Updated: Mar 18
We're delighted to welcome Paper Tigers to Blowtorch Records. Based in Belfast, they were formed in 2018 by Michael Smyth with Hayley Norton on vocals and Stevey Henry on bass. They deliver a blistering alt-rock assault on your ears and put us in mind of powerhouse bands such as Royal Blood, System of a Down and Paramore. They gigged incessantly from the start and released their debut single Gucci Smiles in October 2019 which earned them a nomination for the Northern Ireland Music Prize Best Single.
Remarkably it was recorded live in one take at Bear Cat Studios in Belfast and captures the energy and essence of the band, full of fuzz and backed with a powerhouse rhythm.
The follow-up single Flames was released in March 2020, at the very beginning of the global pandemic. Looking back now, you could see the angry snarl of Hayley's vocals presaging the despair and frustration everyone associated with live music has felt in this awful year. Or you you could just revel in an uncomplicated rock 'n' roll ride through infatuation and lust.
Their third single No Ghosts Walk is the last of the initial batch of songs the band recorded. It bookends the opening chapter of the Paper Tigers story as they power up for whatever the next phase brings. Opening with the thundering drums which drive a hypnotic rhythm, it's an absolute ride through a story of dealing with grief and loss. Trying to retain what tenuous links we the living have to our loved ones who have left us, as Hayley sings in a pained reprise ‘It burns it stings, to watch you leave, not hold you every day’.
Paper Tigers leave you in no doubt as to their commitment, ability or songwriting chops. We can't wait to hear what they come up with next and to see them swagger their sound on a live stage in 2021. In the 1950s China's Leader Mao Zedong famously compared the American threat to a paper tiger, saying 'In appearance it is very powerful but in reality it is nothing to be afraid of; it is a paper tiger.' Maybe they're not a threat but these tigers roar. As they say themselves 'Count it off!'.