The Paper Sound: Back Together & Better Than Ever

By: Toni Cunningham | November 13, 2013
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When a band goes on hiatus, you can almost always kiss any hopes you had for a new album goodbye. Metro Detroit-based indie guitar rock band The Paper Sound broke that stereotype entirely.

The band, made up of Phil Kinney (vocals, guitar), John Miller (bass), Nate Sjogren (drums) and Josh Wheeler (guitar), released its first full-length self-titled album in 2005, played shows for the next two years, and then went on hiatus until the summer of 2011.

The break was due to an out of country job transfer on Kinney’s part, but the band quickly regrouped upon his return. They released their current full-length album, “The Struggle with Light,” in September 2012.

Kinney describes The Paper Sound as “guitar-based indie rock,” but with a moody, Americana pop tinge to it.

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Wheeler sums it up rather uniquely: “Since all good genres have ‘post’ or ‘core’ in them, we’d probably describe it as ‘post-indie-rock-moody-Americana-power-pop-core.’”

Quite a mouthful, but a fitting summary for a band whose name is derived from a song by alternative rock group Red House Painters.

Unlike bands who pump out a new record every year like clockwork, The Paper Sound had enough downtime in between their debut and last year’s release that Kinney said it was almost like putting out a first album a second time.

“We came back together, and after seven years, pulled together the list of songs that I had written and started to piece the album together,” Kinney said. “We were all trying to figure out exactly who The Paper Sound was, and we think this album was part of that process.”

During their time off from The Paper Sound, all four were still honing their musical abilities, either writing new material or performing with a different project. Wheeler said that while they all kept busy musically, getting the band back together was a thrill.

“We’re actually working through a number of new songs right now that we’re experimenting with live, and are planning to start tracking the next record in December,” Wheeler said, adding that the band hopes to have a new full-length album ready by next spring or summer.

As if they hadn’t set themselves apart already, The Paper Sound is dedicated to further standing out in a sea of indie guitar rock bands.

“There’s a number of different places you can take a traditional four piece guitar rock band, and I think we’ve been able to do that in a way that’s uniquely us,” Wheeler said. “We are as un-gimmicky as a band can get, but (we) are very earnest about what we play and do.”

Musically, the band draws inspiration from indie rock bands like Pedro the Lion, power pop groups including Built to Spill and Nada Surf, and Americana influences such as Neil Young.

“Most of the songs I write are attempting to reconcile my own story or the stories of those around me,” Kinney said. “Personally, I am always in pursuit of hope, and most of the songs are a process of working that out in my perspective.”

The Paper Sound will round out 2013 with several upcoming live shows, including the following dates:

  • Saturday, December 7 at The Magic Stick with Warhorses, The Walking Beat and At Willoughby
  • Friday, December 13 at The Pike Room with The Garden Party, The Bends and Tart
  • Friday, December 27 at Simon’s After Dark with The HandGrenades and The Ill Itches

The Paper Sound can also be heard in Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers’ campaign for the 2014 Chevy Traverse. The band’s song, “Heartsick,” provides the soundtrack to the commercial!

For more information on The Paper Sound, including album information and upcoming tour dates, visit the band’s Facebook page or