Paper Airplane
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Paper Airplane


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"Band plugs politics into pop-rock on second album"

By Travis Hoewischer

Even the back-story for Paper Airplane's new album flows like lyrics on a legal pad. Couldn't you see this on a long-lost Dylan record sleeve?
"Newspaper man/writes a song for the dying/pop-rock tapestry/woven from political thread"
What started as a song request from front man Ryan Horns' dying uncle - about "the space between being alive and being dead" - unfurled into an entire album about America in 2008 and those in this country like his uncle: killing themselves to stay alive.
"He was going broke just trying to pay his bills, and it was around the same time the election was happening," Horns said. "I just thought of how many people who are going broke all over the country because they can't afford to go to the doctor."
Sadly, Horns' uncle died two weeks before the song debuted at the Toledo Pop Festival, but what's left is somewhat of a pop epitaph - not for him alone, but for the political regime dying out with the exit of the Bush administration.
A reporter by day, Horns said the material kept coming via the stream of national media coverage on the country's changing landscape. The songs that would comprise the band's second LP, White Elephants, just kept coming.
Although covered in pretty pop skin, tracks like "It's Almost Over" and "Until It's Gone" deliver a kick in the ass to old politics and stale rhetoric. It was new territory for Horns. "I've always been smack-dab in the middle, but since the Bush era, I turned into kind of a Democratic spokesman," he said.
The album, which will be released Aug. 21 at Ruby Tuesday (1978 Summit St.), is packed full at 16 songs - the rest of the disc balancing politically-charged anthems with lyrically lighter pieces.
"All the rest of the songs are almost overly inspirational to make up for it," Horns laughs.
Like any good reporter, Horns observes and documents on White Elephants, focused keenly on life in his adopted hometown of Marysville.
"That's another theme - small towns," he said. "Dylan songs all have lyrics that are always pointing to something that's about to happen. I tried to do that with Marysville."
The fact that nothing really does happen is irrelevant, Horns said.
"I tried to mesh all the ideas until they didn't make any sense," he says with a laugh. "That's the beauty of pop music: it can give you a feeling, but it doesn't necessarily have to say anything."
And in small towns, there is bound to be the occasional quirky happening that would work perfectly as a lyric. Especially in the police blotter.
"It was the middle of winter and there was a report about some woman, naked in the backseat of her car, outside a bar. I just thought that was funny," he said.
The band, which includes Horns' wife, Teresa Kent-Horns, on keyboards, Antonio Garza on drums, and Caleb Bandy on bass, is already at work on the next album.
"We're all on the same page, so it goes pretty quick," Horns said. "When I started the band, I had about 100 or so songs - I haven't even gotten to most of those. Antonio writes stuff and so does Teresa, so we will always have as many songs as we want to learn."
And the new songs fit with the band's new sound. Although their 2007 debut LP, Middlemarch, was highly acclaimed - it helped them to score opening slots for national acts like The Walkmen, Rogue Wave, and Mates of State - Horns admits the band's first recorded offering was somewhat unsatisfying.
"The first one was supposed to be arty chamber-pop - that's what I was going for," he said. "It didn't come out that way, though."
He didn't really have to go back to the drawing board, though. Just the guitar store. "Honestly, the most significant change was just going with using a louder amp," he said simply. "It just gave it that different vibe."
Horns hopes that terms like "jangly" that seemed to litter the band's early reviews might make way for heavier adjectives. He's even decided to take out the guesswork by stenciling listening instructions - PLAY LOUD - on White Elephants' inside cover.
"I always liked how David Bowie would put on his albums, 'Play really loud. Turn it up loud,' ... I just want everyone to hear everything," he said.
"We've sort of progressed from an artsy pop beginning. This album is more of an epic, with huge songs," he said. "On the first album, I tried to layer everything - sometimes successfully, sometimes unsuccessfully. Now, this is what we've been sounding like. It was like, let's just go in there and make it loud and as simple as possible."
The new record reflects what the band delivers on a live stage, said Garza.
"Everything was a lot cleaner [on the first record] than when we played it live," he said. "Now, we're going for something a little crunchier."
The band also has a little harder edge for their harder-edged themes. Still, even a more political Paper Airplane doesn't stray too far from the pop porch.
"I've just always liked that dichotomy," Horns said. "A mean song that says 'YAY!'"
- 614 Magazine

"Columbus Alive "2007 Bands to Watch""

