Here is more from my interview with Paper Tongues drummer Jordan Hardee...
Which tour has been your favorite so far this year?
We did a radio promo tour where a few of us went around the country for three weeks. Did a lot of acoustic performances and had a lot of face time with pop stations. It was definitely a lot of hard work and time consuming. But I think it was successful and really paid off. A lot of [radio DJs/programmers] said it was the best acoustic performance they’d ever seen. That was the general consensus.
I caught the band play back in July at the Glass House in Pomona. How was that tour?
We really connected well with Neon Trees and Civil Twilight. They’re actually some of our close friends now. That was a great triple headlining tour - just a great experience. We all grew from that experience.
You also played Bonnaroo earlier this year.
That was probably one of the coolest things we did. We didn’t get a huge stage, but during the set, tons of people walked by. It was a cool setup because we were right in the middle of Bonnaroo. So everybody who was walking by, we were playing right for them out of a tent. By the end of the set, there were hundreds of people. I think it was really great exposure. And it was cool just to play a huge festival. It was one of our first big festivals, so it was a lot of fun.
Do you find the band’s sound translates well outdoors?
I do. I actually think that it goes over better when we play in bigger places. Our sound is very much for the masses. It’s a big, broad sound. We have anthemic choruses.
Aswan is a real dynamic frontman. Are you ever surprised at what he does on stage?
A lot of us have known and played with Aswan for awhile. So we know where he’s going to go. We haven’t been caught off guard too much. He’s definitely a great frontman and knows how to lead the crowd. We just follow him. Whatever he wants to do, we’re ready to go.
Are you guys glad to see more radio stations playing your music now?
We’re just building. It’s stepping stones. Any help we can get. We’re in the beginning process…Switching to pop [from alternative] radio is a whole new thing. We’re just hanging on and seeing where this thing goes.
When the album came out last spring, did you go to a retail store and buy your own CD?
I did. I was waiting for that. It was our first album. We were all stoked about seeing it in the stores. We went to Best Buy and got copies. It was cool.
You’re credited with co-writing music for three of the tracks. “What If” is one that you kick started, right?
It was. One day, me and Aswan were at the house hanging out. I said, ‘what do you think about this bass line?’ It just came on the spot. We didn’t have to think too much about it. The vibe was just there. The rest was history. I had a little idea for the melody and he started writing the lyrics. Now it has huge potential and it’s exciting.
You play several instruments?
Yeah – keys, bass, guitar, drums. Just something I picked up when I was little. I wanted to be well rounded and started practicing a lot of different stuff. In different bands [before Paper Tongues], I would play guitar, bass or drums. It helps out.
Who were some of your early influences? I read you were a Dave Matthews Band fan at age six.
I used to love them – had all their live DVDs and CDs. Studied that stuff, musicianship-wise. Huge classic rock fan – Tom Petty, Allman Brothers. I love The Roots, Fugees. All over the place. Indie rock. Before Paper Tongues, I was singer/bass player in a dance/rock band like Franz Ferdinand/Interpol.
How was the experience doing the video for “Ride to California,” directed by Wayne Isham, who helmed all the memorable Bon Jovi and Def Leppard clips back in the ‘80s?
That was incredible. It was our first video. We were all buzzing about it, just stoked to even have a video. Then seeing all the crazy light rigs. They had trailers for us all and crazy food. It was a really fun experience. Just to have someone on that level take an interest to us on our first video, was really encouraging. It was just a blessing.
You and Joey are the only ones actually from Charlotte. What was the music scene like there when you started the band in ’07?
It was local, between friends and growing. We’d all help each other out, play gigs together and it was a fun communal thing. There are college towns and big bands would come through there. It’s definitely growing and getting bigger.
Are you guys ever amazed at some of the lyrics Aswan comes up with?
He generally writes fairly quickly and we’re like, ‘how does he come up with this kind of stuff?’ A lot of it is trying to be well-rounded in the sense that we want a lot of people to hear the music and feel like they can connect to it. A lot of those intentions are in the back of his mind as he’s writing. He wants everybody to feel special. A lot of the songs correspond to that.