Paperboy: In conversation with Bristol Uni’s up and coming student band

The band dominated their latest gig with zinging lyrics and an irrestible stage presence

Bristol, as with any other university city, is full to the brim with aspiring student bands. While many are simply a source of fun and eventually tail off, some have the potential to one day go beyond student circles, and the latter is certainly true for Bristol Uni’s Paperboy.

Lead singer Dermot and his brother Niall, the drummer, make up half the band, with lead guitarist Jack and bass guitarist Matt completing the quartet. Catching up with them over a cigarette and a pint, I managed to chat with them about all things music and what their last few years performing have been like.

Whilst the band started when the boys were in school, performing covers and playing gigs in pubs across Wiltshire, once they joined Bristol Uni, they ballooned in popularity by promoting their talents during freshers.

Dermot says that the people he met from first year “kept coming and got a little bit bigger” after each gig they performed, resulting in several sold-out shows at popular student venues, such as The Crofters Rights and The Exchange.

Managing uni work and music is far from easy, but Dermot says that most of his time is spent “playing guitar and writing music,” openly admitting that his “uni work is kind of secondary” to that.

Paperboy’s ethos is to focus more on loving the stage and performing rather than worrying about the wider music scene that Bristol is so famous for because, as claimed by Dermot, “music is universal, it’s not a competition”.

The band jokes about how sometimes they’re paid just a “six pack of beer” for their gigs, but they don’t care, as they simply enjoy performing together and growing as they progress with their degrees.

Paperboy played their penultimate gig of 2023 at The Exchange on the 29th November. Whilst originally in the bottom room of the venue, the band were bumped up to the larger room at the last minute thanks to their soaring popularity.

An electric atmosphere consumed the gig thanks to the band’s catchy lyrics and infectious banter, with Dermot continuously interacting with the ravenous crowd.

The audience erupted as they opened with their first single, “For a Loop”, a fan-favourite (I am the fan) that Dermot explains is about how “coming out of secondary school, you start to realise who your real friends are”.

They quickly moved on to reveal some of their unreleased songs, which, despite being unknown, everyone was still belting out as if it’s their go-to tune when they’re rushing to Senate House mid-deadline season.

Octopus, the band’s most recent single, showcases the captivating vocals of Dermot accompanied by his brother’s pulsing drumming, and this kept the whole room jumping and dancing along until pints were inevitably spilt everywhere.

The group closed out their show with Through the Net, an alt-rock belter which had everyone screaming along with the band one last time as if it were a Thursday night in Thekla.

If you’re a fellow second year looking for a gig instead of going out on the Triangle for the umpteenth time, head over to Strange Brew on the 9th February for Paperboy’s next gig.

All photos via @paperboyband

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