The Paper Jets aren’t your typical New Jersey rock band. Eschewing the epic bombast and hard-edged emo-punk that often defines the state, The Paper Jets deliver their own brand of pop-based alt-rock that folds in elements of Big Star, Weezer, The Beach Boys, Ben Folds, and Spoon. The result is an eclectic, melody-focused sound with the power to move, both physically and emotionally.
Based in Princeton, NJ, and consisting of Brian Erickson (lead vocals/guitar), Mike Virok (lead guitar), Scott Austin Miller (bass/backing vocals), and Frank Lettieri Jr. (drums/vocals), The Paper Jets have developed a strong following in the Asbury Park and New Brunswick, NJ, scene thanks to dynamic live performances at venues such as House of Independents, The Stone Pony, The Court Tavern, The Wonder Bar, Asbury Park Yacht Club, The Saint, and more. In 2015 and 2016, they earned two straight Asbury Music Awards nominations for Best Alternative Rock Band.
Their debut full-length album, 2014’s “We Are All Strange Friends,” further established a solid foothold in Philadelphia, with radio airplay for single “Cooking Up an Accident” on alternative rock station Radio 104.5, two on-air performances on the station’s “Live at 5” program, and concert performances at the Welcome America Festival, the Trocadero Theatre, World Cafe Live, Xfinity Live, and more. The band has also played at Piano’s and The Bitter End in New York City, Club Passim in Boston, The Abbey Pub in Chicago, and many more.
The Paper Jets began to take shape at Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ, where Brian and Frank met while working at campus radio station The Bronc 107.7. In need of a senior thesis project, the two joined forces to write and record a full album using only “consumer” equipment, leading to the formation of The Invisible Solid in 2005. The group toured throughout New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania before disbanding.
Brian and Frank continued to work together in a variety of configurations before uniting with Bill Lambusta and Scottie Maloney to form The Paper Jets in 2008. They soon recorded their debut mini-LP, “Face Forward,” and self-released it in June 2009. Cut in a single weekend, the project featured songwriting contributions from all four members, and the ensuing tour took them further beyond their hometown to perform at the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC, and WE Fest in Wilmington, NC.
Following Lambusta’s departure in 2011, the band dove in to begin work on their debut full-length album, “We Are All Strange Friends.” After recording guitar parts at his home in Hopewell, NJ, Brian brought in long-time friend Tim Ryan to play keyboards. Recording then moved to MOSHI Productions in Bordentown, NJ, where Frank recorded drums while Hurricane Irene raged outside, eventually flooding the studio. Tragically, Tim was killed in an automobile accident shortly after finishing his keyboard parts. The completed record is dedicated to his memory.
“We Are All Strange Friends” was officially released on January 28th, 2014, to critical acclaim from outlets such as The Aquarian Weekly, which called it “a terrifically entertaining record,” and Jersey Beat, which included it on their Top NJ Releases of the year. The band supported the record with a summer tour of the South that hit venues in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina. They also released an official music video for “Set of Rules,” which was directed by Frank. The clip, influenced strongly by cult-favorite film “Josie and the Pussycats,” features the return of Invisible Solid bass player Drew Novelli as a fictional TV pitchman.
Shortly after their Summer 2014 tour, The Paper Jets reconvened to begin work on the “Almost Nine” EP. Consisting of two previously unrecorded live-concert staples – “Elizabeth Distressed” and “Of an Extrovert” – along with the freshly written “Brand New Shoes” and Tim Ryan cover “Jo Don’t Let Me” (which features Tim’s harmonies from an old demo of the song), the record received praise from critics, with Infectious Magazine premiering its first single, “Elizabeth Distressed,” and The Sunday Experience calling the song “ridiculously infectious.” Jersey Beat went a step further, asking “are The Paper Jets the best rock band to come out of Princeton since Saves the Day? On the strength of this sophomore EP, they’re certainly heading in that direction.”
After the EP’s release on May 26, 2015, the band welcomed Mike Virok as their permanent lead guitarist. Mike, who owns guitar repair/custom shop Bordentown Guitar Rescue, had previously served as the band’s guitar tech since 2012 and brought a new dimension to their music with his extensive collection of effects pedals, affectionately known as “NASA.”
After touring the Northeast in support of the EP, the band replaced Scottie with new bassist Scott Austin Miller, who previously played with Mike in the band Evangelina and the Boys. The Paper Jets are currently working on a new full-length album, tentatively titled “Everyday Forever.”