It's been funny to watch PAWS develop.
At first, the Glasgow three piece were ramshackle, almost chaotic - all bludgeoning riffs, sweat and tears. As time has progressed, though, PAWS have refined their sound, developed their ideas and made the leap into becoming an Actual Proper Rock Band.
And a very good one, at that. Debut album 'Cokefloat!' was a triumph, adding some sugar sweet melodies to those buzzsaw guitars, while Philip Taylor's lyrics were at times quite painfully honest. Of all the grunge inspired threesomes to spring our way of late, PAWS most definitely mean it.
Recently completing a UK tour, we asked the band to jot down some notes and take a few snaps. Along the way they'd play countless shows, meet new friends (Elijah Wood?!) and demolish a few instruments.
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Tour gets off to a good start. For once it’s a beautiful sunny day as we head north to Aberdeen to kick things off. Luckily, the first show goes pretty well too. The crowd is bigger than any other we’ve played to up here and the new songs we’re crow-barring into the set get a pretty good reception. All in all it’s a pretty reassuring way to start.
Après gig we get a chance to catch up with old friends and learn a little more about Aberdeen. It turns out that the Gents who run Gerry Loves Records (the first label ever to have been stupid enough to release anything of ours) are in town for the night. Andy and Paddy grew up in Aberdeen and seem intent on reliving their youth. It’s off to some punk/metal/alternative/pirate* bar for an endless supply of Jack and Coke. It’s at this point things start to get a little hazy…
*Jordan from Blades (distinguished scholar and member of support band) assures us that Aberdeen has the highest population of native UK pirates. 20% of the folk in this bar seem to have walked off the set of a certain Disney film.
Perhaps feeling a little worse than we should starting out on our second day, we head for the bustling metropolis of Inverness. Phil and Josh play an in store gig for the lads at Creative Skate store as I head off to find a place to park the car. Later on, after we’ve loaded our stuff into the venue, Josh and I head out for something to eat. Candlelight sets the mood as we find a romantic table for two just off the main street. The tone is somewhat dampened when we glance outside to see a massively drunk gentleman stumble towards the window where we are seated. In a projectile manner, he proceeds to throw up directly onto our window just as our food arrives. Delicious.
Tonight’s gig can only be described as rowdy. Saturday night in Inverness and everyone loves a drink. Extra points go to our friend Jamie who in an effort to impress a girl attempts an elaborate ‘air kick’. This sends him over backwards in a distinctly dramatic fashion (and will tomorrow find him in crutches – get well soon).
We’re awoken to a fine breakfast on Sunday morning. James from the skate store put us up for the night - he and his girlfriend have been consistently hospitable to us over the past year the feast they provide us with sets us up for the long drive to Edinburgh.
Again, it’s a beautiful day for a drive. Other than the dead badgers everywhere. We’ve seen four in the last two days. We reach the conclusion that there must be some form of suicide pact.
Edinburgh has always been kind to us and tonight is no exception. The Wee Red Bar is rammed and we are made to feel incredibly welcome. Thank you to the people of the capital.
It’s an early show tonight, so we’ve decided to head for home. We blast though to Glasgow in search of our own beds and, by the scent beginning to permeate the car, a much needed shower.
Last time we were in Manchester Josh and Phil got beaten up. So this time we hide in our hotel with SpongeBob until it’s time for Soundcheck.
It’s nice to see Virals for the first time since we played with them in Amsterdam. It’s a chance to pool our collective memories of what exactly happened that hazy night.
The gig goes fairly well and we safely find our beds without incurring any form of harm.
After getting stuck in Manchester traffic for what must be hourswe embark on a risky drive through the winding roads of ‘Snake Pass’ and make our way to Sheffield, a place Josh will later describe as his ‘favourite English city… after Wakefield of course’.
It’s a late show for a school night. The promoters have pushed stage times back as Swim Deep are playing across town and folk have said they want to come to both shows. We’re a bit worried early on that no one will show, but the place ends up rammed and rowdy. Everyone’s had plenty of time to drink and it ends up being a really fun gig. However, Josh becomes the second casualty of the tour, his finger exploding as he smashes it off the drums.
Onwards to Oxford. Last time we played here it was for Gathering Festival and was a really memorable gig for us. It’s nice to be back.
It’s our last night with Virals, who have been consistently awesome. They kill it, and all though we have to say goodbye, we’ll see them in a couple of weeks in Texas.
We’ve got to head to London tonight, as we’ve got Visa interviews at the US embassy tomorrow.
It’s an early start. 6am. We didn’t get into London until two, and didn’t find sleep until 3. Coffee…
We are incredibly worried about our Visa interviews. In the last few weeks we’ve heard from some sides that it’s painless and from others absolute horror stories. There’s a fair wait, plenty of time for suspense to build, preparing ourselves to be blindsided with awkward questions. When the time comes we are called up to what can most closely be described as a bank kiosk. We’re asked, ‘Where do you intend to travel in the United States?’. Upon our reply we’re met with, ‘well you’re going to have a great time at South By South West’. Done.
Walking away shocked at how easy that was it now begins to dawn on us that we will actually be going to the US next week. Happy days.
It’s a really good day. Later, we get to play a sold out show. It’s great to play to a bunch of people we don’t know, as well as getting the chance to see a bunch of our London friends. We head out afterwards for one too many mojitosand Phil and our friend Alice from Big Deal bump into their favourite hobbit.
Feeling particularly awful, we head for the seaside. We’re welcomed into Brighton with a lovely cup of tea at the FatCat office. After a pleasant catch-up, and a youtube education on dogs with human faces, we head up to the Green Door Store for sound check.
It’s another really fun show tonight, and as we come off stage we’re presented with rum cokefloats. Promoter, and all round good guy, Ed Lilo also then presents us with a bottle of Buckfast. Ed really does know how to make us Scottish boys feel welcome. Things from this point on get a little hazy…
Leaving far later that we should, we somehow make it to Newcastle in record time. We arrive to discover Newcastle under a blanket of snow. Navigation becomes difficult in a city we’ve not been to that much, but we manage to somehow find the venue.
Heart Attack and Vine is a really cool space. It’s in a warehouse, with old paintings hanging everywhere and a stage lit with fairy lights. And it’s BYOB. A dangerous way to end the tour. Tonight’s gig is predictably rowdy. Everyone seems up for enjoying their Saturday night out in Newcastle. By the time we play it would be fair to say everyone’s a little tipsy and it makes for a really fun set – a really great way to end the tour.
We head back to our friend Malcolm’s in South Shields, a place I’m told our car will undoubtedly be broken into.
Luckily it isn’t and we’ve made it home safely after a pretty successful tour.
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'Cokefloat!' is out now.