Unlike many other genres and music communities, the indie/alt culture appreciates new and rising artists that create diversity and new insights within the genre.
We constantly feature notable indie and alternative artists on the verge of success. Meet this week’s featured artist in an exclusive interview, the New York indie- rockers Active Bird Community:
What are your fondest musical memories?
As an artist, some of my fondest musical memories are playing live and recording. I remember our first big show at the Knitting Factory; I think it was junior or senior year of high school. It seemed our whole school was there and it felt like for the first time people were really listening and enjoying. My fondest recording memory is when we spent a week straight, about 15 hour days, working on our EP Drive Like Your Kids Live Here. Our good friend Brendan Picone of Cosmonaut engineered and produced it. I remember one night in particular when we stayed up all night drinking beer and recording Pop Rocks vocal tracks. It felt good having zero boundaries when trying to create something. There wasn’t a formula or some regimented philosophy to it. We just fucked around until we made something we thought was awesome.
Lately what musical periods or styles do you find yourself most drawn to as a listener?
I’ve definitely become hooked on a lot of current Indie Rock bands. One of my favorite new bands is from Montclair, NJ. They’re called Forth Wanderers. I am a sucker for female vocalists, probably because I’m jealous of their talent, but Forth Wanderers really brings something special to music nowadays. I’ve also always been in love with New Wave bands like New Order and The Church. So, bands that are reminiscent of that genre today always catch my eye, and I love it when they can pull it off. I think Broncho would be a good example of that.
How did you decide to collaborate to form Active Bird Community? Can you tell us about each of your musical backgrounds before starting this project? How did you come up with your name and aesthetic?
We started the band when we were 12. We kind of all just learned how to play music together and we definitely learned a lot from each other. Our songwriting developed from just shooting ideas off each other and sharing demos as we got older. The name came out of thin air. We had a bunch of worse names before we were ABC..."Digital Dog Party". Come on. That's genius.
I’m a firm believer that the cities that artists are based in helps craft their sound. How would you describe the New York music scene? How has it inspired you into crafting your sound?
There's a lot of really good music in New York, in the city and upstate too. The music scene in New York is extremely eclectic. I think that has had the biggest effect on our sound. Having all those influences so readily accessible is really exciting and inspiring. On the flip side, there are a million bands all trying to make good music so you need to work hard to distinguish yourself, which I think has helped develop our sound.
What is your creative process like? How do you approach the writing process?
I have no idea really. It’s definitely more about what’s going on in my life at the time. When things are going well or just going, I think I write less. But when everything is shit and I feel alone, or bothered and I can’t figure it out, I sit down with my acoustic and Garageband and have a little therapy session. Trying to write can be really difficult. When I’m like “I haven’t written in a while, I should work on something”, it’s hell. It pretty much never works out and I don’t write for another 3 months. But when I get compelled to do something, pushed into a corner where that’s the only thing I can do, I think something realer comes out.
This is a huge debate going on right now and my personal opinion is pretty useless because of my ignorance. But I think social media, for better or worse, is very important. I still get sick to my stomach trying to justify to myself why 10,000 likes on Facebook somehow makes a band worth listening to or taken seriously, but in an age where everyone plays guitar and has a band, social media can be really helpful in getting your stuff out there and helping you distinguish yourself. I’d be lying if I said I don’t appreciate and rely on music sharing and streaming for my own listening. I think it sucks that bands can’t be adequately compensated for their recorded material anymore, but as an indie artist who’s probably never going to get compensated anyway, music streaming and sharing is enormously helpful to spread the word about mine and my friend’s projects.
What are you currently working on? Any new projects?
Active Bird Community just finished recording our new record I’ve Been Going Swimming with Chris Daly at Salvation Recording Co. up in New Paltz. We’re working on getting tapes made so we can distribute physical copies at shows, etc. Other than that I’ve been playing shows with ABC and drumming for Ghost King, ABC’s drummer’s solo project. As far as my own personal projects, we’re starting to write a new album so I’ve been listening to a lot of my old recordings from high school and thinking about reworking some of those or picking up where I left off with solo stuff. There’s something creepy and amazing about what you’re able to tap into, consciously or unconsciously, as a stoned teenager.
What can fans expect in your latest release I've Been Going Swimming? What’s the story behind the album title and artwork? What are your fondest memories in recording this album?
They can expect the same four dudes doing the only thing they know how to do. Wow that was cheesy, but it's kind of true. I'm pretty sure this the only thing we truly enjoy doing, and when our fans enjoy it with us, it means a lot. Expect a bit more variety on the record but also that familiar driving sound that I think our fans have come to love. The story behind I've Been Going Swimming is that I was going swimming in a bunch of swimming holes in New Paltz, NY when I wrote that song. But I think the title can have a lot of different meanings. My fondest memories about recording this record was seeing it come together, that moment when you take a step back and feel like "Shit. This is actually a thing now." Chris Daly is an incredible dude to work with and makes the process really enjoyable.
What is your dream collaboration and why?
My dream collaboration would be to work with Doug Martsch just because he’s always been a huge inspiration to me. I probably should have put Perfect From Now On in those top 3 albums… Anyway, he’s an incredible songwriter and I feel like I still have no idea how to write a song so maybe he could help me out.
Finally, a few questions we ask all of artists: which songs are you currently obsessed with? What new acts do you recommend to our listeners? What bands do you believe are your best kept secret in the indie community?
Currently obsessed with PWR BTTM's song "I Wanna Boi" off their new record. Definitely recommend Primate House, we grew up with them and their sound has really become amazing. I don't know why they're not more well known but their style and attitude is something the NY scene should definitely be aware of.
Thanks once again to the guys of Active Bird Community for talking with us. Be sure to keep up to date with the group via the social links below. For now, enjoy the indulgent exploratory melancholia of the cerebral-rock track Brookfield off of I've Been Going Swimming.