Having just released their first full-length album, Los Angeles-based PAPA will soon be rocking the West Coast, headlining here in Sacramento at Harlow’s. A genre-defying mix of rock, punk, jazz, and folk music, the band immediately catches the listeners’ attention and promises something for every music lover. The singer and drummer, Darren Weiss, lends the group a distinctive voice to unify such a wide range of elements. A big point for the band, Weiss says, is not to belong to any one genre. They certainly do so, crossing genres even within their new album, Tender Madness. The sound, however, does maintain a consistently steady, driving tone with honest vocals and a talent for harmony. Weiss explained the band’s variety, saying, “We never set out to write a song in a specific style. We just care about great music.”
Drawing influence from numerous artists, from Patti Smith and the Talking Heads, to David Bowie, to Otis Redding, Weiss described how PAPA’s music comes not from trying to emulate any particular music style, but rather from experiencing and responding to the musical world. Growing up in LA, Weiss and his friend and bassist Danny Presant have both spoken before about how much live performances have influenced their style and especially their shows. Singing from behind a drum kit, Weiss keeps the spirit of punk and rock and roll alive in the energy he puts into PAPA’s live shows. When asked how he manages to connect with the audience despite the physical barrier, Weiss said he doesn’t find it difficult. “I don’t think what people respond to is the shape of a guitar or the shape of a microphone,” he explained.
Weiss did express excitement at the idea of headlining their upcoming shows due to the freedom it will allow. While PAPA has never tried to fit with any other genre or style of music, it does make matching up with bands for performances difficult at times. Their recent tour supporting the Cold War Kids for three months was the longest PAPA has toured with one band. Asked about this experience, Weiss said they had a great time on tour, but he is looking forward to headlining and being able to direct the energy of the shows.
Along with the newly announced tour, PAPA has their first full-length album to celebrate. Previously having put out an EP, PAPA’s newest release came out October 8, less than a month before the announcement of their West Coast tour. Through twelve tracks, Tender Madness showcases the band’s versatility as well as Weiss’s strong vocals. The album is heavy on the rhythm, complimenting their singer’s rough voice, reminiscent of Springsteen. Showing their roots in both rock and folk music, the band’s new album deals with American culture, youth, sex, and rebellion, or as Weiss once put it, “the ideals of America, women, and insanity.”
In the last month, Weiss and his band have kept busy, however, Weiss himself has also found the time to publish his first book. Titled The Only Thing Worse Than a Woman is a Man, the book is a collection of poetry and drawings collected over the past three years. He recommends it to anyone who enjoys PAPA, saying they share a very similar vibe, as a great deal of the work was created while on tour. Weiss as a visual artist draws inspiration from New York’s art scene, which he feels gives voice to the kind of energy and curiosity Weiss is interested in as an artist.
Sharing that energy and drive to explore is clearly important to Weiss as both an artist and a musician. For PAPA’s upcoming tour, Weiss intends to give a show that anyone can enjoy, “coming from an honest place and trying to create something out of thin air.” Musically diverse and inviting, this band promises to win over a crowd through their genuine passion for the music and the stage.