Music Club

Meet local rock band Paper Tigers to perform at Boston Calling

"[A]ll a local band can really do is work hard to be better musicians."

Join Music Club host Adam 12 and local band Paper Tigers on Wed., April 27 at 7 p.m.

Four strangers were brought together by a “musicians wanted” ad in 2019, and in three short (okay, it felt long) years, Paper Tigers has joined the ranks among the city’s must-watch Boston bands.

The band calls Allston home by way of Washington, D.C. (vocalist Michael Medlock), Iceland (guitarist Bjarki Guðmundsson), Stoneham (bassist Matthew Hughes), and eastern Texas (drummer Ben “Cutty” Cuthbert). They have built a solid foundation by playing their forceful brand of alt-rock described as “powerful and anthemic” that blends soaring vocals, dynamic guitars, and energetic drums.

Paper Tigers is driven by the simple philosophy that good bands have to do two things: write great songs and put on amazing live shows. The band pushed through the pandemic, releasing their debut EP, The Outer Limits, in June 2020, followed by their January 2021 EP, Mononoke, and most recent EP — released in October 2021 — A Schism Cataclysm featuring local hits, “Ursa Minor” and “Goldmine.” Their next EP, I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me This Sooner, comes out May 20, with lead single, “A Portrait of a Scene”, premiering April 29. 


Paper Tigers are among 12 New England artists who will play Boston Calling‘s local stage over Memorial Day weekend. 

We caught up with the band ahead their April 27 guest appearance with the Music Club and discussed how they came together as a band, rehearsing, and being invited to play Boston Calling this year.

What brought everyone to Boston?

Michael moved to Allston from Washington D.C. in 2018, after spending his whole life there, and decided he needed a change of scenery. At the time, he had family living in Newton so he opted for the Boston area. Bjarki’s wife got an amazing job opportunity that she couldn’t pass on, so in 2017 they left Iceland for Brighton. To say he’s never looked back would be untruthful, as being an expatriate has its own set of challenges. Cutty left the Air Force in 2018, got a job at GE Aviation, and moved to Boston to be with his wife. She was living in Allston and finishing her doctorate at Boston University.  Matt’s origins are tougher to pin down. Half his family lives on the West Coast and the other half on the East Coast. He’s kind of a Seattleite-Bostonian hybrid. Since 2010, he’s lived in Stoneham, and refers to this time of his life as his “Boston Phase” — kind of like Picasso’s Blue Period. 

Most of you are from somewhere else. Tell me one thing about your hometown.

Michael Medlock (vocalist): If you look at an aerial view of D.C., you’ll see a pentagram. Coincidence? You decide. 


Bjarki Guðmundsson (guitarist): It has a disease named after it: Akureyri disease, aka benign myalgic encephalomyelitis. 

Ben “Cutty” Cuthbert (drummer): It’s the hometown of country music superstar Miranda Lambert. 

Matt Hughes (bassist): I once found an abandoned horse and buggy carriage in the deep woods of my small town, it looked like something left behind from the Oregon Trail days.  

Best movie soundtrack?

This question nearly broke up the band. After hours of conversation, the only thing we could agree on is to not provide an answer. Also Saturday Night Fever.   

Who in the band is most likely to lock the keys and all the gear in the van?

Unequivocally, our bassist, Matt. Fortunately, he’s done this so many times, he’s quite skilled at entry with a coat hanger — definitely useful during the zombie apocalypse.   

What’s on the walls of your rehearsal space?

Mostly noise suppression blankets, haha. In the few open areas, we have the Boston Calling admat poster, a small flier from a Digi-Fest we participated in last year, and a poster-sized printout of one of our favorite flyers advertising an O’Brien’s show with us, Papercage, Little Fuss, and Luxury Deathtrap. There’s also a digital clock next to the door that Cutty has owned for over 20 years. Who keeps a clock for 20 years?    

What’s the story behind the band being invited to play Boston Calling?

We were probably more surprised than anyone about being invited to play. We don’t know all the ins and outs about how bands get selected, but from what we understand, our last EP, A Schism Cataclysm, was presented by an outside party to someone on the Boston Calling talent buying committee. We can only assume that they looked at our body of work and thought that we would be a good fit.


In many ways, we’re living every musician’s dream to be “discovered.” While we might not know exactly how it happened, every day we’re humbled by this opportunity. There are so many amazing local bands out there right now — many of which could take our place and do great. With Boston Calling being a destination-type festival, we feel a kind of responsibility to represent ourselves and our peers grinding it out in the Boston scene every week. At the end of the day, all a local band can really do is work hard to be better musicians, focus on writing great songs, network within your scene, and produce content you’re proud of. The rest is just luck and good timing — none of it is lost on us. 

Anngelle Wood is a Boston Radio DJ known for her time at local institutions WFNX, WBCN, and WZLX. She is host of the long-running show, Boston Emissions, and produces the annual Rock & Roll Rumble music festival and showcase. You can reach Anngelle at [email protected].

Join our virtual Music Club event

Join Music Club host Adam 12 in discussion with Boston-based band Paper Tigers who will also be performing a short set for the Music Club’s virtual series on April 27 at 7 p.m. Register here.