Paper Planes

Folding the squalling energy of early Yeah Yeah Yeahs into fresh pop shapes, <b>Paper Planes</b> are taking off in a big way.

Feature by Chris Buckle | 26 Oct 2009
  • Paper Planes

No great masterplan has guided Paper Planes’ initial trajectory. In fact, when New Jerseyite Jennifer Paley first journeyed to Glasgow, singing was the last thing on her mind. “Music had no sway on my decision to come overseas,” she explains. “I didn't know anything about what was coming out of Glasgow or had come out of Glasgow besides the obvious, Belle and Sebastian, Jesus and Mary Chain, Franz Ferdinand... Only so much filters through to America. My musical education started as soon as I arrived.”

That education involved three Scots with a track record on the Glasgow music scene. Chalk it up to serendipity: though joining a band wasn’t originally part of Paley’s agenda, when Christopher Haddow (guitar), Craig O’Brien (drums), and Fraser McFadzean (bass) asked her to sing, the answer was obvious. “Everyone wants to front a band in their own dream world, so I just said yeah… Those first few months were pretty scary but also very interesting for me, I kept waiting for someone to call my bluff,” she recalls. “As far as I was concerned there was not a musical bone in my body”.

If this was ever true it certainly ain't now, as anyone lucky enough to catch Paper Planes live will attest. Paley’s firebrand rock 'n' roll caterwaul sits comfortably atop the band’s surf-influenced new wave indie, but she wasn’t always so confident onstage. “I couldn't even give presentations at school because I got so ridiculously nervous in front of people,” she confesses. Though such anxiety must seem pretty distant, several years and dozens of gigs later.

While performing no longer causes jitters, an unfortunate side-effect of the band’s transatlantic membership continues to haunt them. As a non-UK citizen, Paley’s residency here is subject to the shifting sands of bureaucracy, and having been forced on hiatus once before by visa issues, it’s an understandable worry. “This time around is going to be much harder,” she accepts. “I’m trying not to think about it just now. It’s pretty depressing to think you can just be booted out of a country after you’ve set up this whole life for yourself.”

Not that their last enforced separation stopped Paper Planes for long, the band swapping material back and forth across the Atlantic during their time apart. Debut single Doris Day involved comparatively fewer air miles, coming together in the course of a single evening upon Paley's return. Even the enigmatic title proved effortless. (“They were just words I had played in Scrabble the night before and they fit quite nicely.”) It’s a punchy calling card that has augmented their buzz and attracted the attention of Stephen Pastel and Gerry Love, who both DJed at their single launch.

But the quartet aren’t about to start rushing things. “We’re thinking about releasing another single, depending on how this one goes," says Paley. "We’re just taking things as they come, letting the whole thing plot its own course. Everything will fall into place eventually.” Floating on the breeze like their origami namesakes: expect them to go far.

Supporting Jay Reatard at King Tut's, Glasgow on 11 Nov.