We catch up with JT Daly, Chad Howat and Nick Aranda from the Nashville-based indie pop band, Paper Route, before a recent show with K.FLAY at New York City’s indispensable Bowery Ballroom. Having just completed their sound check, the band is enjoying an hour of downtime in the venue’s bar. It’s empty except for the bartenders and their services are not being utilized.
“We’re pretty chill. That should be mentioned,” says Daly, looking extremely chill as he sips a bottle of water “K.FLAY on this tour was like, ‘I’ve never really toured with a band like you guys.’ We were looking around and Chad was mixing a song, I was working on a track for someone, Nick was doing yoga and our drummer was meditating. It was completely silent.”
So, like, no trashing the dressing room?
Howat and Aranda laugh, adding jokes about how they’re all super boring now. Daly continues, “If you’re looking for the sexy interview, you’re about seven years too late. You’re always figuring out ways to survive. That was our way to survive then. You’re always coping. And now we’re coping in different ways.”
Daly and Howat have been touring together for nearly a dozen years, with Aranda first playing shows with them in 2011 before becoming a full-time member in 2015. They reflect on their earliest tours, when they would sneak six guys into a single motel room (usually, ironically a Motel 6) and subsisted on the fruits of their Taco Bell gift cards.
“When you’re starting out you think you’re invincible,” Daly says, “and then you realize that maybe you’re not, and if you’re going to keep doing this, you have to figure out a way to take care of yourself. So…our rituals have changed.”
That’s not to say they’re dabbling in Puritanism. They feel like they’re in a different mental space now and are more concerned with being conduits for the music they make onstage, which, if you haven’t seen them, is music of the big, open and glorious variety.
“I think the more healthy you are mentally, the easier it is to tap into what you want to tap into” says Howat, “but if you’re coming from an unhealthy place it’s like that’s the only card you can play.”
“I used to be really anxious and I realized I was drinking a lot before shows and I would think to myself, ‘I can’t wait for tonight to be over,’ and I used to have this instant high once a show was over. Now I’m trying to do the opposite, where I take care of myself mentally as well and I try to be very present. Going on stage completely sober so I know exactly what’s happening at all times.”
The band’s sober-ish attitude certainly hasn’t stopped their audience from partaking. “This tour the audience has been pretty drunk-y,” says Aranda, noting on the relative youth of the crowds—owed at least in part to their song “Chariots” being featured on the FIFA ‘17 soundtrack (and on this month’s Shower Sessions). And while post-show beers are still par for the course, there’s another activity that’s gained reverence from the band.
“Sleep is the number one thing to stay sane,” says Howat.
Sleep…and a healthy dose of personal grooming. That’s something we can stand behind and relate to. We ask about how they keep clean while keeping this newfound clean on the road.
“If possible, I’m a multiple shower a day kind of guy on tour,” says Daly. “I tend to always be freezing. So my new thing is to just sit in the shower and stretch.”
“I go to the steam room or sauna when I can,” says Howat, “It makes me feel clear.”
“We’re like turning into a hippie band,” Day says.
“We smell way better than a hippie band,” Howat says, laughing.
“I travel with essential oils now…,” says Daly.
“They get passed around a little bit,” says Aranda, “Seriously, when you bust out the frankincense oil, people are like ‘what is that, just pour that on my face!’”
“That’s not an exaggeration,” says Daly as we get word that the Ballroom is about to open its doors, “You just evolve. This is our best foot forward today.”