On March 1st, the group of Hard-Rocking high schoolers from Clarksburg known as Finale Hill officially announced that its guitar maestro Kevin Basko had split, on pleasant terms, with the three remaining members of the band (Pictured L to R: Mike “The Machine” Diguglielmo, Kane Maraday, and Jimi Reno), and, that the bulk of the group would carry on with a new six-string savant, George Verveniotis, under the moniker The Paper Suns.
The announcement shocked a lot of Finale Hill fans as the Bluesified four-piece had recently released a new EP, The Basement Sessions Vol. 2, in early February and was only weeks removed from sharing The Wonder Bar stage with the likes of Tara Elliott & The Red Velvets, and the 2011 Metromix Breakthru winners Lost In Society, which begged the question, why the sudden split?
“In regards to Kevin’s departure,” said The Paper Suns’ front-man Jimi Reno, “he’s been doing his own thing for the past few months and was mainly focused on his solo project. He was also planning on leaving for college in August, so we couldn’t have him cut out of the picture like that if we were going to be signed to a label. So, we replaced him. The agreement was very mutual.”
On March 2nd The Paper Suns announced its presence with a cavernous, and fuzzy untitled single, which seemed to proclaim the outfit moving in a new direction, sonically, compared to its Blues-Rock sound of the past.
“Our untitled song is a taste of what’s to come,” said Reno. “It was recorded in practically one take, into one mic, where my brother [Kane Maraday] sang backup. I mixed it just so it would be listenable and I think it is a very good representation of our new style. Please do not think for a minute that we are moving away from the heaviness of the past. We are just looking to broaden our horizons in a way, and we’re going to attempt to mix the two styles.”
According to Reno, The Paper Suns’ style draws influence from ’70s Rock N’ Roll with an intense focus on vocal harmonies.
“Bands like The Rolling Stones and Alice In Chains have developed this specific vocal sound which makes them who they are,” explained Reno. “I think the way our harmonies and melodies are being built will give us our own original sound.”
Reno went on to disclose that Basko’s contributions on lead guitar did not support the direction the band was looking to move toward, and a fracture was imminent.
Which leads us George Verveniotis, the man chosen to fill the gap.
“George is a very interesting addition,” said Reno. “His musical tastes are very similar to ours, however he tends to sway towards a more classic style with influences like the Grateful Dead, Phish, and Genesis.”
“In terms of skill, George is bringing plenty to the table,” continued Reno. “He is not only a guitarist, but a pianist as well. His influences show through his playing, but he tends to throw his own twist on them, ultimately giving him a very original sound.”
Although Reno did state The Paper Suns would not “move away from the heviness,” it appears the counter-cultural haze and malaise associated with Verveniotis’ major influences have seeped in deep, as the fuzz is not only evident in the outfit’s debut untitled release, but also in the trippy, tonal, soundscape named “A Conversation Piece (Part One)” which dropped on the evening of March 9th.
The band’s latest track is something one would expect to be conjured up in the dimly lit, crocodile infested, depths of Avey Tare’s dreams, or even Brian Eno’s, but not from the mind’s of a group who’s majority is fresh off the release of a Kings Of Leon-esque number named “Moonshine.”
“We really enjoy talking to fans and close friends,” expressed Reno. “And if they enjoy tracks like this, I can see something similar coming out on an EP. We want to make everything personal between the band and the true listeners. “Conversation Piece” is part one of who knows.”
Speaking of the outfit’s first studio release, a full length record is in the works.
“The album we plan to record in New York City is still set to go,” said Reno. “The studio we were working in is currently being redesigned, so we had to hold off for a bit. Perhaps we’ll write a legitimate EP first, before we go in to record the full-length.”
For a band that is less than two weeks old The Paper Suns is working fast. The band is planning to release new songs in the very near future and Reno predicts the group’s first live performance could come as early as the end of the month, referring to it as “an audition,” in the sense that the collective now has to prove itself all over again.
“We haven’t lost the contacts we were working with,” said Reno, “so we have some important people who are still expecting a lot of good stuff from the new lineup.”
As new music is churned out and expectations mount, what appears to be making this fast paced transition go over so well is the camaraderie felt between band members.
“George was always a close friend of ours,” expressed Reno. “We’ve all shared the same music and interests for a while, so the chemistry is evident…Expect The Paper Suns to be just as tight, if not, tighter than Finale Hill.”