Paint, Greater Napanee News Article, September 3, 2014

Rock band Paint to make stop in Napanee this weekend

by Jim Barber
September 3, 2014

It's taken six years and three line-ups reboots, but it appears the Toronto-based rock band Paint is finally hitting its stride as a creative force within the highly-competitive Canadian music scene.

The band, which performs 50 to 100 times a year, will be making a stop at the Waterfront River Pub & Terrace in Napanee on Saturday, Sept. 6 to perform material from its two CDs and music DVD compilation. Showtime is 7 p.m.

Although Paint has toured across Canada playing most of the major centres along the way, band founder/vocalist/songwriter Robb Johannes said the quartet is happy to perform anywhere there are folks who appreciate good live music.

"In addition to the major markets, we like to go to communities that a lot of other bands wouldn't bother going to, and we find we get a lot of appreciation for that. It kind of takes me back to being a young punk fan and bands would go out of their way to do all-ages shows, and we would love them forever because they cared enough to show up and play for us," Johannes told the Greater Napanee News.

"As for Napanee, we have played in Kingston a lot and we had some folks who would come and see us every time we were there and they would say, ‘yeah, we live in Napanee and it's sometimes hard to get to Kingston to see you guys. You should come to Napanee.' So it was kind of by audience request and then we just needed to find a venue. We found the Waterfront and decided to give it a shot."

Johannes spent his youth playing in various punk bands but as he moved into his mid-20s he decided he wanted to play the sort of intelligent, well-crafted, melodic alternative rock that he grew up on -- and create his own musical signature by adding a healthy dollop of 1980s arena rock for good measure. So he moved to Vancouver and after playing in a number of bands and looking for like-minder musicians, by 2008 had put together the initial lineup of Paint.

"In Vancouver I was playing in three bands at the same time and they all started to wind down and I really wanted to start something that was really honest to the music that I love. So I found these two great guys and we shared the same musical backgrounds and the desire to do something really original and really special and it took off really quickly," he said.

That grouping did well, releasing a well-received album entitled
Can You Hear Me? a year later. But at that time, Johannes came to the realization that Paint had peaked as a west coast band. In order to ascend higher in the esteem of the music industry, and to be able to play more shows without the extensive travel necessary in western Canada, he decided the band had to return to Toronto.

"Unfortunately the other guys weren't able to pick up their lives and move across the country but I could. So with their blessing I moved to Toronto and started Paint from the beginning again in late 2009. And it's taken five years for the band to be as good as it is now. I took for granted how important the personnel was. I thought I could just sign up anyone but I was wrong. That group did pretty good and we worked hard at touring, writing and recording and got that second album out, but it still didn't feel right," he said, adding that the current lineup, which features guitarist Jordan Shepherdson, bassist Keiko Gutierrez and drummer Devin Jannetta gelled over a few months from late 2012 into early 2013.

"It took me deciding to be really selective as to who I brought into the band and to together create the band we want to be instead of the band we feel we need to be because of outside pressures and expectations."

That second lineup did put out another album,
Where We Are Today in 2011, but Johannes said that this current incarnation is truly what he hoped Paint would become when he formed the act back on the west coast. The band's music is truly a refreshing change from the formulaic, uninspired melange that currently dominates the airwaves these days, and demonstrates that they are creative artists who are always striving to be true to themselves and unafraid of letting its musical roots show.

"We have always admired bands that had a really long career and took the audience on an exciting journey and continued to reinvent their sound and their image. They would keep it fresh but not in such a way that they were just jumping on the bandwagon of whatever was popular at the time. So we all gravitated to bands like U2, Pearl Jam, and REM. We also liked Suede and Pulp," he said.

"And the new material that we have been touring with for the last year and a half, which is going to be on our live album that's coming out at the end of this tour and which will also be on the film soundtrack that we are recording right now, it's definitely got that 1980s kind of direction, like Journey or Honeymoon Suite. I don't think there's anything wrong with writing a good hook, because we seem to have a knack for it.

"We take an authentic approach to our music. And we don't insult the intelligence of our audience by pandering to them. We are giving them credit for being intelligent and saying, ‘yeah, we will go on this journey together and we will challenge you.' Sometimes we think it would be nice if maybe we could write songs like the stuff that's on the radio, but then our career would be shorter and we wouldn't get anything out of it creatively."

Paint's music is memorable -- even danceable at times -- but Johannes has taken great pains to ensure that there is not only musical depth, solid musicianship and songcraft but also lyrics with depth and meaning.

"There is a bit of a socio-political edge to the band as well because of my background – being a person of colour and not having a lot of role models in rock and roll – and the work I have done outside of music which includes a lot of non-profit work and social activism. And that's where a bit of the U2 and REM influence comes in as well because I am always looking at how we can bring the music and activism together," he said.

"And the things I write about have changed over the years. It depends on what is going on in life at the time. I think our songs do have sort of a general theme of overcoming struggle and turning the challenges and curveballs that life throws at you – whether they're about relationships, friendships or bigger political things – into something positive. We love stories of inspiration and people who have overcome adversity. But them sometimes we will still write a love song or break-up song too."

Paint has also embraced the medium of video as not only a way to promote its music but also act as an ancillary artistic statement.

"Music is such an all-encompassing experience. It not just about what you hear, it's about what you see and experiencing the people and the world around you at the same time. It's so much more than just an aural experience. So we have always incorporated video into our shows. I know I was really inspired by U2s Zoo TV tour. And thinking about that we have ran with the idea of getting more involved with video, as a statement about the visual, distracting world we live in and as a way of making the live show more engaging," he said.

"And doing a video is more accessible and affordable these days. We couldn't have done a video for every song on our last album if this were 10 or 15 years ago. Not many bands at our level have put out a high-quality video for every song and then released a DVD compilation. And we are also doing a short feature film, and the songs will act as kind of the narrative for the film. Then we will release the songs as our third album."

Johannes said he hopes that Paint will continue to write and perform thoughtful, melodic and memorable songs for as long as there are audiences to hear it, working towards the goal of being able to make a good living making music, but without compromising the principles and creative ethics that have allowed the band to carve out a unique niche on the current Canadian musical scene.

"It would be great to start escalating to a level where we are touring and supporting bigger bands or even headlining. But we know that it's a marathon and not a sprint if you want to do it right and maintain your integrity. So if we are still around in 10 years and have somewhat of a name and have a fan base that supports us no matter what we do and we keep making music that's interesting to us, then that's all we can really hope for at this point," he said.

For more information on Paint, visit

The original text of this article can be found at Greater Napanee News.