Saturday, 21 May 2011
It is with a feverish loyalty to the process of creating music and the desire to learn from and surmount past triumphs that extraordinary musicians have been able to captivate their audiences by releasing one timeless collection of songs after another. Since the release of their debut album Bad Blood in 2009, Birthday Boys have continued to unveil an unyielding musical force that won’t keep them as ‘Ontario’s best kept secret’ for long. This quartet is not bound by a specific genre as they demonstrate their versatility by seamlessly weaving their rock ‘n’ roll background with influences ranging from the blues, soul, garage, country, and gospel music. Their shows are rather edgy and raw, charged with unabashed performances of anthems like their hit single, ‘Daughter’s Man’. During their 2010 cross-country tour to promote their latest EP, Tin Head, Birthday Boys embarked upon the challenge of recording 30 songs in 30 days. The band’s success in producing 30 thought-provoking and emotionally steeped tracks in only 30 days encapsulates their hunger for creative inspiration and their willingness to grow as artists. Special guests, The Arkells and The Stanfields, were also featured in a couple of these tracks. Vocalist and songwriter, Jordan Mack, had a quick chat with The Toronto Quarterly about the band’s beginnings and the fuel that sparks their creative willpower as travelling artists.
For more information, visit the Birthday Boys at their website, myspace,twitter, and Youtube pages.
the video for ‘Daughter’s Man’ off of their EP, Tin Head:
TTQ: Tell us a bit about how Birthday Boys came to life and how the name came to be.
MACK: Birthday Boys came to life as a group of close friends from a couple of different bands who wanted to create together. Not certain of the form it would take, the band was mashed together with originally six people and it was then left to sort itself out. The name comes from a major influence of ours: Nick Cave. He represents a creative free will that we admire and want to embody. His first two bands were The Boys Next Door and The Birthday Party, so we took from that.
TTQ: It takes years and a great amount of determination for many bands to conjure up 30 solid tracks, and you did this all in one month. What were some of the challenges you encountered in creating 30 songs in 30 days? How did this project test your artistic endurance?
MACK: We felt that songwriting was a strength in the band, especially having two lead singers/songwriters. It was a test of our skills as far as weighing time vs. quality. It forced us to focus by not wasting time on a part that we didn’t Love, but moving forward quickly and efficiently. It strengthened our abilities as far as lyric writing and producing music goes and to eventually have the two compliment each other.
TTQ: What inspired you throughout your tour, and how do you believe you have grown artistically from undergoing the 30 songs in 30 days project?
MACK: We were very inspired by landscape and our observation of people throughout the tour; reflecting on all of this with a basis on our lives and the world as we were taking it in. This was a massive growth for us as it allowed the band to take in and put out seamlessly without distraction. This type of focus can be a massive challenge for songwriters so strengthening it naturally strengthened our writing.
TTQ: You had also filmed a 10 part tour documentary for truthexplosion.com called, ‘Sweet Young Luck’. Why did you make these videos? What made you decide to not only expose your band’s processes of producing music in your 30 songs in 30 days video blog, but also bring your fans along with you on tour through these documentaries?
MACK: We made these videos (which can still be viewed at www.youtube.com/birthdayboys) to add an artistic side to the band. Every time we have the chance to leave our mundane jobs and hit the road we see it as a chance to create all the time and live a dream of ours. These videos are another form for us to show the creativity of Birthday Boys. That is why it was important for us to keep them artsy and interesting instead of your usual ‘Here's my band in another city doing the same thing as we were doing yesterday ‘ kind of videos.
TTQ: What comes first: the music or the lyrics? What is your writing process like?
MACK: We switch it up to keep the writing happening. Generally I start with the lyrics until writers block happens. Graeme also tends to focus on lyrical content first.
TTQ: Which artists have influenced your sound? Tell us a bit about your musical background.
MACK: We all come from a rock ‘n’ roll background, influenced by The Clash, Iggy and the Stooges, Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, Grunge ... The list goes on and on. Generally we are influenced performance wise by rock and creatively influenced by Gospel, soul, country, classical, rock …
TTQ: If you had the opportunity to collaborate with any musician, dead or alive, who would they be? What do you hope to extract from their genius?
MACK: Leonard Cohen, and I would just watch and listen.
TTQ: Do you have any last words for your fans, future followers, and all The Toronto Quarterly readers?
MACK: Create! Then, tell people about it. Listen to it when you’re told about it, and then tell someone else.