With six perfectly crafted studio albums, and a worthy title as legends of the Australian music scene, Birds Of Tokyo have worked tirelessly to construct their sound and image, immortalising their signature songwriting, unbeaten emotional connection, and unique take on performance. Creating an unbreakable bond with Australian and worldwide audiences alike, the band is back with their latest captivating single, ‘Superglue’. This time, joined by Bonnie Fraser of Stand Atlantic, Birds Of Tokyo have flown into a new realm, not merely crafting an anthem for the band’s new era, but exploring the multifaceted skill sets yet to be uncovered. It’s safe to say that ‘Superglue’ has stuck with us!
We had the privilege of chatting to the Westy (Adam Weston) from band about the single, shows, and solidifying their space in the scene!
‘Superglue’ follows up the incredible ‘Human Design’ album. Is there a different kind of pressure that lingers on a release like this, and how does the single stand out as a new era release?
That’s a great question as I think a lot of people aren’t aware that, for us anyway, by the time new music is actually released, the band have long invested their blood, sweat and tears into the creative process for quite some time before releasing, so it’s often a huge sigh of relief to see a new single shared with the public. I think we’re long past caring how new material will be received, considering we unintentionally tend to dynamically leap between albums e.g ‘March Fires’ to ‘Brace’ to ‘Human Design’. However, for the first time, ‘Superglue’ feels like a hyper version of where ‘Human Design’ left off, both sonically and emotionally.
A lot of your tracks are built upon an incredible foundation of emotive storytelling- and of course, ‘Superglue’ is no exception! After so many years, has opening up/extreme vulnerability become second nature, or is it still a daunting task to not only discuss these themes and emotions in a band setting, but to present them to the wider audience and beyond?
I’m super proud of everyone in the band at how they’ve learned to open up over the years. You would assume the group would be used to spending a lot of time together but it’s a continual learning process of navigating through the ups and downs and the patience and selflessness required to keep any great relationship going; working or otherwise. At times things have been very volatile, but we’ve got better at understanding what’s going on behind the scenes. While it’s certainly not limited to Kenny, I think he’s done an amazing job at using his personal experiences as a conduit for the band’s output recently. Believe me, it would be much easier to write about something else, but then there wouldn’t be the growth, connection or personal reward at the end of the process.
Your latest release ‘Superglue’ includes a little help from Stand Atlantic’s Bonnie Fraser! How did you get in contact / what drew you to her voice?
I’m pretty sure our resident gun engineer/producer/guitarist/motivator Adam Spark got the ball rolling here. It wasn’t like it was an extensive conversation for the band to have, because if you’re familiar with Stand Atlantic you’ll know Bonnie has the feels in spades. We knew she would be able to carry the weight of the song and convey what we were looking for her to personally inject.
So too, the feature of a guest is quite a rare sight for the band. How did this alter your creative process, did you find you had to adapt your writing styles or usual processes?
We shelve so many songs and at times end up re-writing and fully re-recording tracks that still don’t have that vibe or moment we’re looking for, and ‘Superglue’ was no exception. It can be a double-edged sword sometimes as it’s possible for us to overcook a great song for good. The answer certainly isn’t to collaborate with someone when you’re stuck, but our major breakthrough came once we had a narrative for the song, which then made magical sense to reach out to Bonnie to put her own imprint on the song, which in turn was the final piece of the puzzle.
You were announced as the AFL halftime act (congratulations)! What does this gig mean to you, especially from the perspective of much of Australia being in a music drought?
Being footy fans, we’re pumped for the occasion, but the bigger picture is that we all know we have a wealth of talent on our own doorstep that should be utilised at any possible opportunity. This couldn’t be more evident this year when an organisation is limited to booking mostly local artists. Stella Donnelly, Baker Boy, John Butler, Gina Williams…I mean holy shit, Tom Jones is fun and all, but I really hope these home-grown offers continue to exist each year, as they contribute to the lifeblood of supporting our industry which is currently on its knees and hemorrhaging.
Your performance will be accompanied by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra. An orchestra feature is also quite a prominent feature on your tours! How did this arrangement first come about, and what do you feel it adds to the Birds Of Tokyo experience? How do orchestral and normal shows compare?
Ever since we toured with a string quartet after having just two albums under our belt, we always wanted to collaborate with the might of a full orchestra one day, but the timing had to be right. The combination of ‘Human Design’ featuring more string arrangements and simply having more material in our catalogue to re-arrange, meant that it was a very fulfilling artistic endeavour to pursue. Dynamically and sonically, the difference between a club rock show and an orchestral theatre or outdoors show are worlds apart. The band were completely out of their comfort zone as you were very much playing ball on the symphony’s court. For the listener, I would like to think it was an experience to engage with the band and the music in a format which was and will be seldom seen.
‘Superglue’ is yet another fantastic piece of music from the band. After six studio albums, what’s the biggest thing you’ve learned, and more so, what do you feel Birds of Tokyo still has to offer the nation and worldwide fans alike?
It’s funny as we often say that we feel like we’re just starting to hone our craft now, like everything up to this point has been a warm-up for what we’re about to do next. As long as we retain that feeling there’s always going to be the enthusiasm to want to create together and share new music. No one’s forcing us to do this caper but it’s the support from everyone else that allows us to keep giving it a good crack.
Using one sentence, how would you describe what’s next for Birds of Tokyo?
The dust has been blown off the old JCM900, the synths have been packed away and there’s the crunchy bones of about half a record written…or could that get shelved too?!