BIO: It's frustrating to start over when you're making such progress, but Ryan Horns has rebounded strong from the demise of his last band, The Last Hotel, assembling a new group to bring his infectious, Lennon-inspired tunes to life. Paper Airplane has become a regular regional touring presence, and the long-awaited debut album this year should raise their profile even higher.
If you're looking for a gimmick, you won't find it here. This band doesn't dress in matching bolero ties, they don't wear Jared Leto levels of eyeliner, and they don't inundate utility poles with flashy posters before shows.
Singer/songwriter Ryan Horns and his latest indie-pop quartet, Paper Airplane, aren't interested in what's trendy. They're far too busy creating eclectic, substantive music that speaks for itself.
Paper Airplane began humbly, as little more than Horns' search for a backup band to showcase his solo output and songs from his days fronting the now-defunct Last Hotel.
Horns gathered a full line-up, including keyboardist Teresa Kent and drummer Antonio Garza—individuals he'd collaborated with on a solo basis. Once bassist Jeremy Foltz returned to town, "Everything fell together," recalled Horns.
Two years later, the members of Paper Airplane have grown into intrepid musical explorers, traversing surprisingly collaborative territory.
"In a way, we've totally changed," Horns explained. "Each member added such creative parts when we were arranging, we became more of a 'band unit' than just a solo band for my songs. It morphed into completely new songs. If you take any one of us away, it's not the same."
Kent agreed, saying "[Horns] definitely lays the groundwork for us, but he gives us all creative freedom to put our own personalities into it. I think that freedom totally comes through, and hopefully sets us apart."
Lately the band has been playing lots of local gigs to help defray costs of their forthcoming debut, Middlemarch!
Lyrically, the songs are largely inspired by stories ripped from the headlines of Horns' day job as a newspaper reporter.
Musically, Garza described the quartet's sound as "something that takes unexpected turns. The second half might sound completely different than the first. It keeps you on the edge of your seat when you don't know where it's going next."
Paper Airplane's melodic pop draws frequent comparisons to The Beatles and John Lennon, "but I think it's because everyone knows I love John Lennon," Horns said. "While I like the idea of not being compared to anybody, it might as well be somebody that's one of my musical heroes."

—Brooke Williams
- by Brooke Williams

"Columbus Alive review of Middlemarch"

It took Paper Airplane about three years to release its debut album, and it was worth the wait: Middlemarch is an exquisite record filled with brilliant musings on the minutia of daily life.
There's an unmistakable loneliness when frontman Ryan Horns sings about Toledo's Hillcrest Hotel in "Fire Escape" and only feelings of triumph on "Steps," written to a friend struggling to walk after suffering temporary paralysis.
The songs are warm, rich and delicate; each sounds fresh thanks to an inventive backing band quite fond of Wings' quirky pop. Together, they're able to translate Horns' melodies into one of the most accomplished local releases of the year. - by John Ross

"The Other Paper 2009"

Paper Airplane

Something old, something new
By Jon Theiss
February 3, 2009

Singer/guitarist Ryan Horns must have been getting lonely while touring solo 10 years ago, because he abandoned the effort just as it was gathering steam.
Working with drummer Antonio Garza, he later started recruiting others for a new project called Paper Airplane. Launched in early 2005, the group—which also includes Caleb Bandy (bass) and Teresa Kent (keyboards, vocals)—is writing and performing some of the best indie pop in Columbus.
And that’s a good thing, considering the amount of bad indie pop that’s oozing from butt-hurt wannabe poets from the ‘burbs.
Paper Airplane pounded the pavement in support of its first release, Middlemarch (2007), a collection of get-stuck-in-your-head pop gems that garnered well-deserved critical acclaim. Now the band is busy at work on its newest effort, White Elephants, on Columbus’s All Hail Records. Members said they’re aiming for a warmer, more “live” sound on the new album by recording on analog tape and ditching most of the digital equipment.
They’re throwing back to the past with some interesting instruments, too. They’ve incorporated a Stylophone (a synthesizer played with a stylus from the late 1960s) and an Ace Tone organ (another marvel of 1960s technology) to pepper their songs with off-the-beaten-path tones.
But just because they’re recording on older instruments in an older recording medium doesn’t mean they’re the millionth band to ape the same old clichés. Paper Airplane might remind you of pop bands of the past in some ways, but the band’s versatility and interesting take on their musical framework is the thing that differentiates the group from the rest of the pack.
“Lately we’ve tried to get a lot more rough sounding and tried to be a lot more interesting in terms of where the (song’s) structure’s going to go,” Horns said.
“I seem to think that indie pop can’t really go anywhere unless it starts incorporating stuff that’s going on right now—or else it’s just gonna be your basic verse, chorus, verse, bridge, then it’s over. So we’re trying to mix that up a little bit.”

