Paper Tigers are an alt rock band based in Belfast. Formed in 2018 by Michael Smyth with Hayley Norton on vocals, Emma Rose on bass and joined by Matt Milner on drums. 2019 saw Paper Tigers come out swinging, gigging incessantly and releasing debut single ‘Gucci Smiles’ which earned them a nomination for Best Single at the NI Music Prize. This was followed by sophomore single ‘Flames’, released at the very beginning of the global pandemic. 'No Ghosts Walk' was released in October 2020 and became the bands most successful single to date. The three singles now have over 40,000 streams on Spotify.
To date the band have had plays on iHeartRadio, John Baker's Totally Irish show on 98fm, Dan Hegarty on RTE2fm, BBC Radio Ulster Across the Line as well as several other local and international radio stations.
The band have had premieres on XSNoize, Chordblossom and Rock N Load magazine as well as reviews or interviews in YMX Your Music Experience, Chordblossom, Rock N Load, Yeo Magazine, Messed Up Magazine, The Otherside Reviews. They were included in Rigsys Top 50 Irish tracks of 2020 and 2021 in the Daily Mirror. Playlisted by Golden Plec, Lucy McCourt, She Makes Music and Gig Radar amongst others.
Paper Tigers have supported Life and Hundredth on their Irish tour dates and upcoming support with Red City Radio and Wood Burning Savages. The band recently played the Climate Craic Festival at Stormont to 2000 people and received UTV coverage as part of this.
The band recently received Arts Council NI funding which allowed them to record their debut EP with Ryan McGroarty from Beauty Sleep and have it mastered by Robin Schmidt (Placebo, Wolf Alice, 1975). The first single ‘Blue Light Trails’ was released in Oct 2021 and was followed by a headline UK tour, 6 dates across England and Scotland. A second single and the title track ‘Graceless’ followed in November, with the video premiering on XSNoize. Both singles had accompanying videos shot by DanDan Media which now have 7k views on YouTube and 12k streams on Spotify.
2022 will see the release of a new single ‘Moloko’ at the end of February and the full EP release in April. Paper Tigers have already started booking shows and festival dates for this year with another UK tour at the end of summer on the horizon. The EP is called Graceless so each song ties back to either yourself, someone else or an external force or influence making you feel graceless. Be that a partner, social media, your own mental health issues with anxiety or depression pulling yourself apart. It’s the red thread that runs through each of the songs.
The debut EP from Paper Tigers ‘Graceless’ was born out of an intense period of introspection. A deep dive into the psyche of vocalist Hayley Norton and guitarist/songwriter Michael Smyth. The red thread that runs throughout the EP is one of how internal and external forces impinge upon your world and your psyche to make you feel graceless. This takes many forms from looking for happiness in the wrong places (‘Blue Light Trails’) to battling an omnipresent internal monologue (‘Graceless’) or even a partner (Moloko). The EP became a lightning rod for this torrent of intense emotion and in doing so served as a vehicle of catharsis. Within the EP there is no redemptive state, no resolution to questions thrown back while staring into the mirror, it’s a scream that isn’t heard but a scream that’s intoned together.
All the tracks are hard, heavy, intense. What brightens them up is the female lead vocal, adds some spice to the music that you feel cannot be played any faster. However, given the genre and the instruments involved, the songs seem to be similar to each other and it gets harder to distinguish them as you go through the tracklist. Blue Light Trails is a standout track, starting almost as a ballad and gaining energy as it develops and slows down again. The melodic arrangements catch your ear straight away. Not easy to understand the lyrics but it doesn't seem to really matter in this case.