Q&A With Paint Branch
While the moniker Paint Branch is new, the members behind the band are no strangers to the music business. Chris Richards and John Davis have each made a name for themselves in the industry, with their extensive resumes proving just how special the Paint Branch courtship truly is. In January 2013, Paint Branch debuted a thundering album, I Wanna Live, and this Sunday the band will share the 9:30 Club stage with another group of hometown veteran rockers, The Dismemberment Plan. Before then, I spoke with Davis (who’s also apart of another musical project, Title Tracks) about the show, the record, and his laid back approach to promoting Paint Branch.
DMD: I Wanna Live was released at the beginning of the year. How do you feel about the record and its reception in the intervening months between then and now?
JD: I still enjoy the record. It has been unlike any other I’ve ever made in that I haven’t followed it up with incessant touring and promotion. It’s the first one that I’ve been a part of where we just finished it and let it float around out there with almost no push at all. As a result, I’m not really sure what the reception has been, other than that I think it’s been pretty positive. For me, I’m proud of it and still like the songs, performances, and production a lot.
The goal for me, usually, is to capture whatever was going on at the time that the songs were being worked on-Paint Branch record certainly did that. That record is about Chris and I talking about different things we were each going through or had observed — whether it be relationships we’d been through, people we knew, places we’d been, things we wanted to see change, and so on.
I felt like Chris and I were in different places from each other in life when we were writing those songs, but it still came together musically in a coherent way. It was the first time we’d worked on anything together creatively in something like five or six years, but it picked up again with total ease.
DMD: Do you feel your past bands’ histories have overshadowed Paint Branch, or does it feel like it’s been received and appreciated as its own creative entity?
JD: Since the record and band haven’t been pushed at all publicly, I don’t think there’s really been a reception to the band, per se. I suppose if someone was listening to Paint Branch and demanding to hear something that sounded like Q And Not U, then they might not like it. Anyone who understood what Q And Not U was about, though, would at least respect that we were continuing to do what we’ve always done as musicians.
We want to try new things, write and play songs differently than we’ve done before, and not repeat ourselves. Q And Not U was a fun band, most of the time, but I can’t really picture writing music like that again. You can even see over the course of the three Q And Not U albums how much we always wanted to do things differently than we had the previous time. Any vibes about Paint Branch that I’ve picked up on have totally just been people glad to see Chris and I working together again and working on something different from what we used to do.
DMD: In an interview with BYT you expressed that your approach to Paint Branch was to keep it laid back, fun, and to just enjoy the process. Is that still your attitude or has that changed?
JD: That has totally remained the same. Like I mentioned previously, I’ve never done a project like this before, where it was a low-key thing and we just worked on it when we could. That approach is not really in my nature, but I can enjoy that aspect of Paint Branch.
I think that we strive to be solely creatively ambitious instead of being creatively ambitious while having an ambitious schedule, which is a little different than how we worked in our previous bands together. I don’t see that changing at all. I have my other project, Title Tracks, to keep me busy if I want to make different kinds of music, go on tour, or do whatever.
DMD: What are your thoughts/observations on playing with The Dismemberment Plan on Sunday?
JD: We’re certainly looking forward to it. I’ve known the guys in that band for something like 18 years. They had sent their first single to me to review in the fanzine I did in high school. Shortly after that, they signed to DeSoto Records and I set up an interview with them on the eve of their first album release.
Travis [Morrison], whom I had not met before, came over to my house and we talked about their band. That was really how I started to get to know them. In the following years, we played shows together with our various bands, Travis briefly wrote a column for my fanzine, we made plans (and then canceled plans) to release a Dismemberment Plan single on the record label I used to run. I feel like I must have seen them play dozens of times. I have a long history with those guys and I am glad to see that they’re doing what they do again.
As for how Paint Branch is preparing? Nothing strenuous, really. Just got together once or twice to play through the songs and be ready for Sunday. It’s always fun to play the 9:30 Club, too, so we appreciate being asked to do it.
DMD: What are your future plans for Paint Branch? Any tours, shows, or new music?
JD: An LP version of I Wanna Live is coming out in late November on Cricket Cemetery, so we’re happy about that. No touring plans for Paint Branch, but we’ll play a couple out-of-town shows later this fall and again in D.C.
We also hope to record some new music this fall, too. Now that we’ve been playing a lot with the full live band (Nick Anderson, Andy Goldman, and Elmer Sharp join us for the shows), we’d like to record a few songs with them. Chris and I started writing some more new songs recently, so we’ll have new music for people to hear next year.