They came out saying ‘mums of Australia are going to hate it,’ and whilst the verdict is still out on that one, the general consensus is that this album is pretty fucking awesome.
The record in question is Brace, the fifth studio album from five piece alt rock outfit, Birds of Tokyo, and five albums deep, it’s the wildest and darkest one yet.
“The bigger picture is that before we started writing or recording this record, Brace, we knew we wanted to make a livelier record that suited the stage a bit more” says drummer Adam Weston.
After 18 months of writing, the ten tracks of the album present a narrative of dark and heavy grunge, deeply rooted in the thematics of formidable forces and dystopian sci-fi.
“Brace has certainly been an opportunity to write an energetic record the feels fresh for us,” says Weston.
“It was all very intentional and throughout the whole writing process we’d always have a massive TV screen in the corner of the studio on mute, just playing old killer 80′s films like Blade Runner and Sci-Fi dystopian… So it’s not like it’s anything new across the many, many other artists who’ve referenced these types of works before but it made so much sense to us.”
It’s not hard to see these sorts of thematics, with songs like ‘Harlequins’, opening with warped synths and futuristic embellishments, immediately conjuring up the visual of an urban western; a portentous character stalking down a dark alley with a long leather duster.
“We’ve still created this really thematic sort of production, we’ve created a world where these songs have sci-fi flourishes and synth… So it’s still really new territory for us and quite dangerous as well.”
The concern stemmed from the bands uncertainty of fan and critic reactions to an album that is a complete 180 degrees from their previous catalogue of music, but as Weston explains, “you really have no choice but as a band, to focus on writing and getting better at your craft and just dipping your feet in the water and seeing how people are going to react to it. But so far so good,” he laughs.
The album has received rave reviews, and with three-time Grammy producer David Bottrill behind the project, it was bound to be a winning combination.
Despite the Perth natives trying to get stories about Tool out of the producer (albeit unsuccessfully), Bottrill was perfect for the working process. With the band already having a solid direction to take the material, “Bottrill was more amazing in the sense that he kind of kept everyone from losing their shit,” jokes Weston.
“He’s just got this zen like quality and that’s what you really want in a producer. Someone to kind of steer the ship and helm the operation and oversee things.”
Now, taking to regional venues across Australia, the Harlequins tour is the opportunity for the band to “take the record to the streets and get in front of as many heads as possible.” And with Brace being the material that Weston describes as best suiting “a pub, club, smaller, sweaty environment” because of its hard hitting material, regional fans are bound to get a massive performance.
As Weston notes, “playing these kinds of shows is always like the icing on the cake for the entire process. Through all the blood, sweat and tears, and yelling and headaches, to be able to take them to other people is the ultimate pay-off.”
When and Where: The Wool Exchange, Geelong – March 19.
Tickets available at www.birdsoftokyo.com
Written by Caitlin Haddad
Photo by Mclean Stephenson