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Standout Track: “Cairo,” the first single from Paperhaus‘ upcoming self-titled album. A mélange of strumming psychedelic guitars and harmonized vocals set to a frantic, dancey drumbeat, the song morphs into heady, drifting guitars by the five-minute mark. But it’s a false ending: It kicks back into gear with about a minute to go and finishes strong. If it sounds raw, that’s because it’s supposed to. Guitarist Alex Tebeleff says the entire album was recorded on tape and mastered with analog equipment. “We tried to be as pure to the source of the tape machine as possible and not fuck it up with digital square waves,” Tebeleff says. “And I think we did a good job.”
Musical Motivation: A friend suggested that guitarist Eduardo Rivera write a song about the Cairo condo complex in Dupont Circle, one of D.C.’s oldest and tallest buildings. “At first I was a bit apprehensive,” says Rivera. But the more he read up on the former hotel, built in 1894, the more he wanted to write about it. Rumor has it that the building once held Gatsby-esque parties, including one that involved 1,000 singing canaries, and the line “the rope breaks, the snow makes” references a supposed murder in which a painter fell to his death after his safety harness was sabotaged.
Basement Breakup: While recording the single, the band and its then-bass player, John DiLascio, split up in the middle of the song, partly due to the temperature in the studio. “It was like 100 degrees in the basement,” recalls Tebeleff. “We were pouring sweat for hours.” But the breakup had been a long time coming; DiLascio’s relationship with the band “had run its course.” “We were just like, we’re going to finish this and it’s over,” Tebeleff says. The band and its former member have moved past the split and are on “amazing” terms now.
Stream “Cairo” after the jump. Paperhaus plays the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage tomorrow, Sept. 19.