Australian band The Paper Kites has come a long way

Culture Music

The Paper Kites quietly enter through the front door of Lucky Bar. Wearing jeans and hoodies, the members of the Melbourne-based indie folk quintet blend easily into the crowd. Bona fide stars in Australia, the band has a slightly lower profile overseas, but all that is beginning to change. Fresh off the release of their first full-length album, States, and a tour across the United States opening for City and Colour, North America is starting to take notice of the group.

The band kicked off the Canadian portion of its headlining tour with a show at Lucky Bar on Oct. 23, one of four sold-out dates across the country. Playing a mix of songs off both States and their two previous EPs, Woodland and Young North, the band managed to please both new and old fans in the audience. The show was a hazy, dreamy affair, echoing the sound of their new album.

“Some days, we were working hard to push out songs. Other days, we’d just sit there for hours experimenting with sounds and textures,” says bass player Sam Rasmussen. “A lot of the sounds you find on the album are actually mistakes, but we couldn’t replicate them. We wanted to fill the album out, make it sonically kind of full and layered.”

The Paper Kites’ interest in experimentation goes a long way toward explaining the band’s popularity on social media. The music video for “Young”, the first single off of States, is comprised of 4 000 pictures of 350 people, all of whom were volunteers who signed up after seeing an advertisement on Facebook. Though the video did not immediately go viral, a steady stream of attention has sent its views into the hundreds of thousands, and the band’s other videos into the millions.

“We put a huge amount of time and effort into our videos,” says Rasmussen. “We only just signed with a label, so we are very dependent on self-marketing.” That effort is clearly paying off, with hundreds of likes, comments, and shares on the band’s social media channels. However, even with the ever-increasing support from fans, both online and on tour, the band feels farther than ever from achieving their ultimate goals.

“Being here is one goal we have ticked off. We always said we would love to take it overseas. So that’s pretty cool,” says Rasmussen. “Being in a band, your milestones keep getting pushed further and further away. As you kind of get close to one, you create another one that’s further away.”

Despite the hectic tour schedule, he says the band has recently been reflecting on one of their first practices. “Looking back at that practice, we weren’t even a band—we were just mucking around. Now we’re on the boat to Victoria, about to play a sold-out show, or we’re standing in a 3 000 person theatre in Oakland, about to support City and Colour. We’ve had these moments where we look back and say, ‘gee, we’ve come a long way.’”