Local indie band Owl Paws signs record label deal, hopes to expand audience

Owl Paws band
Tim Vickers, stand-up bass player for the band Owl Paws, plays at Bottom of the Hill. Owl Paws recently signed on with an independent record label. March 1, 2012. Photo by Nelson Estrada.

Fresh out of the recording studio, the local indie band Owl Paws is setting itself up for a summer breakthrough.

The five musicians, who bonded over a love of the local indie scene, an appreciation for inside jokes and the original 151 Pokemon, are beginning to make tour plans as they wrap up work on their new EP.

While they’ve been happy to take local stages from McKenna Theater to Bottom of the Hill, Owl Paws is now seeking a wider audience.

“We’re at this point where we’re trying to rise out of the local scene and be recognized, but we’re not at the point where we’re like a super well-known band,” said Owl Paws singer and guitarist Derek Schultz.

“You’re trying to be more professional than just like a local band, but you can’t fill the Great American Music Hall.”

Even so, the band is trying to build a lineup solid enough to fill a venue that large for its EP release show during the summer. For now, the band is working on putting the finishing touches on the upcoming release.

“It’s been mostly mixed. There will probably be a couple of tweaks to the mix, and then we send it in for mastering,” said guitarist Colin Hayes.

One recent evening Schultz, Hayes, bassist Tim Vickers and drummer Lucas Siobal sat in Schultz’s bedroom listening to their newly-recorded tracks, discussing how much more work would go into their unnamed EP while waiting for singer and keyboardist Brooke Dabalos to arrive so they could begin their weekly practice.

“I feel like if it weren’t for this band, I wouldn’t see most of these guys on a regular basis,” said Hayes. “We all have so much stuff going on constantly.”

Somewhere between shifts at the Whole Foods Market on Haight Street, gigs with other bands and Schultz’s broadcast and electronic communication arts classes at SF State, Owl Paws came together with Urban Scandal Records, who announced the band’s signing Feb. 13.

“I had the idea of starting a record label for a while before it actually came to form, but in the earliest stages of things I knew I wanted to release music from (Owl Paws),” said Urban Scandal creator Stephen Beebout, who met Schultz three years ago at a record store in San Francisco. “(They’re) extremely driven to continue to write better music, and to play that music to more and more new people. That is exactly what we look for in bands.”

Urban Scandal re-released Owl Paws’ first EP March 5, and will be responsible for releasing the new EP this summer in vinyl and digital format.

The new recordings will be a departure from the first in that it is truly a full-band effort.

Owl Paws has been built on a singer-songwriter basis; but with the additional influences from each of the members as they joined the band, Hayes settled on a loose description of “harmony-laden, progressive singer-songwriter.”

“I kind of like to think that it’s music that people our age and younger can listen to and kind of latch on to, but also, I can play this for my mom and dad,” said Siobal.

With their appeal to a variety of audiences, Owl Paws will be looking to reach new listeners this summer with a tour on the West Coast.

Owl Paws will be back headlining in San Francisco April 4 at the Elbo Room. The first EP is available for free at bandcamp.com.

Owl Paws band
The band Owl Paws poses after a show at Bottom of the Hill. They recently signed on with an independent record label. March.1, 2012. Photo by Nelson Estrada.
Owl Paws band
The band Owl Paws plays at Bottom of the Hill. They recently signed on with an independent record label. March.1, 2012. Photo by Nelson Estrada