Beth from the amazing band Bowerbirds was nice enough to answer some of our questions.
WLFY: Who came up with the name Bowerbirds?
B: I had the idea for the name after reading about the actual birds called bowerbirds, in a children's encyclopedia, and thinking they were the coolest birds I had never heard of, and I didn't understand why I had never heard about them, but had been taught a bunch of uninteresting and useless information in school. Why don't teachers all want to tell their students about bowerbirds?
Anyway, it was partly to spread the word about bowerbirds, just part of the genius of nature and evolution. And partly to sort of take them as our totem animals in what we were trying to do. They also reminded me of Phil.
WLFY: I love both Hymns for a Dark Horse and the Danger at Sea EP. Did you guys approach Hymns in a different way than Danger?
B: Thank you. Yes, by the time we recorded Hymns, about 9 months after Danger, we were taking ourselves more seriously as a band I guess, and we had a lot more songs, and we were better at performing the older ones from Danger, so the recording process was maybe more exciting the second time, and more careful. The first time, with the ep, we just recorded and mastered it in like 24 hours, because our third show ever was going to be in front of 700 people, opening for the Rosebuds, and Ivan (from the Rosebuds) thought it would be a good idea if we had something to sell at the show. It was a good idea, because we sold out of all the ones we had made. So, by the time we recorded Hymns, we had played a lot more shows and thought we should take a little more time recording. But we still did almost all the songs in one take, live. Sometimes we went back and added a part, or more background vocals, just because they were hard to pick up live, especially mine, since they were usually drowned out live by the accordion, because I was recording the accordion with mics, instead of the pickup I use on stage.
WLFY: If you had to sum up the band in a haiku…what would you put?
we look young until
you get us up close and it's
the same with our songs
WLFY: Hope you guys are enjoying Europe. Do you have any good stories from touring overseas?
B: We are enjoying it. Our best stories are too personal probably, but I will tell you that we learned how to say "That's what she said," in German, and it has really come in handy. We've been in a lot of situation where it fits in nicely. There have been a lot of situations where we have been able to slip it in. Das hat sie auch gesaght.
WLFY: What are some of the tunes, movies, gadgets that have saved you with all this traveling?
B: Fleet Foxes' "The Protector." Friska Viljor's "Arpeggio." Thai food. Facebook. Rock climbing harness. U-shaped neck pillow. Skype. Munchen. Frites. Stroopwafels. Yahtzees (the drink). Our tour manager Etjen. Separate hotel rooms.
WLFY: What's the best thing about touring and playing live?
B: 1. Being in the moment on stage. 2. Europe.
WLFY: How did you guys come up with the "In Our Talons" video? It's beautiful and fits the song perfectly. The second part wasn't a question…but, how did it come about?
B: We actually had nothing to do with it. It was the brainchild of director Alan Poon and his team of genius Canadians. They just contacted us and asked if they could make us a video for the song, and their ideas sounded really creative, and they were really good at what they did, so we just let them do whatever they wanted. We are very glad we did this, because anything we would have said would have probably just messed it up and stifled their creativity. It took them months to do, and hours of painstaking work. Everything you see is handmade. It's kind of out of control how lucky we are with that video.
WLFY: People seem to hate to call contemporary folk just folk…they have to put it into categories like Freak Folk, Naturalismo, or Nu Folk. How would you label your own band and what are your thoughts on all these categories within a category.
B: I think it's kind of impossible to label most music, and I think our music is folk, but it's also experimental in a way, and it's also influenced by all sorts of music -- folk music from around the world, jazz, Americana, indie rock, hip hop, electronic music --whether that is evident or not. I don't really care how it is labeled. We don't label ourselves, really. We just say we are acoustic, rhythmic music.
WLFY: What's the best part about music? (Wow…loaded question right?)
B: That no one can understand or explain why it's so important to us as humans.
WLFY: If music instruments had stock value, I would say the accordion has raised about 500 points in the last two years with Beirut, Tap Tap, you guys, etc. Why the sudden surge of interest in this once mocked instrument.
B: Who mocked the accordion? Maybe it was those same hipsters who are now obsessively learning the accordion because they think it's cool now that it's in bands that are getting some attention. I decided to play it because it feels so good to play - you feel it all through your ribcage, and the sound is so resonant and similar to a voice.
Maybe people are playing it because it adds a sound to the music that has been absent from a lot of indie rock for a while. I think people are bored with guitar-bass-drums-keys and just want to explore other sounds. And it's easy to learn if you can already play piano.
WLFY: You're going to be playing right down the street on Nov 28th (The Echo in Los Angeles)…the band is going to stop by the house for pre-show drinks right?
B: Only if they are Yahtzees and if they come with sushi.