I think we've been aware of a lot of their records in the past and always been quite conscious of them, I don't think it ever felt like it would actually happen. And once we got to go into their offices to raid their collection that was pretty fun as well
JS: Pretty illuminating. It was good to explore the label, all the old releases and stuff - because theres so much that we really like that we'd never even heard of
MS: I think finding that stuff out has been reassuring that we've made a good choice as well because there are albums there that they'll openly admit are quite unsuccessful financially, but they're records that they're really proud to have put out as well, so yeah, it reassures you
AT: So now you've signed, is there an album, are you working on an album?
Philip Taylor: Yeah, the albums done, it’s just waiting to be released, we recorded it in January, it’s all done and ready to go, it’s just getting the release ready, and getting singles ready to go and artwork finished. All the bits and pieces that come with releasing, setting it up and planning tours and stuff like that - it'll be out in the Autumn, probably September or October it looks like, but no, it's all good to go.
AT: OK, that leads nicely to the next one - I’ve taken a quote from another interview, I’m not gonna read that out, but just about recording in people's houses and just doing it DIY style - have you kept that going, that sort of spirit, or did they bring you into line with proper studios and stuff?
MS: I think the thing about recording and doing it like that is that it's not that we didn't want to ever try and use a studio, it was mainly that it wasn’t an option for us but we still wanted to do it so that's why we went about it that way
PT: We've maintained or we've had a DIY ethic, but it's not like we've been going out of our way saying "We're going to be a DIY band” or “we are a DIY band", it was just it was all we had, the only choice we had, but we always did say that if we could go into a studio that'd be great, but we've been so poor.
MS: I think the one thing that we have managed to keep a hold of, and what we're quite thankful to Fat Cat for, is that they've allowed us to go into a studio and make the record that we wanted to without any outside influence, and that kind of includes Rory [Attwell] coming on as a producer for it, he came in and he's just been there to help us achieve what we wanted to with the record, it’s been quite fun to have it that way
JS: Our first Fat Cat release came out last week or the week before, it was an EP, and we recorded all that ourselves still, we did all that at home so yeah, we are still doing that and I’m sure we will do again, in the future.
MS: I think we've always wanted to sound as good as we possibly can, it’s just perhaps that we didn’t have the means at certain points along the way
AT: Is there a point when you have to step away from songwriting and say "that’s that, I've got to leave it alone now” or is there someone you ask, who gives you that advice who says "look, stop messing now, it’s time to just leave it and record it"?
MS: I think we move pretty quickly to be honest, there's always a new song to work on
PT: There's always riffs or stuff floating around that we tend to... we'll be half way through writing one thing and we'll start jamming something else and sort of get distracted - usually we'll all just jam in the space and then put something together or, I'll have written lyrics and like a vague chord structure at home and we'll go in, and we've all been playing together so long, it's just a case of I'll just play through this rough structure that I have and then it just clicks into place and we all know what to do. Other times we'll spend longer times arranging things and making things fit together nicely, spending time deconstructing the skeleton I might have and rebuilding it as three people rather than as me on my own
JS: I like that fact that sometimes you'll have a riff to start with and it'll just be a riff and we'll play that and it'll be really fun and be a song without any lyrics, and maybe next time you'll have just a thought of lyrics and it'll all mould together
MS: I think even the songs we do have, kind of set and recorded, do tend to evolve as well when you're playing live - like the end of “Jellyfish”, now we seem to always do this one little thing that's never happened before, I don't think we've ever actually spoke about it
PT: I think the main reason we move on from songs so quickly is that as soon as we have new songs we tend to record them within two weeks of having written it
MS: Recording it provides a time to evaluate it and you can sit back and be a bit more objective. I think essentially there's not an easy answer to that one.
AT: You remember Ash, the band, Tim Wheeler and that…
MS: Played with them
AT: Did you see the thing where he said that they weren't go release albums anymore cause people don't consume albums as a sort of concept anymore…
JS: Well he's an idiot!
AT: Would you give any credence to that or do you think the albums still important as a piece of artistic work?
[all at once]
PT: The album's the most important thing about being in a band
MS: Well I still value an album
JS [to MS]: Did you just say we played with Ash?
MS: Well they played at the festival that we were at on the same stage, but no, I think that's bullshit
JS: What a pack of lies
PT: Albums are so important
MS: I think that seems to come from a strictly commercial point of view. Maybe he's tired of making albums - it only makes sense if you're making music strictly for the purposes of it being purchased
PT: I don't really agree with that at all - you wouldn't say that unless it came down to, just don't be in a band then
AT: You said earlier about the album artwork - the EP and the Violent Vicky download, the artwork on those were quite different, were they different people?
MS: That was Josh
JS: I took that picture when I was fifteen, of the trees, it was just a cool picture that I thought would be quite nice to use
AT: And then the drawings on the EP?
PT: Yeah, our friend Erin did all the artwork for the EP, she did the girl that was on the cover - we saw her art via a couple of t-shirts for bands from Glasgow. There's a band called Take A Worm For A Walk Week, they had a shirt that was by this girl and also the GFT, the theatre in Glasgow, all the posters for Friday night movies were drawn by her and I always saw them as I walked past. So I contacted her to see if she wanted to do a t-shirt for us and she drew that. We had 25 of those t-shirts made and sold them all and we were a bit bummed out that that was it with the design, because it was such a strong image, so thought that we'd use it again for the EP. Then she did additional drawings for the inlay as well. She's really good, she's just moved to London from Glasgow
AT: Is she gonna do the artwork for the Album?
PT: Our friend Jessica Penfold is working on the artwork for the album - she's just opening up a comic book shop around the corner from here in the next couple of months called Eggs, Milk, Butter, she'll be doing the artwork for it.
AT: This is one that comes from the guy who runs the website so this is not my question…
MS: It comes with a disclaimer
AT: What was the thinking behind releasing tapes, is that an important thing to you, tape, more than vinyl or cd, or digital formats?
MS: I think it's just a nice thing
JS: It's pretty cheap to do
PT: And colourful. The first ones we did, I didn't know how to operate the whole download code thing on bandcamp - it must've looked like we were being really obnoxious just having tapes and no downloads, but I just didn't know how to do it, but then in another way, I enjoyed doing those tapes without having the download codes or having the music online because then it was like if you wanna listen to this you're really gonna have to make an effort. So it was nice that people actually seemed to have made that effort, come to see us live, and made the effort to buy one of these stupid tapes and then have to go away and find a tape deck to listen to it and then come back
JS: It sounds warm as well
AT: So you know Ikara Kolt from back in the day…
JS: I think I got a free CD from X-ray magazine which had Reindeer Section and Ikara Kolt, stuff like that on, can't remember the songs though
AT: Well they always said when they first started out that they were gonna quit after they'd recorded two albums, and that's what they did. Do you have any romantic or heroic notions like that?
MS: I don't think we've thought that far ahead
PT: Just play 'til we die. That's it, as long as it’s fun, we'll keep doing it and its fun, so we'll keep doing it
AT: Would you ever consider making the ultimate rock trio mistake of getting in a second guitarist?
MS: I think a harpsichord player maybe. I think the difficulty seems to be that people go away to make an album and start getting obsessed with layering guitars and then are like holy fuck, how do we play this live and then they rope in a friend - the songs weren't written with two people or that person in mind, I don't know, it always seems to go wrong doesn't it?
PT: I'm not really into the idea of it, I think it's just good to keep doing what you're doing and if you do end up having someone join your band then fine, you'll make sense of it
MS: In fact i'll put it out there, if they can drive, then they can join the band!