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The Paper Kites are staying grounded despite their international success

When homegrown indie-folk darlings The Paper Kites wrap up the Australian/New Zealand leg of their Where You Live Tour, you may find yourself ordering a latte from guitarist Dave Powys or ushered into a movie theatre by frontman and songwriter Sam Bentley. 

“When we’re home we like to work our other jobs. It’s fairly difficult to live off music full time – we could almost do it,” Bentley says. “But it’s more just having something to do when we’re home. I work at a cinema sometimes, Dave works at a coffee shop and Josh [Bentley, drums] is a gardener. It’s us living the Batman life without the rich playboy gig by day,” he laughs.

Calling in from Edinburgh, Bentley is in high spirits while enjoying some rare downtime before the start of a gruelling European tour. “I’m just on a bit of a holiday at the moment, but we can’t wait to be back in Australia next month.”

Don’t mistake Bentley’s excitement for homesickness, however, The Paper Kites have been welcomed by audiences all around the world, including the US where their fifth studio album On the Corner Where You Live came to life. 

“By the time we recorded our second album [twelvefour] in Seattle we realised we work better when we’re away from home with the sole purpose of making a record,” he says. “So now whenever it comes time to make an album we wanna get away from home, and find a studio that we can live and work out of.”

On the Corner Where You Live was produced by Peter Katis in a charming, old town house in Connecticut, but as Bentley tells me it wasn’t exactly the picturesque setting you might expect. 

“When we came across Peter’s place, we were looking for a producer and we had a few names in the running. I initially wanted Nick Launay to produce it, he does a lot of Nick Cave’s stuff but I think it was a little ambitious of me,” he laughs. 

“I had a chat to him and he’s a lovely guy, and I’m a fan, but he said I don’t think I’m the right guy for the album you’re wanting to make. He makes really kind of grungey, dirty albums so it wasn’t meant to be. He actually pointed us in the direction of Peter. So we chatted to him and we realised he has done some of my favourite albums. He’s worked with Interpol and Kurt Vile, and a huge list of people. 

“But we when spoke to him he said ‘I wanna bring you guys out to Bridgeport.’ Now when you think of Connecticut, it’s beautiful, but Bridgeport is kind of – I have to be careful what I say – it’s a bit of a seedy part of town,” he adds. “There’s all these amazing, huge town houses, which by all standards in Melbourne would be called mansions but they’re all run down because no one wants to live in Bridgeport – there’s drug problems and gangs.

“Before we even got there Peter told us ‘If you wanna go for a walk don’t go down the main street because sometimes people get shot.’ We didn’t know what to make of that so we steered clear of it,” Bentley jokes.

Despite being the new kids in town, having the space and time to focus was exactly what they needed. 

“The house is 120 years old and had three levels, and the studio Peter built was amazing. There was always something creative going on. During the evening, I’d be working on vocals and Christina [Lacy, vocals/keys] might be downstairs working on a song. It was a really great time and I have really fond memories of making that album.”

After nearly a decade in the game, The Paper Kites show no sign of slowing down, and Bentley says they’ve pulled out all the stops to make their homecoming shows extra special. 

“We always like to hand-pick our supports when we can but it’s hard at the moment because there are so many good Australian acts on the scene right now,” he says. 

At a one-off show at The Forum, Melbourne-based songwriter Slow Dancer, AKA Simon Okely, will open the show. 

“We really like his stuff, I think he’s on the Pieater label,” he says. “Actually Tom Lansek from Big Scary who produced On the Train Ride Home told me about him and I saw him perform in town and he was great,”

“We haven’t played any headline shows in Australia for about three years, and it’s ten years down the track but people are still wanting to see us and the audiences are getting bigger – it’s truly a wonderful thing.”

 

The Paper Kites come to The Forum on Saturday March 23. Grab your tickets via Ticketmaster.