The Paperboys were well ahead of their time.
The upbeat Vancouver folk band has enjoyed a steady “career, though not a massive career” for 25 years, in part, because of their decision to forgo record labels and retain control of their music, said frontman Tom Landa. It might be a well-established approach today, but it wasn’t when the group first started out in the early ‘90s.
“In terms of why it’s been a successful career, I really attribute that to the fact that we’ve remained an independent band,” he said. “We’ve retained control over our career. If we had constraints with a record label, we wouldn’t have as much artistic input or make as much money. We’ve been signed to smaller labels, but we’ve been independent, so we’ve been able to call the shots as we see fit.”
To celebrate that longevity (Landa is the only founding member left in the group, but much of the current iteration has been in the band for 10 years), The Paperboys embarked on a 25 year anniversary tour this year — which is set to make a stop in Whistler on Friday (Dec. 15), at The Maury Young Arts Centre as part of the Arts Whistler Live! Series.
“We have a long history in Whistler, but the last time (we were there) was a few years ago, so we’re really looking forward to coming back and reconnecting with some of the people who have seen us in the past and connect with a new audience. That’s the good thing about Whistler; it’s a tourist destination and you can link up with people from all over the place.”
The group has been doing plenty of that connecting all over the globe in 2017. With a raucous, high-energy, genre-hopping show, they’ve built a following in England, Ireland and Germany.
“It’s something we’ve been working on for 15 years,” Landa said. “We’ve been cultivating a following there and fanbase there. It’s all been at the grassroots level, but it’s been great. We don’t play massive rooms, but between 200 to 500 people.”
With a whirlwind fall and winter tour nearly behind them, the band plans to hole up and write more songs for a new record — which ideally will be released in the fall.
“Then we’ll ramp it all up again,” Landa said.
Although bands are selling fewer records these days, it turns out The Paperboys’ fans are still keen to purchase CDs. “We count on that,” he said. “We’re lucky our fanbase still wants to buy CDs at the end of the night. I have friends who play to younger crowds and they’re lucky if they sell three or four CDs (a night). It’s hard to make a living from selling records. You have to depend on the fee paid for the gig. But that has to be split with the agent and manager and on the hotel and gas.”
In the end, the band continues to tour — and make music — because they love it, he added.
“We’re really good friends, we work really well together, we enjoy each other’s company,” he said. “We like the music we’re making. That’s why we keep doing it.”
Catch The Paperboys at The Maury Young Arts Centre on Friday (Dec. 15) at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 and available at artswhistler.com.