For those who aren't familiar, tell us…who are Bird Names?
The Bird Names is an experimental pop group that lives in Chicago. We've been around in guises sloppy or regrettable for a bit, and made a long album of songs from a big pile that's added to regularly. The album is named Fantic Yard: fantic as in aphanasis, a psychoanalytic term referring to the public revelation of one's most intimate secret and the unbearable shame that goes along with it, so dealing in a way with fantasy. The music is structured like honky-tonk country with lots of repeating and we all really enjoy making and playing it. We barely rock at all though we fairly often roll and try to muster whatever shambly charm we might as compensation for our limitations.
What degree of investment or concern does this group, this Bird Names warrant? Would you like listening to them? Not that much. Your lips might get caught into a grin at some novelty, maybe you'd furrow your brow or raise something sour as though compelled, but probably you'd wander to the bar area at the show or carelessly put back on the new [Stephen] Malkmus album. A friend said to me once, 'I like your band okay but i cannot understand why you'd want to make music like that.' The recordings are a sight low-fi which in our drunker moments we think of as low truth. Low truth: who would hear low truth? Cool dads and weirdos and narconauts maybe. We don't have Mr. Holland's 40 years, you know?
How and when did the band form?
Two years back and we've fallen in and out of members to our current 4.5 and a half dozen mediocre names because music's the only modern art most people give a damn about. Otherwise we'd be pamphleteers or dancers or something.
Your lyrics tend to have a bit of a childlike quality to them, yet at the same time your music can be quite loud and brash…where do you draw your musical inspiration from?
We put on the stereo to romance and groove to Fela Kuti, Captain Beefhart, Patti Paige, Roy Orbison, Hawkwind, the Boswell Sisters, and a billion more. The right good music will make you feel inspired? Right, and a ludic attitude that leads to the soulful pleasures of free creative industry. Honest unaffected pursuit of cooperative play done rightly makes for most of whatever merit the group has. We pluck our dispositions more than instruments and at least ably battle back silence.
So yes: the ethos of play and laughter, old music, and the world's poisons, which are too generic to cart much tragic weight.
On a similar tip, I've seen you perform live a couple times where it almost seemed like one pair of earplugs might not be adequate enough hearing protection…yet I also saw you perform once where you did a completely acoustic set that sounded equally as amazing. Which version of Bird Names do you prefer and which direction do you see the band going more towards in the future?
Playing electric, the Bird Names have been and always will be an irresponsible organization: incoherent, abrasive, young adult, cursed with a finger painter's eye for precision. We've been lately on a long hair turn, like bearded-era beach boys grotesqued and more puerile, playing unmicrophoned acoustic mellowly, with a good space of recorder. Nothing too loud to blanket over the recorder. The latter set-up is more aurally pleasing: folks can say, oh i get it...a pop band. Turning up the commune vibe lessens the brusqueness, but too the catching sting of our voice. We're charting an infusion of half-baked politics to remedy this, with sights to be the maxim gorky of radical centrism: so fond are we of this political attitude, so violently must we prod and suffocate it.
Your band is a bit larger than your average 3 or 4 piece garage rockers, has it ever been difficult keeping everyone together and on the same page?
In terms of keeping it together musically: accuracy over precision, you know. Playing a loft in Bridgeport isn't illuminating the book of Kells: we relish and cultivate our limitations as musicians and remain fairly open to playing poorly for whatever reason. Interpersonally: we drink from like attitudinal waters and hold a non-egoistic understanding of the project. We've lost and gained a few special members, like most bands, because playing experimental pop won't pay for your low rent life style or even often get you laid.
What's in store in the near future for Bird Names?
We're playing a handful of dates in Chicago [5/2 at Happy Dog, 5/13 at South Union Arts w/ Faun Fables, 6/2 at the Shape Shop(2255 S. Michigan) w/ 2% Majesty] before a June journey to Dixie and the East Coast. Probably at one of these shows a Bird Name will banter on too long of his/her 'disagreement with the organization of our society.' Probably passion in some quarters of the band for Paul Simon's Graceland will remain high. Probably the Bird Names will continue lightly discussing a cover of 'bolero' but never get it together. We may throw out another album before the summer's up, too.
Where can people find and/or buy your music?
A man could hop to Reckless Records or a handful of other independent stores in Chicago that carry Fantic Yard. Predictably, we've got a smattering of tunes and other informative baloney over on myspace: www.myspace.com/birdnames.