“I don’t think I could ever make up these kind of stories in my head”, says Paris Youth Foundation frontman Kevin Potter when opening up on their forthcoming album. “They all happened to me, they’re all set in Liverpool city centre, about the same girl, and the same unhappy ending.”
It’s this vulnerable, relatable honesty found at the core of the Liverpool five-piece’s songwriting that thrusts you into that all-too-familiar world where living for the weekend reigns supreme but you’re left picking up the pieces on Monday morning. One where you’re consumed by the ecstasy of love and the pain of heartbreak.
These are five lads writing heart-on-sleeve modern anthems that bleed into dizzyingly euphoric ambitious arena indie rock.
Their new single, the Rich Turvey-produced Late Night Lost Love, brilliantly fuses these fundamentals as it guides you through the instant familiarity of tightly holding onto the remnants of a broken relationship before deciding to let go for good.
“I got really interested with that kind of 21st century way we break up”, Potter tells Daily Star Online. “Back in the day I can imagine you probably go your separate ways and you get over it a lot quicker.
“But now with social media you’re still living in your ex’s life. Every day, day in day out.”
His observational lyricism combined with the band’s gargantuan, cascading soundscapes launched Paris Youth Foundation’s remarkably rapid ascent just four years ago.
Picture the scenario. You’re an emerging band that decides to upload a track on a whim to the BBC Introducing uploader. Just weeks later, you’re all over national radio and preparing to play your first ever live gigs at the Reading and Leeds festivals.
An unthinkable proposition? Not for Paris Youth Foundation.
Just the simple mechanical action of popping their first song If You Wanna to Soundcloud saw their lives change in a spark and direct the quintet on a surreal journey of lavish record label meetings, headline shows, and BBC Radio 1 playlisting.
Now more experienced artists, Potter and pals Tom Morris Jones, Jamie Hives, Nathan Price and Paul Bates are ready to write a new chapter.
Daily Star Online gave Potter a call to talk about their new material, how the band has navigated lockdown, how he gets into the mindset of songwriting and their hopes for the rest of 2020.
Hi Kevin, how has lockdown been for you and the band? Have you had the chance to work on anything?
“It’s a very surreal time to be alive but I think from a selfish point of view you’re on your first album, you’re doing the singles, you’re expecting it to come out in the summer, you are kind of gutted that everything’s been put on hold – but you’ve got to keep your perspective.
“There’s serious stuff going on in the world and as long as you’re healthy we’re the lucky ones.
“Not a lot has changed for me. I spent a lot of time writing on my own anyway. I’m sure a lot of bands and artists are doing this but it’s a time to get ahead of things and get as much as you can down.
“That’s all we’ve done really. When we finally get out of it we will be streets ahead on the writing side.”
Was it strange navigating through it in the early stages as a band?
“Absolutely. Because it was so serious and unprecedented earlier on, there were a few weeks that you don’t even think about music.
“Once lockdown happened, we were honest. There are no festivals happening this year and will be lucky if we start playing early next year.
“We just had to be honest with ourselves. It was a time to get our heads around it. For me it was getting perspective really, rather than getting in a hole saying we’ve lost a year.”
You’ve released the new track Late Night Lost Love. What was its writing and recording process like?
“If you’ve heard our band or you’re a fan, this album is trying to tell a whole story rather than individual songs. They’re all stories within themselves. It’s a break up album, fundamentally.
“I got really interested with that kind of 21st century way we break up. Back in the day I can imagine you probably go your separate ways and you get over it a lot quicker. But now with social media you’re still living in your ex’s life. Every day, day in day out.
“For me and a lot of other friends, you go through your work and you’re being sensible, paying your rent. But Saturday night you turn into these other people. I think both sides of the break up kind of becomes a bit of a free for all.
“What happens in these hours doesn’t really matter and you wake up on Sunday morning and you end up being sensible.”
It’s a real upbeat, anthemic return. Is it influenced by anything?
“It’s a tough one. I think everyone’s got a favourite band, which is a good thing. There’s a varied selection. I love my straight up indie guitar bands but there are guys in the band who wouldn’t listen to that outside of it. That’s the good thing about music.
“I love lyrics. I am a big fan of The National. The way he’s written lyrics in the last 10 years is something that has inspired me.
