Paper Tongues’ debut album isn’t due out until March 2, but the North Carolina septet’s expectations have been stoked by a strong radio and Internet response to its first single, “Ride to California.”
“It’s been this ongoing thing,” says frontman Aswan North. “I wouldn’t say we’re getting used to it, but we definitely have an awareness that something is occurring that’s outside our control, and it’s very cool. We’re pretty stoked.”
North, a former boxer, formed Paper Tongues in 2006, recruiting its members from the Improv Music Experience, open-mic style jam sessions in the streets of Uptown Charlotte where the musicians performed for the city’s homeless. At the same time, he was cultivating a relationship with Los Angeles-producer Brian West (Nelly Furtado, K’Naan), who heard North’s music on MySpace and started bringing the singer and his bandmates to the West Coast for recording sessions.
“Ride to California,” North Recalls, “was something I freestyled in the studio. We were working on a different song, and I said, ‘This beat goes with a rhythm I’ve got vocally’ and a melody that makes me sound like an auctioneer, and I started doing it, and he flips out!
“He puts his hands on his forehead ... and says, ‘You don’t understand what the hell you just did.’ I’m like, ‘What’d I do?’ ‘You just gave us an F-ing hit!’ Now, it looks like he was right.”
Paper Tongues perform Saturday (Feb. 20) at Small’s, 10339 Conant, Hamtramck. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $9.89. Call 313-873-1117 or visit www.smallsbardetroit.com.
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