Ahead of the launch of their single Beautiful Disaster at Fibbers on the 30th of March, we caught up with Lion Papers. The duo consists of best friends, Curtis Pearson and Jimmy Ingham. We chatted to Curtis about random name selections, their favourite haunts and the dream of making it big.
By Daisy Woolett
The band name ‘Lion Papers’: how did you come to the decision of this name? Is there a story behind it?
There was no relevancy to the name; it was one of those things where we were playing shows before we had even properly started to “brand” ourselves, or so to speak. Jimmy and me were just texting each other random stupid names that were literally two random words that we had just stuck together and, show after show, we still didn’t have a name. So we just put our foot down, and very randomly came up with the name Lion Papers. It’s one of those things we will never be entirely happy with, but it’s only a name. It’s the music that matters!
Curtis, you’ve been in different bands with Jimmy for over 5 years now, what encouraged you to form Lion Papers?
We started in bands together at just thirteen years old, “rocking out” in a sweaty rehearsal room at school, thrashing to “hard rock” songs trying to be Angus Young from AC/DC. We were just messing about then really, but at thirteen, we thought we were the best band in the world! Who wouldn’t at thirteen? We had true ambitions! Singers changed, guitarists left and bassists and drummers were no more, but me and Jimmy stuck it out and still wanted to make music together. I think Lion Papers just happened by mistake to be honest. We were in our last year of secondary school, and we were asked to play a couple of songs for our last school concert. The previous band we were in were no more, so me and Jimmy just said: let’s just do an “acoustic thing”. We practised and then I added a tambourine… and then a snare drum… and then a floor tom. And it just developed in to what we are today really. It’s weird looking back at it like that.
Did it take a different approach than the other bands you were in?
Definitely! We were always part of a standard 4-band set up. Electric guitar, bass, drums, vocals and so on. But the sound output of a four-piece band just wasn’t possible with just the two of us. So we decided to go down the acoustic route, but give it a twist. The one thing we couldn’t let go of between the transition from rock band to an acoustic duo was the energy! We were so keen to make our acoustic outfit just as energetic as our previous bands were. It’s all about having fun right? So in some respects it’s very different, but I guess there is still elements that will never really change.
Did you ever think of incorporating anyone else into the band or will it stay a duo?
It’s not something we’ve really thought in depth about to be honest. Sometimes we think it would be nice to have a bassist or a pianist, just to add something more to the sound. But then the impact and surprise that we aim to give would just be lost if we added more people. I think people enjoy the fact that two people can make a big sound, and we like that. It makes us different.
How long have you been singing? Has this always been a calling for you? Do you also play an instrument?
As stupid as it sounds, I’m not really a singer. Obviously I am in terms of Lion Papers, but again that happened by mistake. I am a drummer and do play a little piano and other instruments, but I am mainly a drummer. In one of the previous bands we were in, our singer walked out, and we were left without one for quite some time. Anyway, we thought it would be easier to find a drummer than a singer. So I started singing and we brought in another drummer. I think I was 15 or so at the time, so I was still quite young and wasn’t really that bothered. Anyway, when the band split up altogether and me and Jimmy started Lion Papers, I just incorporated both aspects and decided to sing and drum at the same time. Again, adding a unique touch to our performance.
You mention on your Facebook page that Jake Bugg, Mumford and Sons, and The Beatles are some of your inspirations, can you tell me more about why these people inspire you? What elements of their music do you like?
Our influences come from a wide range of music that we both like to listen to. We like to play songs that we like, and the artists that we listen to have heavily influenced our style in some shape or form. As mentioned in our short bio, we like to say that Mumford and Sons and Jake Bugg have really influenced our music the most. When you listen to our new single, you will probably see why. Mumford and Sons have a similar set up to ours (drums, acoustic guitars, etc.) and they are also very energetic when they perform, and their audiences are normally heavily involved in their performances. Jake Bugg is the most influential artist, as his almost heavy acoustic guitar riffs are similar to the songs that we write. His lyrics reflect his life, just like our lyrics reflect ours, and his accompaniment of drums and bass, with a very energetic feel is also very similar to us and the music that we write.
When writing your own songs, what is the process usually like? Does it take hours or days? What topics or themes usually come up? Where does your inspiration come from?
When it comes to writing a song it’s pretty simple for our genre. Jimmy writes chord sequences and riffs almost everyday, and if he comes up with something catchy that would fit with our set-up then we normally just meet up and develop melodies and a structure together. It’s a very spontaneous process. Lyrics are based from anything around our lives, from seeing teenagers on drugs to love and heartbreak. We just think of as many catchy words that relate to that topic. We just want lyrics that people of all ages can reflect on, whether it be now or when they were teenagers themselves.
Speaking of songs, what are your favourites to play live? Do you have a set playlist for gigs?
We have an arsenal of songs that we always refer back to when putting a set list together. It all usually depends on the gig and the venue we’re playing. We always try and think what songs would work best for the audience that we will be playing in front of. We love playing Beautiful Disaster, our new single, purely because we can go crazy when playing it. It’s just one of those songs!
What is the venue you play most? Is there something about that venue that particularly appeals to you? Is there a venue you’d really like to play in the future?
We play at pubs and clubs all of the time, but we always look forward to playing big York venues like Fibbers and The Duchess. We always go all out for them. We drag a lot of people down to them who have a smashing time in the process. Other local venues like The Cockpit were a dream for us to play, but it unfortunately closed down. We’re always a band that have a dream of touring and playing venues around the world.
Lastly, what are your plans and goals for the future?
To be honest, in terms of Lion Papers, you have to be realistic. Yes, we would love to be the next indie pop sensation, but in reality, only one in maybe 500 bands will make it into the big venues playing alongside some great bands. So, we would love more than anything for this band to grow and make it, but regardless of whether that happens, we will still be putting 100% effort in to all of our shows, and compose songs that we love to play, and hopefully you like to hear.