When it comes to musical genres, The Paperboys aren’t defined by just one.
The eclectic Vancouver eight-piece – which is set to perform at the Farquhar Auditorium next month – draws on a variety of musical styles and throws them into one big melting pot. The recipe starts with some Irish jigs, throws in some African Highlife, adds a bit of Latin favour and southern bluegrass, and simmers into a unique, globally diverse sound.
“Most bands you go see have one defined sound – there’s not a lot of variation within that sound,” founder Tom Landa told the Saanich News. “That’s what most people expect. I think it takes people by surprise because it’s just different than what they’re used to and there’s so much variety that you can’t help but to notice it.”
But the genre-defying group didn’t always make such multifaceted music. The Paperboys started in the mid ’90s as a folk group, but evolved naturally to its current, hard-to-pin-down sound.
“The focus of the band at that point in time was to play folk rock music with a Celtic edge to it,” said Landa. “Little by little, we started incorporating different elements and genres to the mix. We started adding some ska, some Eastern European stuff, and eventually we started adding the Latin side of things.
“It’s a hard band to describe, apparently, because we touch on a lot of musical territory.”
The Paperboys’ multicultural music has earned them critical acclaim, including a Juno for their third studio effort Molinos and two West Coast Music Awards for Best Roots Recording. They have also received an American Indie nomination and a Genie Award nomination for Best Musical Score for the 2001 romantic comedy Lunch with Charles.
But Landa and his bandmates have remained humble over the years, noting there’s more to their music than awards and industry recognition.
“At the end of the day, it’s not really what guides us or what motivates us,” he said. “We sometimes feel more sense of accomplishment by receiving a letter or email from a fan who is writing to tell me this song got them through a really hard time in their life, or this particular song was their soundtrack to their summer of 2003.
“Success, in my eyes, is being able to connect with people in a deeper kind of way. That is by far the biggest reward.”
In concert, the bilingual band averages more than 150 shows per year, both as headlining acts at local venues and as part of some popular festivals. Their audience is as diverse as their music, meaning they’ll fit in with the Farquhar Auditorium’s university crowd.
“We’re not too old that they don’t relate to us anymore,” said Landa with a laugh. “I think our demographic has changed over the years – we play to an older-than-we-used-to-be crowd, but we still have college age people coming out to our shows.
“I think it really crosses generations and genres, even within the band. Our youngest member would be in her 20s and our oldest member is in his 50s.”
The Paperboys play Farquhar on Saturday, Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $26 in advance ($28 at the door) and can be purchased through the University Centre box office, online at tickets.uvic.ca, or by phone at 250-721-8480.
For more information, visit paperboys.com or uvic.ca/auditorium.