With all of the bands out there, sometimes you miss simple connections. Whilst doing research for this interview, only then did I realise that Tom, the band’s drummer, also played in local Leeds outfit Streetlights, who we recently highlighted in our guest blog on Leeds Playlist. Funny how that stuff works.
Whilst Streetlights had more of an organic indie rock sound, Tiny Birds reach into the bowels of classic folk, sounding both familiar and out there all at once. There’s nowt quite like them, which is quite a badge of honour these days.
Their latest single “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Your Anger” is out now.
1. Tell us about how you came together as a band. Had you been in any other bands?
We’ve all been in bands before, but mostly outside London. I used to live in Leeds, and I was in a couple of bands up there. It was really exciting to be part of that scene – the Dance To The Radio and Bad Sneakers labels were in their prime, and some brilliant bands were coming through at the time, like Sky Larkin, Wild Beasts, The Sunshine Underground, Just Handshakes, Grammatics… I was never as good as them though so it didn’t go anywhere.
Then I moved to London and I was briefly in an Americana band that I didn’t like much. One day I saw an ad about Tiny Birds online, probably during a brief break from looking at Lolcats. So many bands are formed online now, perhaps we should make up a more interesting story. Like we were all in prison together or something.
2. You just released a new single – please tell us a bit about the recording process. What’s next for the band?
We recorded this single, and our album which came out last year, in a basement studio in Bethnal Green. Steve Honest engineered it, he’s fascinating to work with because he has so much experience in the industry, working in all genres with all kinds of musicians. And he has an AVN award (this is like the Oscars of porn) for his music, not many people can say that. We’ve recorded in a few different ways: this new release was produced like a pop record, all done track-by-track, picking the sounds we wanted as we went along, but our previous single (The Photographs That You Took) was recorded totally live, all of us in the same room, like how everything was done in the sixties. After two years, we’re still trying to work out what works best for us.
Next up, we’re recording another single in the summer, and we’ll be playing at Going Up The Country festival in Cheshire in June. There is no better excuse for drinking in a field.
3. How does being in London effect your music and you as people? Do you have any favourite place to write or perform?
In some ways being in London is problematic – rehearsal space is much more expensive, everyone has to travel further to get to rehearsals and gigs, and there are always distractions. But it also means we get to see more live music, because there’s so much on, so we’re always learning from other bands and that keeps us on our toes. There are occasional references to London in our songs, but we don’t want the music to be totally London-centric, especially since none of us actually grew up here.
We’ve got a few favourite venues – The Windmill in Brixton is our favourite regular venue – but sometimes the real gems are in unexpected places. Just a few days ago we played at a pub called The Birkbeck in Leyton, which looks like a fairly sleepy East End boozer but turned out to be one of the best gigs we’ve ever done.
4. What are your favourite things about gigs? Any memorable experiences you’d like to share? Any bands that you would really fancy playing with?
There’s nothing better than a great gig, ones where we really love the other bands we’re playing with, and the crowd knows our songs, has a dance, laughs at our terrible banter. You can’t beat it. But, I hate to say it, the most memorable gigs are usually the bad ones. I remember at one of our gigs last year, we played to a crowd of four: the support act, the sound tech, and two guys tripping their tits off, who by the end of our set were down on the floor wrestling with each other. It was like an awkward dream where you’ve turned up to school wearing only your pants, and you just want the whole thing to be over as soon as possible.
5. We’re all big football fans here at Bubblegunked. Who do you guys support? Do you have any memorable experiences from seeing a match in person?
The official football teams of Tiny Birds are (I hope you’re taking notes): Manchester City, Arsenal, Norwich City, and Ipswich Town. The Norwich/Ipswich divide can get pretty ugly, so we try to make sure Dave (vocals, ukulele, canary) and Tim (bass, tractor) are always at least four feet away from each other onstage, so no East Anglian football violence breaks out.
I know this is a Leeds-based blog, but as an Arsenal fan, my best recent memory is seeing us knock LUFC out of the Cup this season. It was Thierry Henry’s first game on his loan from New York – he came on with ten minutes to go and scored a beautiful winner with almost his first touch. I’ve never lost my shit quite as spectacularly as I did seeing that goal. I’d totally lost my voice the next day and I had to tell my boss it was flu.
6. Under band interests on Facebook you list “tea, puns, and pedantry”. Give us a good pun about tea, but try not to be too pedantic.
I only know one pun about tea, but if there’s a better one out there I’d like to hear it:
Why do Marxists only drink herbal tea? Because proper tea is theft.