Paddlefish is getting set to issue their brand new studio album, Flyer, tomorrow, a fun, eight-track romp through the best of modern and vintage indie rock that will introduce you to their flair for addictive hooks and captivating storytelling. Written primarily by frontman and main songwriter Owen Misterovich, you’ll find a lot to relate to in Flyer, a collection of songs about that stage in life where you’re caught in between being a kid and full-fledged adulthood. As anyone who has experienced this would know, it’s not easy to make sense of all that’s going on around you, but Misterovich and his bandmates do a splendid job of putting these feelings into words, and music.
Misterovich wrote the entirety of Flyer over the course of his first year at university in Chicago, far away physically and emotionally from his hometown of Springfield, Missouri. It was a trying time for him, challenging him in a way that he had never yet experienced. The eight cuts found on the album combine to tell a story that recaps Misterovich’s own personal journey through disillusionment which gives way to acceptance, and eventually results in personal growth.
After moving to Chicago to begin his studies, it wasn’t long before Misterovich had to come to terms with an extreme level of fear and disappointment that really began to wear him down. Away from home for the first time, he found himself weathering the storm of a harsh winter while cooped up in a windowless dorm room with few friends. Left to his own devices, Misterovich poured his emotions into his music, developing wild tales of failed space travel, dorm room spiders, and never-ending highways.
Recorded at Pieholden Suite Sound in Chicago, which was founded by the late Jay Bennett of Wilco, Flyer is Paddlefish’s third record, the follow-up to Lidsville and Spill Me! To more thoroughly dissect the setting and atmosphere in which Flyer was written, we spoke to Misterovich about the writing process, developing it while disappointed by his new reality, and how it compares to the band’s previous releases.
In listening to your new album, Flyer, it feels like there’s a strong connection to college and indie rock. Who are some of the artists you were listening to when writing this record that you think really show through in the final product?
Owen Misterovich: “This record definitely showcases all of our influences. You can hear a bit of Wilco in a lot of the songs. But we were influenced by countless artists. Flaming Lips, Sonic Youth, Elliott Smith, Dinosaur Jr., Stereolab, Sparklehorse, The Zombies, The Band, just to name a few. We just tried to take different elements from our favorite records and mold it into our own thing.”
Flyer was largely written in your first year of college in Chicago after moving there from Springfield, Missouri. Did you have any plans to write music before leaving for college or did you just abruptly start writing songs as you adjusted to a new life?
“I am always writing. After living in Chicago for a while, I started to notice a subtle theme in the songs that I was writing. This is where I started to put it all together as an album. I had a group of around fifteen songs that I made in my first semester of college. I’m always writing at this frequency, but sometimes it’s a good exercise to ditch all of my previous songs and kind of just start over. This is what I did for the songs on Flyer.”
In that first year away at college, you were faced with a disappointing reality of being in a new city experiencing the worst of winter all from the confines of a small dorm room. Would you say that writing this album was a coping mechanism for you through a difficult time?
“Yes! Although looking back, things may not have been as bad as I was making them out to be. Starting adult life is just very confusing and mixing that with moving to a big city for the first time felt like a lot. I was just scared. I am now very comfortable in the city. I have no doubt that writing music helped me get through that time. It gave me a focus when it seemed like everything in my life was out of my control.”
How did you go about writing the album over the course of this year away at college? Did the other band members get involved in the writing process?
“Every song was written in a completely different way. I tend to write songs around my own personal musical discoveries. The 7th track, ‘Turnpike,’ was written around the discovery of using piano as a songwriting tool rather than guitar. Other songs were written around guitar riffs that I felt conveyed an emotion that I had previously never discovered. I tend to write the music and vocal melody first. I get to the lyrics later, because it can be a lot to think about all in the same writing session. I approach my bandmates with a fairly finished idea, but they still have the freedom to add their own part or any ideas that they have to the arrangement. The writing process for this record was very smooth. My bandmates, Bayden and Missy, are very solid players with a lot of great ideas.”
How does Flyer compare to Paddlefish’s earlier releases? What is new or different sounding about this record?
“This is definitely the most polished sounding record that we have made. This was also the first record with our current lineup. On top of that, we went into this record with a very different mindset. Instead of making an album full of rock songs, the goal was making an album that flowed and stood alone as its own thing. Pieholden Suite Sound was the studio that we worked in, and it was a big factor in how it all sounded in the end. We got to work with all of Jay Bennett’s old gear. Stuff that he used on all of the early Wilco records. This really inspired us to think outside of the box more. We put more keyboards on this than I could have ever expected. We used keyboards in the past, but nowhere close to this level. I think it made for a very different sound.”