Ian Kenny, frontman Birds of Tokyo at Open Arms Festival (Coffs Harbour) in November 2010.
Ian Kenny, frontman Birds of Tokyo at Open Arms Festival (Coffs Harbour) in November 2010. Rob Wright/Coffs Coast Advocate

Stones inspire Birds of Tokyo

EXILE On Main Street, the Rolling Stones’ masterpiece double album, inspired Perth rock band Birds of Tokyo to travel to the south of France during an Australian winter.

"I was listening to Exile on Main Street and it was recorded in a small area outside Nice and I thought what about us recording an album there," said Birds of Tokyo drummer Adam Weston.

Some of this recorded material – still only with working titles – planned for release in January 2012 will be road-tested during the Birds of Tokyo Closer tour.

Adam Weston spoke to The Guide ahead of tour rehearsals for their national tour to include Sawtell RSL show on Monday, September 12.

"Recording our current album in the south-west of France ticked all the boxes on cold weather, as the weather was good and we’ve never been there before," Weston said.

Birds of Tokyo have a fairly open-ended approach to recording, which could easily blow out.

"We just record and try to capture everything and every idea until we get to the point that we’ve got a huge body of work and then we pick it apart," he said.

"We’re trying to let the content of the song be dictated by the feel of a song."

"This time, we’ve been collating ideas over about 12 months and we’ve been forced to set ourselves a deadline to record by January."

"Adam Spark is an absolute genius in terms of Protool (a computer recording program), but sometimes he agonises over the songs until you think he’ll drive himself crazy.

Using software tools to record everything that inspires them over a long period is a lot more structured than the band’s early approach to recording.

"In the early days of the band, we’d go into the studio, turn our amps up to 11 and just see what happened."

Critical reviews of their last recorded effort; their third, self-titled album released last year were mostly favourable.

"At the peak of their powers... massive melodies and powerful musicianship," was how it was reviewed by Triple J Radio.

"Emotions are magnified, details erased... dominant, sculpted sound and cathartic introspection," wrote Craig Mathieson in The Age.

"Less rock, more heart... emphasis on lyrical content, the rawness of their words works to create greater depth within their music," wrote Celline Narinli for The AU Review.

Not everyone was a fan – ‘flaccid and lifeless... boringly unoriginal compositions... generic sounding vocals,’ was the view of Matthew Woodward for News Hit.

Sales followed, as the album was certified gold soon after debuting in first position on the Australian Independent charts and reaching second in the ARIA albums chart.

Current working titles of new songs likely to heard on this tour are This Fire, Boss – named for the Bruce Springsteen flavour and Tundra.

"For us, the working titles end up being thrown around for so long that when it comes around to naming them, its difficult."

After ‘killer live performances’ at the Big Day Out tour and ‘impressively ferocious musicianship’ on the Groovin the Moo festival tour, the Birds are keen to play old venues for their own fans.

"In shorter festival sets, every playlist sounds like a ‘greatest hits’. We’re hoping to do an extensive set and do stuff we haven’t done for a long time."

"Lots of places on the tour we last played at when we first released Universes back in 2008. When its your own show, you’re closer to each other and responding to the crowd.

Touring doesn’t mean lots of lovely tourist experiences, as they play almost every night at a new location.

"We don’t get to cruise around town – we check into accommodation, do soundchecks, then everyone has a couple of beers and perks up and then we have a couple of wild hours."

Supporting Birds of Tokyo on tour will be The Medics. "We always love choosing our support band and The Medics was a band I’ve had my eye on for a while."

Birds of Tokyo play Monday September 12 at Sawtell RSL Club. Tickets available from www.oztix.com.au, 1300 762 545, www.sawtellrsl.com.au and Park Beach Music.

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