Fronted by the southern local Aswan North, this Charlotte, NC based 5 piece (7 when on tour) has crafted their own brand of rock music, uniting their diverse influences into a cohesive sound that's been resonating with fans nationwide. After having charted on Billboard's top 40 for Alternative Rock with 3 of their singles (Ride To California, Trinity, and Get Higher), and having landed a #1 spot on Billboards 'Heatseekers' chart in 2010, Paper Tongues looks forward to building on the successes of their debut album with a new release in late 2012.
Of course, the best place to catch Paper Tongues is on stage, where—having shared stages with acts such as Muse, The Dirty Heads, Linkin Park, Flyleaf, Cage The Elephant, Black Keys, Civil Twilight, My Chemical Romance, Sublime with Rome, Switchfoot, and Neon Trees—Paper Tongues is a band that thrives off the energy of a live show experience.
Paper Tongues agrees that the live show is one of the biggest aspects to what they are trying to accomplish. The excitement of the live experience only amplifies the already colorful album. Aswan’s vocal is tremendously loud and intense as he vamps on the melodies from the album and even gets into some of his old improve flow that he's done since back in the day before the band was signed. Devin and Joey’s guitars scream through a solid hip-hop driven rhythm section laid down by Danny and Luke. In the studio Paper Tongues builds keys, pads, synths, whirlies into their music and when on tour they are accompanied by one or two great piano players to hold down their electronica section. Summed up into one sentence, Paper Tongues is a band that lives for the live performance.
The adopted son of a United States Marine Core drill sergeant, Aswan grew up in Jacksonville, NC listening to the legends of country music. Conway Twitty, Ronnie Milsap, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Tanya Tucker, The Judds, Randy Travis, Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers, and Dolly Parton, to name a few, are the sounds that played in the ears of Aswan as a child.
When he was nine years old he began to sneak hip-hop and R&B tapes from his neighbor into his bedroom at night, and it wasn’t until high school that Aswan started listening to hard-core rap behind his parents back. He spent much of his time in school writing rhymes and daydreaming about finding his way into a life of music. But as a troubled youth, he instead found his way into a life of crime. Aswan began selling illegal narcotics, weapons, stolen checkbooks and credit cards. He spent a small time locked up in two different ROTC and eventually in the county jail. He made drastic changes and decided to leave that way of life behind. He finally left Jacksonville, NC and came to Charlotte, NC when he was 21.
Late one evening alone in the kitchen he started playing around with his voice and realized that he could not only rap, but he could sing.
“I thought singing was too soft back then, man. I never sang one solid note until I was 18.” says Aswan. He started mimicking other vocalists like Al Green, John Fogerty, Michael Bolton, James Taylor, and Aretha Franklin to see what his voice could do and found that he could sing everything they were singing if he worked at it. One of his biggest influences is Steve Perry from Journey, who has also now become one of Aswan's good friends. “I didn’t even know who Journey was until 2001, and I started playing it through my speakers like they had just been discovered,” he says with an ironic smirk.
In the early 2000's, Aswan and a friend started an outdoor music event in uptown Charlotte simply called, “Uptown”. Aswan and his buddies would get as many musicians as possible, plug into the city’s power, and play an improve set on the corner of Trade and Tryon for 3 hours. The music ranged from all kinds of genres, but most was experimental rock. This is where the musicians now in Paper Tongues met and started playing together.
It wasn’t until 2007 that Aswan called on all of his uptown buddies to join him out in L.A. where he was recording the songs that would eventually become the debut Paper Tongues album. Devin Forbes (guitar) and Danny Santell (bass) dropped out of college to join the yet to be formed group. Joey Signa (guitar) came on after getting back from school in Australia. Cody Blackler (piano, keys) and Clayton Simon (synth, keys, left the band in early 2012 to focus on his two children and wife) left their jobs to come out. Jordan Hardee (drums) left another band to join Aswan, but after being with Paper Tongues for three years, he ended up leaving in the winter of 2010 to help his siblings’ band back in their hometown. Shortly after, Luke Anderson, who had played on two of the songs for the 2010 debut album, joined the group as the full-time Member/Drummer in December 2010.
Currently, Paper Tongues is in the studio recording their second album, and plan to be touring to support the new release by the fall of 2012. Paper Tongues toured for three years on the first album and plan to do extensive touring on the second album as well. The band left their major label in December 2011, deciding to go it alone. Although this decision did not make the label happy, Paper Tongues still has a great deal of respect for them--thankful to have been given the opportunity to sign with them in the beginning. It is the band’s opinion that a record deal with a major label is not in the best interest of an alternative rock band these days, but Paper Tongues gives credit to Universal/A&M Octone for giving them their start in the worldwide market. Now the band is entrusting Aswan with running his own label to help the band reach the entire world with what they believe is a great addition to the music community in alternative rock.
Paper Tongues new single, “Amen” is the first release since their self-titled debut in 2010. After extensive touring in support of that album, they have spent the last year in the studio. While writing in New York, Paper Tongues have created magic with “Amen”. The song urges everyone to “lay your weapons down, forget about your problems” and reminds the listener how important it is to “just do you!”. "Amen" opens the door for Paper Tongues to return to radio with a heartfelt single for their fans, and at the same time giving the band the opportunity to share their evolution. They have a handful of singles (EP) to work with as they prepare to release an concept album that will show the world a new chapter in their fusion of innovative studio productions and classic songwriting.