Matt Tennessen – bass
Scott Sherpe – vocals
Nolan Treolo – guitar
Nick Zinkgraf – guitar
Sam Vinz – drums
God was just a few hours off in trying to smite Paris Texas with a 15-ton backhoe. The band had left Madison's famed Smart Studios just hours before the vehicle smashed through a wall and into the very room where they'd been set up. Just think: had the Almighty's sources been better, He could've finished the job, and Like You Like An Arsonist might never have been.
The boys— Matt Tennessen on bass, Sam Vinz beating drums, Nick Zinkgraf and Nolan Treolo on guitars, and Scott Sherpe singing—took it in stride, though: It was just the next in a line of near-misses, almost-hits, and vehicles behaving badly that have tried—and even succeeded—to kill Paris Texas over the years. And, as we all know, what doesn't kill them makes them fall down and wish that they were dead.
Born in Wisconsin in 1997 and killed for the first time shortly thereafter, PTX is like a flailing, agitated, emo-punk zombie: Each time you think it's finally dead, it comes back stronger. The original five-piece recorded songs before ever playing live, and when they finally got in front of an audience—Valentine's Day, 1998—lovers did not hold hands and weep, at least not with joy. But there was something there, some kind of germ that, if fostered in the right environment, might grow.
Tension mounted, of course—it informed every note—and the original guitarist left the band shortly after the release of PTX's vibrant debut full-length, So, You Think It's Hot Here? Ready to throw in the towel, they stayed together so as not to stick Polyvinyl Records with a bandless album: Nolan Treolo came in on second guitar, and things seemed pretty damn OK for a while. The dynamism of the band's live show came together in the studio for the Brazilliant EP, and they booked their biggest tour yet.
And then God came in again: Gremlins plagued the van. Every. Single. Day. Shows were missed—lots of shows. A black cloud fell over the proceedings that rivaled even the earlier black clouds. Post-tour, the band took what they described as a “sabbatical,” which in actuality is something academics do when they wanna go learn shit. With hot songs already written and demoed, PTX broke up again. Sherpe moved to Arizona, which made band practice a bitch, anyway: “Hey, wanna meet in Denver and jam?”
But God, as you'll remember from the first paragraph, still wanted kill them, so He started placing copies of those demos in what would turn out to be the right hands. A blistering song called “Hip Replacement” would not be denied, even if there weren't really a band around to play it.
Once they figured out the phone number, labels came calling, and thanks to a hometown friend now living in NYC, New Line Records was one of ‘em. Wet ink became dry, and the band assembled in Madison to start recording Like You Like An Arsonist , the album that almost never was.
In addition to near-death by backhoe, Paris Texas suffered miserable living conditions in Madison, sharing a crappy apartment with no real furniture and no clean water. A general feeling of tension and malaise made for a taut few weeks: When there's nowhere to go but the studio and nothing to feel but apprehension, great things can happen. Crossing that high wire led to something bold and dramatic, an air that couldn't have been captured any other way.
So it's Like You Like An Arsonist, a name that reflects the insanity of wrestling melodic punk nuggets into shape while simultaneously not killing each other. It takes a lot of pressure to get that far, but the eventual explosion can be beautiful.
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