Yellowcard frontman Ryan Key said Paper Walls was inspired by the band's struggles over the previous year or so, including parting ways with lead guitarist Ben Harper, living in separate cities, and going through emergency throat surgery. The title track, he told Denver, Colorado, rock station KTCL, is about "just coming into adulthood for real, really passing that mid-20 mark. You kind of start to put up a lot of walls between each other, and it's a very metaphoric reference to the band. The idea behind the song and the record, a lot of it, is how important it was for us to get through those and burn them down.
The idea behind 'Paper Walls' is that because Yellowcard has been such a strong force for us in our lives for so long, the walls just couldn't be that thick. They're not so thick that we can't get through them and we can't move forward and we can't continue to love doing this with each other. It was never like on the verge of the breaking up or anything, but it lost something along the way. I think it happens to the best of us. And this record was such a positive experience and such a growing experience for us an entire group that it seemed fitting to title the record after the song."