Bird Concerns first captivated us at a local show at The Satellite last year. The band, composed of bassist Marcus, guitarists Jake and Travis, and drummer Cooper, drew us in with their full rock sound, dancey rhythms and alternating vocalists. We caught up with them on their current projects + inspirations.
Asymmetric Magazine: Congrats on your recent tour! Can you tell us a bit about what you guys are currently working on?
Bird Concerns: Thanks! The tour was a blast. Once we got back, we were back in the studio. Now it’s the new year, and we’re releasing two new singles and a music video we shot before we left. Also we’re starting preproduction for a full length record we’ve been writing.
AM: How would you describe your sound?
BC: On the most basic level, we’re a surf rock band. Two electric guitars, rich vocal harmonies, and beach-dancing grooves. Below the surface we all have a lot of subtle influences. We all have experience with lots of different music from jazz to punk to classical. So inadvertently, those influences sneak there way into our songs and arrangements. Something like if the Beach Boys listened to more Deerhoof and Sonic Youth.
AM: What themes do you pursue through your music?
BC: Our last EP was a collection of love songs from different angles, from different perspectives in the journey. This next release is a little more introspective. Looking for one’s place in the world while fighting inner demons and trying to be a good person. But there’s always room for more love.
AM: We love how you guys alternate vocalists. Can you tell us a bit about that process?
BC: We’re all song writers and musicians with individual voices, but we’re also a very collaborative band. Usually whoever is singing lead on the song wrote the meat of the song. Travis and Marcus tend to write the most songs for the band–but not all of them. And we always arrange as a team, so the final product usually ends up being a bit different than the original song that got brought in. Also, we just like singing together. Its very fun to sing with your friends.
AM: What's your biggest inspiration?
Marcus: I started playing music when I was a child. My dad is a guitar player and he taught my siblings and I from an early age. We had a family band for a longtime. These days my writing comes out of my experiences and is filtered through the lens of my own world view or philosophy. Sometimes the songs are fantasy, but usually it comes from something that really happened. Sonically, it’s whatever I’m feeling that week.
Jake: Seeing live music is really what inspires me to go through the process of writing and performing. Some of my most productive times are after seeing a particularly moving set of music, whether it's a friend's at a house show or a big act at the Wiltern. There is something about hearing a new perspective or approach to music that has the power to stop people in their tracks and leave them energized. I think that's pretty rad.
Cooper: I get most of my inspiration by listening to my friends’ music. We’re lucky to know a lot of incredible LA musicians doing cool stuff, and it all informs how I play. Apart from that, I get inspired by life happening all around me. Being alive is a trip.
Travis: I am most inspired by the challenge to create something meaningful with two basic ingredients: sound and silence. As a kid, music was not really a part of my life. I was always fascinated with the concept of learning, writing and performing music but thought one simply had to be a genius in order to even participate. It is the overwhelming mysticism, expression, and power of a truly great performance which I continue to chase. Now I know that all it takes is the right song with the right mental preparation.
AM: What role does Los Angeles play in your work?
BC: Los Angeles is an incredible place to play music. All of us are full time working musicians; balancing freelance work, teaching music, and playing in other bands. Being surrounded by such an amazing community of musicians and artists is a dream.
AM: How did you land on the name Bird Concerns?
BC: We were in college on a road trip through Big Sur. We started feeling a little stir crazy and silly from many hours in the car, so we stopped at this meadow for a sunset hike. During our hike all the birds were singing around us very loudly. We started joking about what they could be making so much noise over. What were they trying to tell each other? What were their concerns? You know? I guess the phrase just made us smile. Bird Concerns–like what birds are worried about.
AM: What other musicians are currently inspiring you?
Marcus: My favorite new stuff this year was Deerhoof, Solange, Big Thief, and Andy Shauf. Also we had to learn a lot of MoTown and 70’s soul for a gig this year, and I got really really into it. Those grooves are timeless.
Jake: Big Thief and Deerhoof are for sure two of my favorite currently touring bands. In LA, there are too many amazing acts of all genres to name. Some I try to see whenever I can include Jeff Parker, Fell Runner, Avi Buffalo, Chris Speed, Kidi Band, Knower, and Max Ox.
Cooper: I’m really fighting the urge to list off all my friends’ bands! There’s always gonna be some old classics that are stuck with me, but currently, powerdove, Dirty Projectors, Broadcast... Marcus already said some of my big ones, like Deerhoof and Big Thief, but I’m listening to them all the time, too. I’m always late with these things and just now discovering Mac Demarco—he’s pretty rad.
Travis: The ones who got to me first are Robert Smith for his love songs, Paul Simon for his story telling, and Arthur Rubinstein who’s sensibility at the piano makes me want to do nothing more than play Chopin for the rest of my life.
AM: Where is one place that you feel completely in touch with your creative self/music?
Marcus: I like to play guitar in my backyard and watch the bees buzz around my garden.
Jake: I always feel very creative on the road. The back and forth between being inspired at shows and bored in the car tends to lead to a lot of new ideas and new writing.
Cooper: In the woods. I grew up in the woods, and I still get all my best ideas out in nature. Nothing beats that–especially where there’s running water and tall trees.
Travis: I like to be as far removed from distractions and excesses as possible when hashing out ideas or practicing. My ideal setting is a basic room with a piano and guitar, a few literary and musical books to sift through, and somewhere close by to move my legs and be with mother nature.
AM: What's one piece of advice that you live by?
Marcus: Surround yourself with people that you want to learn from.
Jake: Pay attention!
Cooper: Don’t stress, think twice, act once.
Travis: Nothing is permanent, so start each day brand new.
AM: What can we expect to hear from you next?
BC: We’ve got a new single that just came out (February 1st) along with a sci-fi/thriller music video (with a release party at the Hi Hat on Feb. 1st). After that, we’ll be touring more and working on a full length record.
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