Photo courtesy of Paperhaus

With more and more press circulating Paperhaus’s burgeoning success, the Washington, D.C.-based band is becoming known as a staple of the area’s new music scene.

With a psychedelic electro-rock sound and hundreds of shows played over the past four years, National Public Radio labeled Paperhaus the “centerpiece for an arty, punky side of Washington, D.C.”

The band was founded by Alex Tebeleff and Eduardo Rivera in 2006. The remaining members, Danny Bentley and Matt Dowling, joined them in 2014. The band hosts a music venue in the Petworth neighborhood, called The Paperhaus, that the band describes as a “home/practice space/DIY haven.”

Paperhaus self-released their newest album last February. The album, “Paperhaus,” took two years of improvisation sessions to complete.

In “The Washington Post,” Tebeleff said that he’s tired of Washington, D.C.’s music scene only being known for punk and go-go.

“It’s time for D.C. to be known for something else,” he said, adding that his goal is to usher in a new musical era.

In this Q&A, Rivera gives a much different take. Rivera instead celebrates D.C.'s past musical scenes and is humbler in the new wave of artists currently taking hold in the District.

While speaking about the band’s influences and place in D.C.’s music scene, Rivera also gives insight into the band’s origins and what fans should expect from the band in the future.

Photo courtesy of Paperhaus

SNAP.: Where did you come up with the name of the band, 'Paperhaus'?

Rivera: 'Paperhaus' is the name of a song off of the album 'Tago Mago' by CAN. They're a German krautrock band from the 70s that were hugely important — not only to our band’s sound — but to Alex's and Eduardo's musical development. A lot of CAN's songs came out of epic jams, and we try to create songs ourselves from the unconscious.

SNAP.: How do you think your band has grown over the years?

Rivera: I think the most obvious way the band has changed is with our members. We have changed the line-up of our rhythm section since the recording of the record. The new line-up includes Danny Bentley (formerly of Sunwolf) and Matt Dowling (formerly of Deleted Scenes and currently in The Effects). Both of them add a wonderful dynamic and maturity to our sound.

Something else that has changed is the approach to song-writing. This record that we just released was essentially a shedding of ownership. Once you introduce an idea, a riff, a verse to the band, it's the band’s. All of us are songwriters, and each member added their personality to the songs. It's truly a selfless act, and we trust each other enough to know that everyone's input will make the song better.

SNAP.: How would you describe your sound?

Rivera: Haha. Oh, gosh. Where to start? We really don't know how to describe our sound. I think you can really piece together a lot of our influences through each song (i.e. Fela Kuti, Joy Division, Radiohead, Deerhunter, Dr. John, Talking Heads, CAN, Television, Scott Walker, etc.). I think we've described ourselves as psychedelic krautrock, but I think that's just confusing. Psychedelic rock? I don't know.

Photo courtesy of Paperhaus

SNAP.: You're trying to usher in a new musical era in D.C. Why?

Rivera: I don't think we're necessarily trying to usher in a new musical era, but I think we're caught in the wave of new musicians in D.C. Over the past few years, there's been a huge surge of talent and most importantly camaraderie in the city. Some of our favorite bands are D.C. bands.

We opened the doors of The Paperhaus four years ago because we saw DIY (Do It Yourself) places like The Rocketship and Red Door (or Gold Leaf Studios) putting on shows. We saw that and said to ourselves, ‘We can do that, too.’ And we just did it. Didn't really think twice about it.

I think it's brilliant that bands are touring, putting out records and starting house venues like ours. The scene in D.C. is getting better and better every year. I think what we're trying to prove is that D.C. is thriving with creativity right now, and people need to notice.

SNAP.: Do you hate punk and go-go?

Rivera: Not at all! Punk is a HUGE part to our sound and musical influences. The list goes on: Fugazi, Minor Threat, Buzzcocks, Magazine, etc. Even some lyrics in our song, ‘Misery,’ are in reference to a Fugazi song. What we're trying to promote is that there is a scene in D.C. right now. People should be making documentaries on the current musical events. What was happening in D.C. music in the ‘80s is happening now with a new wave of bands. The music scene in D.C. is not a museum or a monument. We don't have to live in the past when there is something incredible happening at our doorstep.

SNAP.: Anything your fans should expect in the near future?

Rivera: We don't even know what to expect! Maybe shorter songs? We're already recording new material with the new Paperhaus line-up that we're very excited about. We're incorporating more synthesizers in our songs, so there's a new sonic element. We're not ones to stay put, so I would expect the next record to be different.

To check out the band’s home page and social media presence, go to Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, and Youtube.

About Michelle Goldchain

Michelle is a photojournalist who loves to live life by never sitting still. You can find her in art galleries in Dupont Circle, ethnic restaurants in Adams Morgan and comedy clubs in Arlington. In her spare time, when she's not typing away at a computer screen, she's probably listening to moody electronic music, watching cat videos or doodling.
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