Mississippi has seen its share of musical adventures and with the release of their debut album Quest for the 100th Monkey, Paperclip Scientists are helping ensure no one mistakes it for a frozen-in-time landscape of Blues markers.
Centered around the songs of long-time song-writing partners, guitarist/lyricist, Vince Johnston, and bassist/guitarist/vocalist, Joey Plunkett, the album is brought to life by the buttery delivery of veteran vocalist/percussionist Adib Sabir and an eclectic cast of musicians.
Paperclip Scientists began as a studio project in late 2009, shortly after Johnston heard Sabir sing for the first time.
"I knew Adib as a percussionist," Johnston remembers. "But when he booked time at my studio to record a jazz project and I heard his voice, I was blown away. I told Joey that very night, 'we've got to put together an album for Adib to sing'."
Having spent the previous decade writing and playing for rock band Geronimo Rex, Johnston and Plunkett had been looking for an outlet for the more diverse material they had been accumulating and in Sabir's voice they had found just that. The pair quickly assembled a collection of demos, and pitched the idea to Sabir.
"I told them I didn't think I could beat how Joey sang the demos," Sabir laughs. "But I'd give it a shot."
In the studio Sabir proved more than capable, and, as the song list grew, Johnston began calling on the artistry of a number of musicians.
"The poor man's Steely Dan," Johnston chuckles. "I was tired of the restrictions of recording every song with the same band and was curious how different musicians would color the music."
With key contributions from, among others, ex-Geronimo Rex drummer Ryan Rogers (Jimbo Mathus, Chris Cagle) on fourteen tracks, bassist Bryan Beller (Mike Keneally, Aristocrats, Joe Satriani) on "Teleport" and "Silver Tooth", and guitarist Daniel Karlish, most notably, on "Loony Tune", the album extends beyond the band's Mississippi heritage of blues, rock, jazz, and country and reflects the influences of the Brazilian music and reggae that Vince and brother, percussionist, Ky Johnston were exposed to growing up in Northeastern Brazil.
"Being transplanted to another culture as kids really opened our eyes," says Ky Johnston. "It made us realize there are real and interesting things happening outside our bubble and gave us a reason to want to explore music and art from other parts of the world."
That sense of adventure permeates Paperclip Scientists' music and still inspires the concept for the live show. The core group, Sabir, Plunkett and the Johnston brothers, enjoys taking liberties with the material and inviting album contributors and other musicians to aide in the journey.
"I don't know what you'd call what we do, but it's jazz in the sense that we don't play the 'record', we play the 'song'," Sabir says.
It was the songs that caught the ear of Grammy-winning jazz vocalist and producer Cassandra Wilson and eventually led to a writing and recording collaboration between Wilson and Paperclip Scientists, resulting in her latest single "Airplane Wine." Both the single and Paperclip Scientists' Quest for the 100th Monkey were released September 2015 through Wilson's label, Ojah Media Group.