Eclectic and inventive, rooted in Americana but moving from lo-fi to country, folk, blues-rock and klezmer-punk, and held together by Andrew Levy’s distinctive vocals and literate, wryly humorous lyrics, Instant Happiness by UK alt rock band PAPER FISHES is both melancholy and exuberant, cathartic and celebratory, freewheeling Art-house rock drunk at the bar, a Lynchian road trip through the wide-open landscapes of rock ‘n’ roll nostalgia, a riotous all-night sing-along at a ramshackle country house. But it isn’t particularly instant or happy. Today, we’re giving you the band’s newest music video for the song “All Your Lives Are Dreams Played Inside My Head”, a slowly crawling, piano-led track that sounds both compelling and thoughtful, and the band’s special end of the year commentary
The video for ‘All Your Lives Are Dreams Played Inside My Head”’ was conceived and shot by Paper Fishes singer Andre Levy during a two-week self-isolation period in the autumn of 2020. Filmed in black and white with a stationary camera, rudimentary set, low angle and cramped frame, the video draws on the song’s introspective lyric, its sense of dislocation, and its interweaving themes of failed expectations, restless nostalgia, lost loves and fraying relationships.
Instant Happiness is available on limited edition coloured vinyl from Rough Trade Records, Bristol, UK.
Paper Fishes’ core lineup comprises singer & songwriter Andre Levy (lead vocal, piano, rhythm guitar), Simon Edwards (Fairground Attraction) on bass, and Aram Zarikian (Seamus Fogerty Band) on drums.
“The video for All Your Lives Are Dreams Played Inside My Head is the second DIY video I’ve shot for my band Paper Fishes in 2020.” – comments Andre. “The first, Orange Paint, was shot during the summer lockdown, and this one was shot during a 14-day self-isolation period in the autumn. The introspective lyrics and song’s sense of dislocation made it feel like the perfect choice for that time and the style of video.”
Asked about his take on the passing year, he adds: “For the band, 2020 has been a mixed year, but we can count our blessings. We’re not hungry or homeless, or living alone in an apartment we can’t leave. We’re all healthy, so we appreciate that we’re amongst the lucky ones. Musically, we got to digitally release our debut album, Instant Happiness, having recorded and mixed it in 2018-19, and put out a limited-edition orange vinyl, which looks and sounds great, and that we’re really happy with.”
“But promotion has been hard, we’ve had to leave a lot of things out (we don’t even have an official band photo yet) and gigging is non-existent, so it’s been difficult getting the music to an audience. We’re a new band and are starting pretty much from scratch and it’s not been easy to build a fan base. So I made the videos, partly to help promote the band and the album, but also partly so I had something creative to do, a short-term project to focus on.” – he continues.
Looking ahead, PAPER FISHES have some plans for 2021, though it’s hard to make definite ones with so much uncertainty still.
“Over the summer, the bass player (Simon Edwards) and I worked in his studio to finish another track, Video Promised us the Future, which we plan to release in 2021 as a single.” – elaborated Andrew. “I’ve put together the material for a second album, which we hope to record in 2021, restrictions permitting. And of course we’d love to finally play some shows to support the album if that becomes viable again. Not just for promotion reasons, but also because we love playing live and it’s a big part of why we all became musicians in the first place. We definitely miss it. We haven’t actually played any music together for some time, so it would be nice to get that rolling again.”
To wrap-up this year musically, we asked PAPER FISHES for their list of preferred records released in 2020 and here’s what we got from the band’s singer Andre Levy. He recommends a couple of albums from 2020 and mentions some older things he has been listening to in the last year as well.
Words by Andrew Levy
Starting with the new releases, first up is Matt Berninger’s Serpentine Prison. His wry, literate and complex lyrics with The National have been a big influence on my writing and I was eagerly awaiting this album. It hasn’t disappointed. The music is very well put together, and Berninger is on great form lyrically and vocally. It’s not groundbreaking, just really good, and I like that.
The lead single and video, Johnny K, were great, and I’m a big fan of his previous album, The Curious Hand, so will definitely be giving this some time. Seamus’ drummer Aram Zarikian also plays in my band (Aram and I first met at one of his gigs). He gets to dance a bit in Seamus’ band, but he gets to hit the drums harder in Paper Fishes. I couldn’t say which he prefers doing.
And following straight on from that, with more utterly shameless self-promotion, it’s Instant Happiness by Paper Fishes. This is my band’s debut album and I just can’t help myself. It’s alternative rock but takes in a little country, blues, folk and klezmer-punk too. If you could listen to it on continuous repeat for the next 6 months, we’d be very very happy.
As for pre-2020 music, this year my obsession with Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush has just gone crazy. It’s a great vocal performance (the second release with the re-recorded vocal) and the chorus is the most incredible hook. It has also taken my sing-along emo-gurning to wild new heights.
I’ve also been listening to a lot of Cincinatti’s Wussy.
I’ve been a big fan of theirs since the late-00s and was lucky enough to see them in the UK in 2016 and 2018. They’re a great rock band and fantastic songwriters. I’m also totally besotted with Lisa Walker, but don’t tell her that, it would just be embarrassing for everyone. They have a bunch of albums, they’re all worth listening to, but I’d start at the beginning with Funeral Dress and go on from there.
And one final, very late addition to the list is 2019’s ‘A Goddamn Impossible Way of Life’ by The Paranoid Style. I’ve literally just started listening to it while I type this up and it’s great.
Is this my new favourite band right here? Am I just over-excited and over-reacting? Will I regret writing this in the morning? Watch this space…