Paper Airplane was bred from the anger lead vocalist Ryan Horns said he felt following the 2016 election.
Horns, now an Ohio State alumnus and communications specialist at the Ohio State Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said he had taken a break from playing his own music when a surge of inspiration — three albums’ worth — stemmed from his frustration with post-election America.
Horns said he worked as a breaking news journalist for the Marysville Journal-Tribune for more than a decade, which inspired his songwriting. He longed for a platform to once again share his thoughts after feeling angry about the current political climate.
“I just stopped playing music for a long time, like eight years. I guess it was sort of like I’d had enough,” Horns said. “And then after the election, and after just being angry about the political situation, and wanting to have a voice again — I stopped being a journalist, and I wanted to have a voice again, so I was like, ‘Hey Antonio … let’s start playing music again. Got a lot to say, let’s try to do this again.’”
Consisting of co-founder and drummer Antonio Garza, bassist John Fitzgerald, keyboardist Rob Cave, guitarist Keith Jenkins and Horns, Paper Airplane creates melodic rock sounds resulting from Horns’ now powerful need to write music, he said.
“I just have this overcoming need to write songs all the time. I don’t know where it comes from, but I just constantly write songs all the time,” Horns said. “But because they come out so fast, I like the idea of having a band to say, ‘OK, this part sucks. Why don’t you want to do this?’”
Though Paper Airplane has had a rotation of members, Horns said he thinks the current group is ideal in terms of where he hopes to take the band’s sound. The recent addition of Cave to the band is especially exciting because Horns said he has always preferred the piano to be the voice of a song.
“Antonio and I are the original members. Everybody else has improved the band. Rob is an amazing piano player, and it’s working out very well. He’s only done, like, a month of practices,” Horns said. “Having Rob in the band, specifically, was like my dream because I’ve always wanted to do these intricate things with the music, and he’s really the only one that I know of that just happened to come into the fold that can do those things.”
Cave brings a different musical background to the group, Horns said.
“I grew up as a classical pianist and so pretty much, I draw from that mainly. I always played classical, and I only listened to rock music, but they never met until about 10 years ago,” Cave said. “I had some hand troubles, and I stopped performing classical music, but started playing in rock bands, and it was a lot of fun.”
Horns said he looks forward to accomplishing more complex sounds in the future, but for now is focusing on the recent release of Paper Airplane’s latest album, “Othello.” He said the new music didn’t require much thought lyrically because he immediately had something to say to the audience.
The songs grapple with how Americans can overcome, accept and move on from anger felt after the election of President Donald Trump, and hopefully help others to deal with disappointment, Horns said.
This album differs from the band’s past music because it showcases the growth of Horns’ vocals, which he said have changed since he overcame his nerves about singing and underwent throat surgery in 2013.
“The thing that was always preventing me from singing the way I like to sing was my nervousness. So now that I feel like I’ve overcome that, I can scream now. I can hit high notes,” Horn said. “I had to have throat surgery and relearn the way I sing because of that. Now I can scream in strange ways that I never could scream before and really emote better than I used to to be able to emote before.”
Horns said that over the years, the anxiety he felt on stage dwindled. Today, live performances are more about the camaraderie of the band and working toward a common goal, he said.
“It’s really just about the joy of songwriting. I love to play music, I love rock ’n’ roll and the way it makes me feel and the influence it can have on people,” Horn said. “Music in itself, it’s just a joy. It’s like a gift on humankind and that’s really it. It’s just enjoying that.”
Paper Airplane will play Dec. 6 at Ace of Cups at 2619 N. High St. Doors open at 7 p.m., and admission costs $5.