“It’s one chapter in a really sad story. These are sad songs, there are no two ways about it. I think if you listen to them at a field at a festival, or on Spotify, or in the car, you’ll probably be drawn to the melody but deep down these are really sad songs.
“They are quite light hearted in the way they’re presented but it’s a sad story about two people who broke each other’s hearts.”
How do you get into the mindset of writing songs?
“The best thing is living that life I’m trying to describe. I don’t think I could ever make up these kind of stories in my head. They all happened to me, they’re all set in Liverpool city centre, about the same girl, and the same unhappy ending.
“A lot of these songs have been written in the middle of one of these awful nights out, or is something someone has said to me, or the other person in the relationship has messaged. They have all come from this fragile and honest place.”
You recorded it at Parr Street Studios with Courteeners producer Rich Turvey, what did he bring to the table in terms of its production? What did you learn from the sessions?
“He’s just a great guy. I haven’t got the biggest amount of experience of working with massive names and massive studios. With Parr Street, you kind of take it for granted. I can walk there and back in half an hour. You see Coldplay on the wall and you think ‘wow this place is special’. It doesn’t take you long to realise it.
“Someone like Rich, the moment you talk to him you know he’s there for no other reason than to get the best out of your songs. When you step into the practice room or want to show him a song, he turns his pro head on. He’s always searching for a way to get to the next level. We were really lucky to work with him. He’s been on the back of working on Blossoms’ number one.
“It’s when you get home from recording it, you look back and think we were really lucky to do that.”
You’re from Liverpool. How has the city and its scene moulded you?
“I think it’s an amazing city to be a band in. I’ve spent some time in London and I can’t imagine being a band there. I can’t imagine how it works. How spread out everyone must be, where you practice.
“Liverpool’s got an amazing history and it’s small and compact. It’s got some amazing facilities. There’s the Elevator in the city centre. In that space you’ve got Circa Waves. That’s basically where everyone who’s done well is based right now.
“From a songwriting point of view, it’s a location for our songs really. That’s the most special thing about it.”
Your first ever shows were Reading and Leeds festivals – that must have been an incredible experience for such a new band? What did you learn from that period? What was it like seeing your first song uploaded to Soundcloud put you on this amazing trajectory?
“Very strange. I feel like I’ve told this story so many times and every time I tell it, they think it’s been exaggerated from a PR stand point to get a bit of hype around it but it is true.
“We had one song on Soundcloud and were asked to upload it to the BBC. Within a week it was BBC Introducing’s song of the week, and within two weeks we were playing Reading and Leeds as our first gig.
“You hear all these stories that’s someone’s exaggerating and you think ‘that didn’t happen’ but it did. It’s one of those things that it will always be up as a highlight in our lives personally.
“It sent us down on a surreal path, amazing meetings in London, meeting great agents, being a part of a great agency and meeting great managers. All the kind of cliches you hear when you’re 14 thinking about joining a band. We’re so lucky that it became true for us.”
How do you think the band’s evolved since forming?
“I would like to say that everything we do is a bit better. All that happened a year to 18 months too early, if I’m being honest.
“With success, it breeds, not laziness, but you think ‘well I’ve been played on Radio 1 now so whatever I write now will obviously get there’. Don’t get me wrong, we needed to be at a higher level back then to make the next step. It’s taken us a bit of time to come back down and work on the craft a little better.
“We’d like to headline Glastonbury right now but that’s not the way the world works. We just got a great opportunity and we’re very privileged to have done that and humbled by it. Now it’s all about working hard and we’re very lucky to have people that listen to us and come to see us live.”
What are your plans for the rest of 2020?
“It’s such a tough time at the minute. I would never want anyone to think that I just want a number one album with so much s*** happening in the world.
“From a band point of view, we want to get some new songs out there. It’s been a little while now. The album will probably be next year. Just keep releasing good music really, man.
“Hopefully that starts with Late Night Lost Love and we can get another one out and another one out. By the time the album does come along hopefully we can go and tour it, and tour an album that thankfully people will be able to hear in full.
“We’re excited and it’s about getting as many people in the country and the world as excited for the album as we are.”
Paris Youth Foundation’s Late Night Lost Love is out now via Modern Sky