The New York-based band PaperDoll brought a little piece of NYC to China in October of 2011 on their NY2CN: You Can’t Stop It!!! tour. I had the privilege of sitting down with Paper Doll’s Teresa Lee (vocals and keyboards), Patrick Moloney (guitar), and Will Haywood Smith (drummer) for an interview and some Taiwanese snacks and bubble tea at TKettle on St. Mark’s in the East Village. We discussed the future of the band, adjusting to a new drummer, life on the road, their reception in China, and their exciting upcoming new album.
Fresh off their third tour in China, Paper-Doll is excited to get back in the studio this winter to work on their second full length album, which is expected to be available Spring 2012. With the two singles “You Can’t Stop It” and “Can’t Concentrate” complete with videos in anticipation of the new album, fans simply cannot wait for the other new songs to become available. The album will be produced by well-known musician Michael Moloney of the Irish art rock quartet, Director. The collaboration isn’t coincidental. Patrick and Michael
happen to be brothers from an extremely musical and accomplished family. Let’s start with a little bit of history. Who is the lovely Teresa Lee? Our cover girl, Teresa Lee, is of Chinese by-way-of-Taiwan and Thai decent. Growing up in Virginia, Teresa always wanted to sing ever since she was a little girl, but as any responsible Asian parent would do, her mother made sure she mastered the piano before receiving voice lessons. After Teresa finished her studies at the University of Virginia, she made her way to New York City. While in New York, she met Patrick Moloney. A native of Ireland, Patrick had already played and toured with his father’s band as a teenager before coming to America – what a way to earn your allowance! The bassist, Steve Paelet, joined the band later to fill the void that the original bassist, Jack Koch had left behind. The newest addition to the lineup is drummer Will Hayward Smith from England, filling in for former drummer Chip Thomas.
Their sound has matured over time into a well-established indie rock vibe with an infectious dance beat. When you see them live, you can’t help but get up on your feet and dance. Having played legendary venues all over New York City such as Crash Mansion, Mercury Lounge, and the Knitting Factory, PaperDoll has gained quite a cult following with a fan base that crosses ethnic divides and age gaps. At the World Leisure Expo in Hangzhou, the ubiquitous popularity of the band was extremely evident from little kids bouncing up and down to the music to seniors up on their feet and dancing to the music.
PaperDoll’s first tour in China garnered international attention drawing massive crowds to the US pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo. This attention brought them back to China for a second tour with more bookings in and around Shanghai. On this, their third tour of China, they were invited to Hangzhou for the prestigious World Leisure Expo. The band sold out of every piece of merchandise they had on them and were surrounded by fans seeking autographs and photographs with the band. A great story from one of the performances was when Teresa introduced each musician. It was a bit of a contest. Each band member greeted the crowd with a phrase or two in Mandarin. When Teresa asked the audience to make some noise for the band member with the best Mandarin, Patrick swooped in and stole the show with a spot on “I speak very good Mandarin.” in Mandarin. The audience went absolutely wild. It goes without saying that Patrick won that contest.
This was the first time Will Hayward Smith had ever been on tour with a band. As for his first experience on tour with a band with some notoriety, “it was grand.” On tour, he learned how to autograph going from [Will Hayward Smith] down to just [Will H S]. He also showed off in front of his bandmates by taking on the chef’s challenge of killing a chicken for their dinner. The chef had the band choose which chicken would become the evening’s hot pot guest. As a lark, the chef asked Will to do the honors. Like an expert, Will picked up the chicken by the feet, grabbed head and beak with the other hand, and quickly got the bird ready for the hotpot.
This winter, paper Doll will find themselves in the studio. Spring 2012 will be dedicated to promoting the new album with the possibility of returning to China and perhaps a tour in Taiwan. The future is bright and certainly busy for Paper Doll. For more information about the band, the music, and the shows, checkout their website at http://www.paperdollband.com.