Singer JT Daly, a 1999 graduate of Wellington High School, led his band Paper Route to its first national TV appearance Feb. 2 on “Late Night with Seth Meyers.”
The performance came just over a decade after the group’s inception in Nashville, Tenn., and as it promotes its third studio album “Real Emotion” and the single “Balconies” on a nationwide radio tour.
“We found out about the TV appearance around Christmas,” said Daly, 36. “This tour is kind of a cake walk, to be honest, because it’s mostly radio-based. A huge part of that is just getting the single to radio stations, putting your face in front of them, and physically thanking them for playing your music.”
Paper Route’s first major release, “Absence,” came in 2009 followed by 2010’s “The Peace of Wild Things.” Its music has also been featured in episodes of “One Tree Hill” and “The Vampire Diaries.” In 2008, the song “Last Time” was chosen to be the theme of Nike’s Human Race, which drew more than 140,000 runners to 10K events all over the world.
Daly’s parents, Tom and Connie, still live in Wellington and helped provide JT with artistic inspiration early in life through music, painting, and words of encouragement.
“They never treated what I wanted to do as weird or unattainable,” he said. “Work ethic was burned into my brain and DNA. I’ve always approached any situation thinking I can do whatever I want. I’m proud that’s my mentality. Everyone at one point feels like they have something to do or say. I just decided one day to outwork everyone and I feel like my family taught me that chess move.”
His uncle, Mike Daly, played guitar in Gibson/Miller Band, which was named the Academy of Country Music’s best new group in 1993. JT’s younger twin brothers, Jordan and Seth, live in Los Angeles and work as animators but have also landed acting and modeling jobs, including an appearance on the sitcom “Scrubs.”
After high school, Daly left Wellington to attend Greenville College in Illinois but dropped out during his sophomore year after landing a record deal with another band.
He moved to Nashville in 2002 after touring in New York and Los Angeles.
“Los Angeles seemed so fake and like a zoo for humans,” he said. “Nashville just kind of made sense. I started painting and doing art exhibits there, which led to me meeting a lot of other bands.”
After meeting band members Chad Howat and Nick Aranda, Daly said Paper Route “just sort of happened.”
“Chad was making tracks and in-between my painting I would stop by and sing on them,” said Daly. “That was when Myspace was big, which is hilarious to look back on now. We put stuff up on Myspace and began to get positive feedback.”
World-renowned bands such as Radiohead and One Republic started to mention Paper Route on their own pages, Daly said.
“That was quite the juxtaposition,” he said. “You have one of the biggest pop bands in the world and one of our favorite bands of all time in Radiohead, these artistic titans recognizing us. It was a complete honor.”
Record companies began calling soon thereafter, but the band was apprehensive.
“We got a lot of attention but we just weren’t really interested,” said Daly. “We had kind of done the scene and it’s a beast to tour and be gone all the time, to play this game. You can get jaded pretty fast. We were content just making music for ourselves. We had no real aspirations of it paying the bills or anything.”
Management representatives from Las Vegas started trying to contact the band, who were also rebuffed, until Daly did some research and found out the same group represented bands with large followings like The Killers and Imagine Dragons.
“There are two brothers,” said Daly. “One is our lawyer and the other is our manager so it’s a true family team. We decided to give them a try. It was a matter of getting on stage and playing music that people related to. Once you see that happen, you kind of catch the bug again.”
Through all the struggles, Daly said he’d have it no other way.
“Everyone is scrambling in the arts,” he said. “I feel like if you’re not scrambling, you’ve lost your inspiration. The currency that I’m concerned with is inspiration. That’s where I place my value, whether someone has something to say.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.