Earlier this year I had the opportunity to listen to and review the latest album by Brighton, England‘s Birdeatsbaby. I was absolutely blown away what I was listening to – it reminded me of some sort of hybrid between Tori Amos and Rasputin – but with an edgier stance at times. I had the chance to have extensive email chats with lead singer, Mishkin when she let the bomb drop – the band would be in Seattle within the next few weeks, would I like to meet up with them? Uh…of course!
One of the things I do in my “serious working life” is host and attend business mixers in the cities of Tacoma, WA and Seattle, WA. The day I was to meet Mishkin & the rest of Birdeatsbaby I was manning a registration desk for an event in a converted bank vault in downtown Seattle. Pretty cool – except I really didn’t look all that cool. I showed up to meet the band in my business attire – dress pants with a polo shirt tucked in. In my defense, I was wearing my vintage Corcoran military boots underneath the entire outfit! I scanned the room and made my way over to the most punk looking folks in the room. “Hi, I’m Jason from Jason’s Jukebox”. It sounded silly coming out of my mouth, but they all immediately knew who I was. They were some of the kindest folks I’ve met on my strange musical journey, and here’s a bit of what we talked about:
Jason’s Jukebox – How has social media changed the way you market the band? Has it helped you gain traction in other countries?
Mishkin- We couldn’t do what we do without social networking, nor would we have people from places we have never visited listening to us and asking if we would play there. Twitter is invaluable for a band wanting to connect with others, Facebook and Tumblr give it a more personal edge, especially for the more……..eccentric members of our fan base.
JJ – Having driven cross-country before (from Philadelphia to Seattle), I can understand how grueling this (traveling cross country by auto) can be. Can you tell me about your fans in the US? What have you enjoyed the most about your latest visit to the US?
M – We enjoyed landing in Newark and it kept getting better and better… It was gruelling at some points that’s inevitable but the highs far surpassed anything we could describe as a low. What we didn’t expect was that at every show someone had come to see us specifically, we stayed at a fans house in Austin and she requested that we play a song from our first album that we haven’t played in a few years, little thing like that remind us why we’re doing what we do. The friendliness and hospitality of everyone we met couldn’t have been any better, we made a lot of friends whom, through social networking we will keep in touch with and we will hopefully see as many of them as we can next year.
JJ – What region / city in the US reminds you most of Brighton?
M – Anywhere where there were trees and it rained, the drive from Boston to New York could have been anywhere in Britain. The landscape is pretty much the same and the people from the Northeast seem slightly more anglicised than they do further south.
JJ – Can you give me a brief history of the band…?
M – BirdEatsBaby were inadvertently formed because of Mish writing music for a degree show project which required other musicians to flesh out the songs, after meeting Phillipa Bloomfield at an audition for a punk band Mish asked her to play drums for the project and asked Keely, whom she studied with, to play violin. The band was together for a year before Garry joined on bass. Six years later, with two cellists and two drummers been and gone and several tours behind us we have just returned from a tour of the U.S. from New York to San Francisco.
JJ – Can you tell me about the songwriting process within Birdeatsbaby? Is it a group effort or do members present song ideas to the rest of the band?
M – Mish writes the basis of the songs, the melody, chords and lyrics and we all get together to practice them to come up with our own parts and help each other out with ideas. The songs rarely stay the same from when we first start playing them.
JJ – How do the songs on the new record differ from the older material?
M – We’d like to think better musicianship and more depth to the songs, there was more collaboration with these songs than the first album and we were given good advice from the producer of Feast of Hammers, Jason Rubal, about arrangements (which we benefitted from). The next album will have a different sound too, we’ll always try to evolve and create a better album than the last.
JJ – What do you think of the current state of the music industry? Do you think downloading has had any impact on you (as a band on the cusp of bigger things)?
M – One impact it’s had is that we wont be indulging our hedonistic tendencies on our private jet provided by our label, because of torrent sites, bands like us wont make enough money from album sales alone. From the glass half full point of view, our music is reaching a wider audience because of file sharing which will, hopefully, bring more people to our live shows. Record Labels are less willing to invest in new bands because of the lack of financial return so bands have to find a way of making the albums and promoting the tours themselves, which is perfectly plausible if the band has the time and are willing to put the work into it.
JJ – And finally…one last question. Coffee or tea?
M – The chronic lack of sleep which is an inevitable part of touring dictates coffee, then more coffee with some more coffee.
Birdeatsbaby are currently on tour in mainland Europe. Their latest record, Feast of Hammers was released earlier this year and features production work by legendary producer, Jason Rubal. My review of the record can be found here. The band has a heavy social media presence and can be found on Twitter as @birdeatsbaby and on Tumblr here - http://birdeatsbaby.tumblr.com/
Buy this record, download it (legally), see them on tour – hell, sell your soul to get this amazing music. You won’t regret it. I’m looking forward to the next time Mishkin and rest of the band are in Seattle so I can show them some secret coffee spots that are among the best in the world!
copyright Mandy McGee Photography