- Jon Theiss

"Paper Airplane - Athens News"

The Last Shows of Quarter Not Least

Columbus/Cincinnati hybrid Paper Airplane is one of the finest bands around, and if you're in town this weekend, it would be foolish to miss them. Featuring Ryan Horns of The Last Hotel and Jeremy Darwin Foltz of Planet 12, the group performs pleasant pop perfectly, hitting every note and locking in precise rhythms. The guitar and keyboard melodies are insane, the rhythm section delivers, and it's a wonder to me that this band has not become national superstars. Plus they cover Radiohead's transcendent "Exit Music" and actually pull it off. - Chris DeVille
- Chris Deville

"Paper Airplane - Cincinnati's City Beat (Midpoint Festival 2007)"

Paper Airplane (Cincinnati/Columbus, Ohio)
Indie Pop
Laced with late '60s Psychedelia and Beatlesque goodness, PA's palette has grown from Jangle Pop to something pretty close to full-on Rock, but it has maintained the elegance that songwriter/frontman Ryan Horns infuses into all of his creations. Middlemarch is a satisfying snapshot of a band still finding new directions to grow.
Dig It: Jeff Lynne, Wings (Wild Life-era). (Ezra Waller) - Ezra Waller

"CiN Weekly article on Paper Airplane for Midpoint Music Fest 2006"

Paper Airplane
Between folk and rock, Cincinnati and Columbus

The group is hard to pin down, but Paper Airplane is an Ohio band. Members of the folksy indie-rock group converge for practice and shows and then crawl back to day jobs in Cincinnati, Columbus and Marysville.
The geographical challenge hasn't been a problem. Since the band's first show in December 2004, it has picked up music fans in Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis. On the festival circuit, the group already has MidPoint on its resume, and earlier this year Paper Airplane played the Midwest Music Summit in Indianapolis.
Frontman Ryan Horns is a veteran musician, leading his former project, The Last Hotel, for more than five years before starting up Paper Airplane, and he's got his priorities straight.
"The best goal for any band is to have no goals - other than having respect for each other and focusing on the songs," he says. "It's either going to fall together or fall apart."
Paper Airplane doesn't try to fit nicely into one genre - the music is too sweet to be punk rock, too earnest to be indie rock, too loud to be folk. The diversity of the songs, which start as Horns' acoustic ditties and become full orchestrations when the rest of the band has its say, make for a unique, carefully crafted sound.
Plus, there's Horns' incredible inspiration for lyrics, some of which come from his day job as a crime and city reporter in Marysville.
"I actually get a lot of song ideas from covering this city," he says. "Sometimes it's a weird balance of sitting bored at a desk one day and then the next I'm covering a police drug raid at 5 a.m."
They're quirky and hard to pin down, and just what MidPoint is all about. "We're really excited about MidPoint," Horns says. "Cincinnati rules because people actually seem to go out and see rock shows. Everyone seems genuinely interested in seeing new bands and experiencing what their city has to offer."
"If frontman and main songwriter Ryan Horns did his gig solo it would be great, but it's amazing as the full-band ensemble of Paper Airplane. (See the CiN story.) The Ohio band mixes an organ into their already lovely indie-rock mix, and the result is a whole slew of folksy, laid-back rock songs... My favorite band of the night, they've got a set that's captivating from beginning to end. No flashy stage antics, just genuinely great songwriting - Kari Wethington - CiN Weekly

- Cin Weekly

"Paper Airplane Lennon fest article in Cincinnati Enquirer"

Imagine ... another tribute
Lennon-inspired multiband gig brings out Beatles admirers


It has become an annual rite for many bands in the area: Lennon Fest, a celebration of all things John Lennon held every December this millennium in Athens, while Ohio University students are on break.

Ryan Horns, singer and guitarist for Cincinnati's Paper Airplane, has attended five of the six Lennon Fests and made the trek again last weekend with his band. But this time, they brought back a bit of Beatles holiday cheer.

"We learn all these songs for the Lennon Festival, and we basically put everything on hold for a couple months to learn as many as we can. ... We thought we'd do something different this year and bring something to Cincinnati," Horns says.

He has helped organize a Lennon/George Harrison/Beatles tribute at Northside Tavern on Saturday, featuring the Turnbull ACs and Athens' Red Dahlia.

Horns, 31, says Harrison was thrown into the mix in honor of his passing in 2001, though most of the night will be devoted to the music of Lennon and the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of his murder. He hopes to make the event an annual follow-up to the Athens gathering, but even if it's only a one-off event, Horns says the celebration of Lennon's music is as timeless as a Beatles melody.

"What's great about the Beatles and Lennon was that every song was focused on being timeless and the melodies ... you just can't place them in a certain time or genre," he says. "The fact that there are a lot of lyrics with Lennon that are specifically political has also meant his music has a longer lasting effect."

