Birds Of Tokyo

By Ben Doy

Multi-ARIA award winning band Birds Of Tokyo released their fourth studio album in March titled 'March Fires'.  

The album became their first to hit the Number 1 position on the Australian Album Charts and also charted at #26 on the RIANZ Album Chart in New Zealand; becoming the band's first international album chart debut.  

We caught up with guitarist Adam Spark and found out what's new with the band. 

It's been three years since you released your last album.  What have you been up to during that time? 

We've been writing a lot, we sort of wrote for about 18 months.  We recorded the record for six months at the start of last year and then kind of killed the next six months doing nothing, just waiting for the record to come out (laughs).  But we're always writing. 

And you've had a bit of a change in the band with a new bassist. 

Yeah, Ian (Berney) was added us our new bass player.  And Glen (keyboardist Glenn Sarangapany) who has toured with us for quite a while, we made that kind of official as well.  When our old bass player left it was a good time to make the transition.  We thought "If we're going to do this we should do it all now". 

Where did you record March Fires? 

Mostly in Los Angeles, in a bunch of different studios there.  But some of it was done in Sydney. 

And was does the name March Fires mean? 

We talked a lot about the concept of when you destroy something, the act of that itself is the creation of something.  Like if you have a glass bowl and destroy it, being in pieces is kind of its own new piece... kind of just laying out the junk if that makes sense. 

And you wrote some of the album in France? 

Yeah.  The main two singles off the album 'Lanterns' and 'This fire' sort of had their crowning moments there.  It was really cool.  It seems like an extravagance to do that, but in all the times we've been doing this we're just very frightened and frugal dudes... we never lash out or do anything crazy.  So we just hit a point and thought "You know what, let's just get away for a while and go somewhere fun and completely removed".  And it was so worth it.

Which part of France were you in? 

We were in the south.  We got out of the airport in Nice and couldn't even fit everything in the car.  We had guitars hanging out... it was kind of like a classic National Lampoons kind of vibe.  We rolled up to the house and were just cracking up laughing, it was really cool. 

Would you say this is quite a different album to your previous releases?

Yeah, I think so.  Our approach to it, and what we hear in it and what we put into it, was markedly different.  It's had some mixed reactions from people who have followed the band for a while... some people really love it, some people really don't.  But we feel it's quite different.  You find yourself in that situation where you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't, and it's fascinating to watch peoples reactions to it.  It sounds cliché but all you can do is make a record that you really like.  

And this was your first Number 1 album in Australia? 

Yeah, that's cool.  Although I would have been happy if it never got to Number 1 because then you feel like you've always got somewhere to go (laughs). 

Will you be coming back for some NZ shows in the near future? 

We're hoping to get back later this year. If people will have us. 

I saw you guys play a few years ago at The Powerstation in Auckland, that was a really good show...

That's a really cool venue actually.  And it probably has one of the finest band rooms that I've ever been in.  They've got a good thing going on up there (laughs).  And it was a cool show.  We also played Big Day Out about a year before that, so we'd love to be involved with that again.  We had a real cool moment when we did it a couple of years ago, we were playing on a side stage in like the middle of the day and we walked out and there were heaps of people there.  It was really good. 

Have you guys still got various side projects going on too? 

Ian's (frontman Ian Kenny) band Karnivool is still going.  I don't know if Adam (drummer Adam Weston) is still continuing with his one... he was talking about trying to find a new drummer.  But the other three of us haven't really got anything else going.  I think Glenn and I will put in a bit of work in the US... we're always working on stuff, and it would be cool if we could do some film stuff or something, that would be really cool.  But a lot of stuff that I write and a couple of the other dudes write generally finds its way into the Birds. 

How's the music industry in Australia at the moment? 

It's much like anywhere I guess but per capita it's proportionally different I guess... bigger than NZ but smaller than America.  We're always talking about the culture of music and what it sort of means to people... and how important it is to their life.  There's a lot of competition these days for peoples attention to invest themselves in bands or songs so it has to be something significant or emotionally impactful.