Random Paw stuff


pitch.com | originally published: September 21, 2000
Around Hear

 Paw-sitive Review
Although Keeley has his doubts about the current local music scene, he maintains that the area thrived five years ago, a belief Paw can verify. When grunge broke and the rock world's spotlight shone on Seattle, prognosticators hustled to predict the next hip locale, looking for cities whose bellies were bursting with young musicians. Area music fans might recall that Lawrence ranked among these would-be band-breeders. Paw, the A&M-signed quartet that received widespread acclaim for its debut, Dragline, fueled the high hopes. Unfortunately, grunge died, A&M became a nonentity after a massive merger, and the quality of Lawrence's scene remained a well-kept secret.

Now there's new reason for optimism. After a five-year layoff, Paw has returned with Home Is a Strange Place, a Koch Records release that should be swallowed immediately by the postgrunge crowd that eagerly devours product from such lesser acts as Godsmack and Creed. (Early findings indicate that Paw has made inroads with the new-metal community as well. Amazon.com links the Deftones and A Perfect Circle, along with Pearl Jam, as the favorite picks of Paw purchasers.) This stellar seven-song effort proves that singer/guitarist Grant Fitch and lead vocalist Mark Hennessy, now joined by bassist Jason Magierowski and drummer Jesse Larson, have returned at the top of their game, with the growling stop-and-start rant "One Handed in the Red Room," the dark, gritty instrumental "Into the Woods," and the alternately tender and gruff "Blow Wind" each equaling the quality of their previous recorded output. Hennessy possesses a great rock voice -- commanding but emotional, clear but passionate -- and Fitch's intricate guitar work shames his power-chord reliant peers. Also, the group avoids traditional soft-verse-into-loud-chorus dynamics with multilayered songs that move from heavy yet melodic to subtle acoustic segments, often pausing for a moment before whipping back into rock mode.

The songs on Home Is a Strange Place stray adventurously between their compelling hooks, with "Naiad" featuring the most intriguing tangential instrumentation, and such jams surely will expand when Paw brings Home back to Lawrence on Friday night at The Bottleneck. Slurry, another grunge-tinged group, opens the show.

Paw puts its imprint on the rock world

(Dec. 10, 1993)

Candlebox, the pseudo-grunge act signed to Madonna's Maverick Records, has been bad-mouthing its rock counterpart, Paw, in its own backyard. At least that's what lead singer Mark Hennessy hears from a bartender at their regular haunt in hometown Lawrence, Kan. Hennessy and bandmates Charles Bryan (bass) and brothers Grant (guitar) and Peter Fitch (drums), bleary-eyed from eight months of nonstop touring in support of their A&M debut album "Dragline," are in Austin, Texas, and someone runs in to tell them Candlebox is in town.

"No way," Hennessy shouts to the visitor. "Find out what time they're playing and we'll go there and make some trouble." Hennessy explains the situation, foggy as it seems: "The last time we came through Lawrence, the bartender says, 'What's wrong with Candlebox? What happened between you and Candlebox? They didn't stop saying bad things about you the whole time they were here.'

"We've never met the guys in Candlebox. We don't know anything about Candlebox, so I'm going to threaten one of them to find out what's going on and just make it more interesting. If there's some animosity between us, I want it to be for a reason."

There's certainly no comparison between the two bands, other than both play hard-edged melodic rock and have become critical favorites this year. Hennessy then tries to downplay the inexplicable feud with Candlebox, saying he's a snob when it comes to bands anyway, since he personally prefers the sweet sounds of Kate Bush and Tori Amos over any rock group (excluding maybe Tad ... and Paw).

Paw, above all else, isn't afraid of anyone or anything, because it has succeeded even beyond its own wildest dreams. With an impressive demo and an equally eye-opening performance at Austin's South By Southwest music conference two years ago, Paw knew there was no place like home when the major labels came calling. Is it to their advantage being away from the rock capitals?

"Totally," Hennessy said. "Personally, it's to my advantage because it's a nicer place to live and breathe. It's a nicer place to grow as a band. It's cheaper and more comforting. I can't think of any disadvantages, really.

"It's happened for us, even though we live in Lawrence."

The underlying theme of the tracks on "Dragline," from a runaway boy's love for his dog in "Jessie" to the sexually explicit "The Bridge," is simple: it's okay to love and hate a person at the same time. "It was just a product of what was happening in my life at the time when I wrote those songs," Hennessy said. "I'm not a chauvinist and I'm not a sadist by any means, but it seems like I've been in too many relationships where women make me feel sadistic or crazy.

"If the record was written today, it probably wouldn't be written that way. Now we've all matured to a certain point. We've not as angry or out of control with some of our emotions."

29 November, 1995

I truely expected this Wednesday night crowd to be here for one song only, 1993's hugely successful single Jessie (y'know, the dog song) from Paw's debut album, Dragline. With that particular album packed with many more - may I say better - tracks, it was with great relief that the assembled were mouthing the words to most of the songs from both Dragline and Death to Traitors immediately.

I also expected a long festival of the mid-American rock thing, Paw being from Kansas and all. But from the word go they just battered and went as hard as anyone dressed in tight black pants ... no, they were perfectly at home in lumberjack beards and grease stained T-shirts playing some genuinely hard and fast music.

Guitarist Grant Fitch was spectacular in his ability to switch seemlessly between rhythm and lead guitar, the single guitar attack sounding like up to three at a time. Yes, the mid-American strum would appear often but it was beautifully threaded through machines that made it all sound like something from a metal stadium show or alternatively a full-ringing Buffalo Tom jangle. 'Pertie' like.

But ultimately, the whole crowd was blown away by the vitality and unerring power of vocalist Mark Hennessy and his ability to belt out an immense sound, his prowl and gusto sending a hell of a lot of people skyward and floating on top of the crowd. Supping on a 'Greyhound' between each track, having a chat and slapping hands with the crowd, Hennessy went hard with his fans lapping it up.

Songs like Couldn't Know and Sleeping Bag sent everyone forward into the pit and drew even the harshest critic's flailing nod of approval. Built Low, from the new album Death to Traitors, was an excellent diversion with its long driving instrumental section, and finally an appropriate Nirvana cover rounded off the eve with a bit of the furniture being removed from the ceiling.

A total surprise package (for me anyway) from a band which we will see more of, on the bigger live stages, in years to come.

Adam Connors