Welsh duo Paper Aeroplanes launch their new album
With a new album, festival dates and forthcoming theatre tour, Welsh duo Paper Aeroplanes are busier than ever.
They may have enjoyed critical success with their second album – 2011’s We Are Ghosts – but Paper Aeroplanes won’t be resting on their laurels.
For the Welsh duo are upping their game as they release their third long-player,
With a title inspired by the way we communicate by short text messages and 140 character Tweets, the rich, breezy 11 tracks find Sarah Howells and Rich Llewellyn embracing a fuller, more energetic, band, sound.
“This album is definitely a little different to the last,” says Howells, who has been performing with Llewellyn as Paper Aeroplanes since 2009.
“We decided early on to record it in a proper live studio rather than just at our tiny bedroom studio in Rich’s [Cardiff] flat. Recording the drums and bass as a band, playing all at the same time definitely adds an energy that wasn’t as present on previous albums.”
And it’s not just the music that’s changed.
“The songs have a darker edge on this record too. It’s a more intense side that started to come through on our Time To Be EP and has progressed with Little Letters. I think the lyrics are more raw and honest as well.
“I don’t think we consciously wanted to write different songs, they just came out that way,” explains Howells. “We’ve changed as people, the music is bound to change with us.”
But while Little Letters marks a new chapter in the duo’s development, the influence of the Welsh landscape continues to loom large over the new material.
“It’s the raw, untouched beauty of much of the West Wales coastline which has always provoked imagery and metaphors for me when lyric writing. I especially love the winter on the beach with violent waves pounding the shore and it feels almost frightening and exhilarating at the same time.
“Then there’s also the ugly, man-made grandeur of the refineries and the power stations that mark my immediate views growing up,” says Howells, who hails from Milford Haven, though he now resides in London.
“Oil tankers and the lights on the water at night.”
The lyricist and singer cites several songs as examples.
“With Circus, I was caught up with the idea of making music, rather than lyrics, that sounded like waves lapping the shore then reaching a crescendo. The kind of restrained, calm seas that gradually let loose. Fable and Red Rover [also] use water imagery that in my mind I can place, even down to the cove or beach I meant.
“It’s also the remote and often ‘left out’ feeling of a small town so far away from a city,” she continues.
“Growing up we had no real big influences from visiting bands or shows and fashion, and cinema takes ages to trickle down. Pembrokeshire kind of has its very own style and fashion and I feel that makes our music a little less easy to place and less trend-focused.”
Little Letters’ opening track, When The Windows Shook, makes reference to specific events from Howell’s childhood in the ’90s which rocked her home town.
“When I was a child, there the Sea Empress disaster – a huge oil spill when the tanker ran aground – was a very big event in the Milford Haven Estuary, I could pretty much see it from a bedroom window in our house.
“My granddad managed the tugs and so I felt really connected to the event as did everyone in the town. Milford seemed to make the national news for the first time in my life! A few years later there was a big explosion at one of the refineries which actually made our plastic double glazing blow in and shook the house. We all ducked for a few seconds thinking it was maybe a bomb.
“More recently, four people died in another explosion at one of the refineries,” she adds, referring to the 2011 tragedy at the Chevron Refinery in Pembroke. “The oil industry is probably the biggest job provider in our county, so it’s a reflection on that.”
Coinciding with the album’s release last week, Howells and Llewellyn, who hails from Aberporth but now lives in Cardiff, have lined up a hectic period of live appearances that takes them through to the autumn.
“We have a month long tour of UK and Germany,” says Howells. “Then we’re playing some lovely festivals over the summer, including Isle of Wight, Wood Festival and Wychwood. We’ll be releasing our video for next single When the Windows Shook … then in October we have a theatre tour of Wales and further UK tour dates in churches and alternative venues.”
Paper Aeroplanes play The Glee Club, Cardiff on SundayMAY26 at 7pm. For tickets, call 0871 472 0400 or visit www.glee.co.uk/cardiff
ith a new album, festival dates and forthcoming theatre tour, Welsh duo Paper Aeroplanes are busier than ever.