If you’ve caught yourself feeling nostalgic for the good old days lately, allow us to introduce PAPA. The Los Angeles duo of Darren Weiss and Daniel Present has spent the past two years fine-tuning a specific brand of bare-bones guitar music; think catchy riffs, soaring harmonies, and just enough bluesy grit to keep things interesting. For last year’s A Good Woman Is Hard to Find EP, the guys explored heartache with a refreshingly no-frills approach, Weiss’s soulful croon and triumphant drum work perfectly encapsulating the sounds of a broken heart.
On Thursday, March 7, the band heads north to Santa Barbara for a show at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club. In the coming months, they’ll also unveil PAPA’s long-awaited debut album. We recently chatted with Weiss about the new songs, the L.A. scene, and the roots of rock ’n’ roll.
How’s the record coming along? It’s good; 90 percent of the album is finished and recorded. We’re leaving for tour this weekend, and we’re going to be in the studio pretty much 24 hours a day starting tomorrow morning to finish two more songs, and then the album will be done.
The EP has a very specific story behind it. Does the full-length also stick to a theme? Yeah. A lot of the stuff was written through the course of a breakup that it took me a lot of time to get through and make sense of. For better or worse, there are a handful of songs on the new album that relate to the stuff that was expressed on the EP. That being said, there are a lot of different things that I’m writing about. I feel like there are themes — they’re not repetitious, but there are three things in particular that I seem to gravitate toward: women, social aspects of what it means to be a young American right now, and insanity. Being a young, insane American in or out of love is usually what I’m inspired to express.
What does that sound like? Well, there are a lot of dynamics in all of those things. There are love songs that are excited about being in love and they’re sweet; there’s songs that are painful about having a broken heart; there’s songs about insanity that are really manic sounding and more aggressive. It’s tough to say. I feel like we’ve made a really diverse record, which is something I’m really proud of.
How do you compare PAPA’s records to the live show? I think we work really hard as a live band, with our energy and as craftsmen with our instruments. The process of making an album is really different to me. But my favorite albums are albums like Ray Charles’s Genius Sings the Blues or Roy Orbison’s In Dreams — they’re all records of a musical moment that happened. To me, a record should be capturing something. I believe in rock ’n’ roll music, and a lot of the spirit of rock ’n’ roll is totally extricated from the way records are made today.
Is it a good time to be making music in L.A.? I think so. I’ve never really felt like I belong to any scene. We have a lot of close friends, and there are a lot of great bands in L.A., and there’s definitely an element of camaraderie. We go to each other’s shows, and our friends have put out our records in the past, so in that way, it’s really exciting and cool. But artistically and where we’re coming from, I sort of feel like we’re on our own, which doesn’t bother me in any way. We’re doing what we’re doing regardless. But it is a good time, and L.A. has been really good to us.
PAPA plays SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) on Thursday, March 7, at 8 p.m. with opener Hindu Pirates. Call (805) 962-7776 or visit clubmercy.com for tickets and info.