Birds of Tokyo already have a stellar reputation for their alternative rock here in Australia and overseas, but the five-piece from Perth are about to start a new flight path.
They have recently released their singles collection, Playlist, which they are promoting around the country at the moment, but this will mark the end of an era for the band.
Ian Kenny, Adam Spark, Adam Weston, Glenn Sarangapany and Ian Berney make up the Birds, who formed in 2004 and shot to success in 2008 when their album Universes went to number three on the ARIA charts.
Drummer Adam Weston says Playlist is a good way for people to catch up with what the band have been up to over the past decade before they take a different flight path.
“With a band like Birds, a lot of people know the name, but they may not necessarily know that we are the same band who have this song or that song. We seem to have grown to a fairly decent size of awareness, but without really having people realise that it’s one and all the same thing,” he says.
“So I guess it’s an attempt for us, before we start attempting a very different kind of music, just to capitalize on the last decade and who we are and what we’ve done all in the one place. So if you need it all, and you need a good picture, there it all is.”
Selecting the songs was not an agonising process; Adam says it was fairly natural, and once the album is out, they can continue working on their new stuff.
“It was pretty easy,” he says. “A lot of it was based on the way we play festival sets. There are clearly obvious ones in there and it’s ones that have connected and clearly had a moment with people at concerts or on radio.”
“We’re in the studio writing and working on our ‘proper’ album, so we’ve been working on two things at once. So when this one is out and doing its thing, it means we can go back to being creative instead of spending time in offices, driven around in cars and sitting in waiting rooms,” he says.
Playlist has all the big anthems like ‘Plans’, ‘Broken Bones’, ‘Wild at Heart’, ‘This Fire’, ‘Lanterns’, ‘Anchor’ and their latest single ‘I’d Go With You Anywhere’.
The beauty of the cinematography in ‘I’d Go With You Anywhere’ is inspired by the title, Adam says.
But where was it filmed?
“Mostly Mars. We sent Kenny over to Mars for a while. We had a huge budget. We get millions for this stuff,” he laughs.
Yeah, but seriously?
“It started in Sydney and slowly moved out to country NSW, to a lake. They shot it all raw, which was the easy part. Then there was weeks and weeks of doing all that colour stuff because we wanted it to look ‘other worldy’. I had this big idea for all the colours to be that red against blue,” he says.
“I’ve always been fascinated with red on blue. It just really destroys your eyes. I love the effect it has on you. It looks very unnatural. We wanted the concept to be the notion of ‘anywhere’ to be the key word of the song; not ‘you’ nor ‘I’ or anything – just ‘anywhere’ being somewhere fantasy leaning. It can be anywhere. It doesn’t have to be a city or place or anything.”
To match the energy of new single, ‘I’d Go Anywhere With You’, Birds of Tokyo wanted Playlist to be remastered to improve the listening experience.
“With the very early material, we were way less experienced in what we were doing, so they don’t sound as good. So we sent them off and had them cleaned up quite a bit, and remastered, which sort of brought us more in line with the some of the more mastered stuff which is loud and hot. Some of the older stuff is just a bit more tepid but now they’ve had the big, cool energy brought out in them,” Adam says.
Birds of Tokyo are touring the singles collection around the country at the moment, including two shows in Adelaide.
They’ll be playing Handpicked Festival at Lake Breeze on 14th November, and on the World Famous Rooftop (George Street, UniSA, City West Campus) on 3rd December from 6pm – 8pm.
Being wine connoisseurs, they are quite looking forward to heading to our famous region.
“We’re massive wine fans. I plan to taste the local fare while we’re there! We were making the joke about going to the Barossa or something but it’s a time thing. We don’t really have the time to get out there. A couple of us are really big red wine guys so we’re really looking forward to being there,” he says.
With a range of great shows coming up, Adam talks about their invitation to perform at Melbourne and Sydney Zoos, which is preparing them for the new style they’re planning to unveil.
“We were invited for some big, beautiful outdoor shows and so it’s a good opportunity for us to do a different type of show for that, for which we’re looking at designing a more movie-esque, orchestral, droney, synthy, acoustic set,” he says.
“We won’t go in and play our normal stuff for that one. We did a strings tour a number of years ago and we’ve always wanted to do it again. It feels like a waste to do that just for two shows, so we’re using this as a warm up to the grander idea of doing that further down the track next year. It’s going to be a really different experience.”
So what’s the new music like?
“It’s a new beast entirely,” Adam says. “I sometimes have an internal struggle on that one and ask if we should call it Birds of Tokyo at all. But leaving the first period behind and marking it off with this record [Playlist] and then moving into a much more cinematic world and having tracks like these be more a soundtrack to a new show and concert experience; we want it to be led that way, instead of ‘here’s a bunch of songs for internet and radio’ and then playing shows around that. It’s building songs and tracks for an experience. We love intense, dark shows. Not dark, like evil, but beautiful, intense and moody. It’s definitely a big, Roman, blade runner, heavy gun of dystopian stuff which is really beautiful. It’s very different to our usual stuff.
“We’re getting through all the demos and that stuff, so we’ll probably start attacking that December/January. Once we start recording, that’s usually the quickest part for us. It’s the writing and piecing it all together and making sense of it that’s the long period; it’s taken us a few years to get this material in shape.”
We’re looking forward to hearing the new beast, but until then, check out our competition page for your chance to win the new album, Playlist.
By Libby Parker