PAPER Thin frontman Spencer Scott grew up your typical Newcastle punk kid. He loved the noisy and visceral guitars and the intensity they possessed.
But by the time he'd finished school Scott was searching for music with deeper meaning. As a fan of Canadian punks Propagandhi, he'd often heard about the band's original bassist John K. Samson leaving after the first two albums to form his own more melodic indie-rock act, The Weakerthans.
Intrigued, Scott listened to The Weakerthans' second album Left and Leaving, but became instantly hooked by the third record Reconstruction Site, released in 2003.
"The main thing about this record for me is that John K. Samson is just a phenomenal songwriter," Scott says. "This was a huge record for me and for appreciating songwriting and the beauty of the subtleties of his writing."
The Weakerthans never found commercial success or mass radio airplay, but across four albums they established a reputation as a band that provided punk with an emotional heart, without drifting into the whiny world of emo.
Samson's lyrics about suburban life in Winnipeg were often influenced by literature and their sound combined punk, folk, indie-rock and Americana. Despite the band disbanding in 2015 after years of inactivity, The Weakerthans' influence is readily heard in the music of Frank Turner, Jeff Rosenstock and fellow Canadians Japandroids.
"The Weakerthans were a band that never got their share," Scott says. "They were popular in circles but they never had the big radio hit or that song that bumped them to the next level."
Reconstruction Site was The Weakerthans' most successful record and saw Samson thematically deal with grief and loss. Three of the tracks - (Manifest), (Hospital Vespers) and (Past-Due) adopt the same melody and tell the story of a terminally ill patient in hospital.
The album's best known song Plea From A Cat Named Virtue is written from the point of view of a depressed man's feline, while Time's Arrow was inspired by the Booker Prize-nominated novel of the same name, written by Martin Amis.
"This was the record that made me think a lot more about songwriting," Scott says. "There's so many parts of his songwriting that I'm inspired by.
"It's almost an economy of words. His ability to say a lot of things within the space of one sentence has always stuck with me.
"It's something I think a lot about when I'm trying to write a song. How to express the thing I want to express in the shortest way possible."
Scott's emo-punk band Paper Thin released their latest single Malleable in May, which was recorded in quarantine with the three members sending in their individual parts separately. Paper Thin are in the final stages of writing for their debut album they hope to release later this year.
"We started writing it at the end of 2017 so it's been a while, but I'm feeling pretty excited by it," he says.
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