The show is also a chance for Red Dahlia to cement a reputation in Cincinnati. The alt-rock band has been playing here consistently for the past three or four months, and when they heard their friends in Paper Airplane were planning the Lennon/Harrison fest, it was a natural fit.

"We really hope to turn it into something bigger that we can do every year," says Dahlia drummer Felix Alvis, 30, whose band is planning to roll out Beatles covers including "Helter Skelter," "Sexy Sadie" and "Octopus' Garden."

- Cincinnati Enquirer

"Columbus Dispatch - Local Limelight"

Paper Airplane

Thursday, December 20, 2007 3:19 AM

Members Teresa Kent (keyboards, vocals); Caleb Bandy (bass); Antonio Garza (drums); and Ryan Horns (lead vocals, guitar)

Style "some loud guitar, pretty piano stuff, some excitable vocals, some pointless noise"

New music (available at

Concert All Hail Records Xmas show with Paper Airplane, Take No Damage and the Proper Nouns, 9 p.m. Wednesday at Skully's Music-Diner, 1151 N. High St. (614-291-8865, )

Admission $5 and $7

Paper Airplane, with two players who live in Cincinnati and two who live in Columbus, has released its debut album, Middlemarch.

Here is lead singer and guitarist Ryan Horns, who operates solo around the Columbus area as "the Last Hotel," on the band:

Q What does the music on your new album sound like?

A I like to think of our music as trying to rethink what made music from the '50s to the '70s so great but trying to modernize it.

On Middlemarch, the idea was to construct songs that don't go where you think they will but remain accessible. We're trying to celebrate the origins of rock 'n' roll and yet challenge people.

So many bands focus on genres and end up with 10 songs that sound exactly the same. . . . Our music takes the best of all genres and time periods, and then mixes it all together and creates something unique: lots of melodies, some loud guitar, pretty piano stuff, some excitable vocals, some pointless noise, a few high notes -- sometimes all within one song.

Q Why does your band exist?

A I have no idea why any of us play music. Lord knows there is enough unsavory crap we have to deal with trying to do this stuff. We should be nurses or sell cars. I could have more time to walk my dog, and he might not pee on the kitchen rug when I'm out at a show. I could finally paint the living room.

Luckily, I don't think anyone in this band ever remotely cared about trying to be famous or fitting in with the magnificently hip or pursuing some pipe dream about being rich. It was never even our goal to sign with a label -- which is why All Hail Records was a nice surprise to get involved with.

I think this band exists because it's a challenge for us. We love music. Music is a form of communication, and there are issues I want people to know about and certain sounds that perhaps I don't see being addressed.

As it is, we all go home every night and hear music in our heads like a crazy person might hear the voice of Abraham Lincoln telling them to punch a hole in the wall. That crazy person would normally end up with a broken hand. Fortunately, we just end up with a song.

Q What is your favorite quote about your band?

A "They're like Wings, if Wings didn't suck!" -- one of the fellows from (the central Ohio band) the Lab Rats

Q Why should someone see your band?

A I always say, "Instead of going to see the same band you see every other weekend because your buddy plays the xylophone in it or something, how about seeing Paper Airplane instead?"

I just think people would be really surprised by getting out of their comfort zone and seeing what we have to offer. There's a whole world out there beyond your buddy's band.

- Columbus Dispatch

"Columbus Alive awards for "Middlemarch""


Paper Airplane, Middlemarch
Paper Airplane combines clever musings on life with soft, inescapable hooks for an album that's irresistible and comforting on first listen.
<b>Columbus Alive critic John Ross names "Middlemarch" his Top National Release for 2007.</b>
1. Paper Airplane
I'm a professional music critic, which means I get paid to listen to music, but also that listening to music -- one of my favorite hobbies -- has become work. Doing what I do means you have to come up with interesting things to say about music you hate, awful sounding releases other people claim are important and really challenging things, that otherwise I'd turn off and toss aside. I wouldn't trade my gig for anything, but I miss being able to listen to music just to listen.
That's why Paper Airplane's debut record is my favorite of the year: It takes absolutely no effort to like. Singer Ryan Horns, who writes all the songs, is a disciple of The Beatles (he's probably say John, I'd argue Paul), and his songs have a bit of that intangible magic of Revolver and Abbey Road -- the alchemy fans are still trying to wrap their minds around and nail down. Songs like "Keeping Things Whole" and "Fire Escape" are immediately inviting and comfortable, as if they're from an old favorite album you'd put away and forgotten. The rest unfolds in similar fashion: Horns waxing poetically about the minutia of daily life, and his crack band following along with keys, drums, guitars and the occasional flourishes most are eager to overuse.

From start to finish, this is a stellar set of songs that you'll be humming in the shower for years. - Columbus Alive