Birds take flight in new direction

By Paula Yeoman

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Album No4 is a huge change for Aussie indie band, hears Paula Yeoman

Birds Of Tokyo. Photo / Kane Hibberd
Birds Of Tokyo. Photo / Kane Hibberd

Birds of Tokyo say March Fires has alienated some of their fans, but the album has been a risk worth taking. It took six years of hard graft for Birds of Tokyo to rise through the ranks from practical unknowns to Australia's indie darlings with three chart-topping albums under their belt. And yet it's taken a mere 18 months to wipe the slate clean and start over with a new sound on album No4.

"This record is a very different front for the band," lead singer Ian Kenny says of the aptly titled March Fires, which refers to the natural cycle of regeneration in the Northern Hemisphere when forests burn off in spring.

"We kind of redress who we are and it does feel new and fresh. We have a completely new conversation with our crowd now."

A large part of that process was working out whether Birds of Tokyo wanted to remain together as a band. "We're 30-year-old dudes. We've been doing this for a while and we really thoroughly discussed why we were writing music. It was a conversation the whole way through - why are we writing record No4? And the more you ask yourself, the more you find," he says.

For Kenny and co there was much on the line. "We're very much a DIY band.

We're business-savvy guys, everything is done in-house and we pay for everything, from our own touring to our own video clips. So it's a very deliberate decision when it comes to being a band. If you want something out of it, then you have got to put in the work."

Musically, the band's regrowth reveals itself in a more expansive and dramatic sound, with uplifting and soaring choruses, designed to fill stadiums. It's stark in contrast to the their earlier alt-rock leanings.

And although it's a move that has polarised fans, Kenny says there are no regrets.

"Some people really adore it and some people are just questioning it, which is something we're getting really excited about to be honest. I love the idea of having a bit of risk. We've got some new fans coming through already and the record has only been out a few weeks."

Birds of Tokyo's new album, March Fires, is out now.

- Herald on Sunday

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