All Tigers Aren’t Too Rough To Play With – An Interview w/ Molly Kummerle and Dave Mathes of Paper Tiger

*written by A’Damaged Pro for Electronica Life

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I was reflecting the other day on how many wonderful and talented people I’ve met since I’ve started documenting my experiences at events and festivals across the country. My mind wandered back to the very first festival I covered, Mountain Oasis, and  a conversation I had with two of the coolest people ever. Enter Molly Kummerle and Dave Mathes, of Paper Tiger. We met up midday in front of the arena where most of the madness would take place later that night and they took me on a walking tour of downtown Asheville. We decided to stop for lunch and have a more focused conversation.

A’Damaged Pro – I’ve always believed that there is power in music and that artists have the ability to reach the masses through their lyrics and their sounds. That being said, I wondered if artists felt any inherent responsibility for the well-being of the general public.

Molly – “I feel humans have a responsibility…we were playing at Camp Bisco and this girl looked like she was “in trouble.” I asked her if she was alright and took her to the first aid tent. We’re pretty responsible people in general. I think that artists should tell people to be responsible, play it safe, drink water, and if you are going to recreate you don’t have to eat every substance in your possession at one time.”

Dave – “It’s hard to walk that line because you don’t really know what you’re going to get into…”

The conversation moved towards the creative process of the album they were working on at the time (It has since been released).

A’Damaged Pro – What’s the inspiration for this album that just came out? Is it a progression of the last?

Molly – It’s the next step for us. Most of these songs I’ve been writing over the last few years. Our first record started out with a lot of vinyl samples and also the songs that I started. I started on an 8-track digital recorder so I was kind of limited. So this album started in “Garage Band.” It’s a lot lusher. A lot darker. More synth-driven. I am very excited about it.

A’Damaged Pro – Do you guys still find the time to keep additional creative projects in the works?

Dave – We haven’t been writing together a lot lately because we’ve been so focused on the new album.

A gentleman in plain clothes walked up to where we were eating and asked if we would like these books on, what appeared to be, meditation and guidance from a Krishna mystic. He claimed to be a monk. I offered him some of my venison chili while we chatted. He kindly declined and said it was because he was a vegetarian. We were waiting for the punchline or the sales pitch and here it came. The books, although a gift, were only made possible from the kindness and donations of others. We became the “others” without hesitation only to reflect moments later.

Molly – What just happened?

A’Damaged Pro – We just got rooked by a monk. If you could incorporate another instrument or synthesizer into the mix, what would it be? Do you have a wish list?

Molly – We already put the Moog mini-tar on it, several Native instruments…Dave has an  analog synthesizer, called “The Prophet” on it. We’re also going to have an assortment of brass instruments, particularly the trombone. I used to play trombone in the marching band in high school.

A’Damaged Pro – Have you ever considered recruiting someone from the Jazz capital (New Orleans)?

Pretty Tiger – Oh absolutely. Trombone Shorty, Big Sam, and Preservation Hall Jazz Band, just to name a few.

While the punctuation of Molly’s last comment is still floating through the air another gentleman approaches our patio area. He’s rocking the full monk wardrobe and shaved head. As soon as our collective eyes lock on his, we already know what’s about to happen. With a friendly salutation, I hold up my beer and a copy of one of the books that he’s holding. “Your boy already touched down here.” He bows politely and continues his path of enlightenment that leads somewhere else downtown.

A’Damaged Pro – What’s the last song you listened to?

Dave – “Reach for the Dead” by Boards of Canada.

Molly – Some Stevie Wonder.

A’Damaged Pro – Dave, any fantasy collaboration in mind?

Pretty Tiger – Ulrich Schnauss (Dave), Boards of Canada..my biggest influence on me…the only band that I truly love.

A’Damaged Pro – I’m sensing a trend here.

A’Damaged Pro’s final words…

Kind people, crazy interactions, and beautiful scenery have a way of manifesting into a wonderful experience. Paper Tiger’s Molly and Dave have found the way to balance being caring, soulful individuals as well as driven musicians. They love the music. They love the scene. I’m sure you can find them at festivals across the country, whether performing or taking in the vibe with everyone else. They support the art and the craft itself and respect the power of music. Their unique sound and their respective drive to create something new and entirely their own should not be mistaken for anything other than the magic it is.

Even though I can’t place the context and I’m sure I smiled, this was the quote of the afternoon for me:

Dave – “Music is my video game.”
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