We spent some time with our friends in A Lot Like Birds during their west coast headlining tour. Read on to find out why they chose Doghouse Records, what the new songs are like, and whether we’ll see a second Squash The Beef tour.
MEB: You’ve just finished your first headlining tour, despite only having a leaked demo out. What’s it like to tour with no official new material with your new vocalist Kurt Travis (ex-Dance Gavin Dance)?
Ben: It’s exciting actually. I think it’s really cool. It’s a little bit of a leap of faith, and confuses the shit out of people, who just kinda shake their head and kinda clap at the end of songs.
It’s kind of a unique experience. You’re with I The Mighty, who also only has one song out. Everyone’s coming to hear new stuff, which you don’t see real often.
Kurt: Yeah, we’re kinda switching it up you know? We’re paving the way for when we do have a record and when we do a full US tour. We’re trying to get the word out there that we’re playing and have new music. It’s ready to be played, so we we might as well go on tour.
Last time we talked to you guys, you were still deciding on what to do with the Plan B material. What’s the status on that? Are you playing any old songs live, or re-recording any for the new record?
Mikey: Nothing on the record; we were considering doing something, but it didn’t end up happening. We’re still gonna play a few songs live, and they’ve been revamped a bit to accommodate our drummer Joe and Kurt, of course.
Cory: We’re a different band entirely than we were when Plan B came out. It makes not having the new stuff out there really cool, because people are coming out to see us because of Plan B and then get a whole different side of things with the new songs.
Kurt: People are coming out to see us for a number of reasons, which is really cool. We’ve all been in old bands; some kids came out tonight because they were like “Dude, you guys used to be in Discovery Of A Life Long Error” (Cory and Ben’s old band). I used to be in an old band; we’ve all been in old bands. What we have isn’t necessarily hype, but an interest for people to come see because they like this or that what we did, and now they’re all coming together. They want to see the magic that happens.
You guys were one of those bands that a lot of people were curious to see where you would sign. People had some favorite scene label predictions, but you ended up with Doghouse Records, which was out of left field for a lot of people. Take us through that process and how you ended up there.
Ben: My favorite animals are dogs, so it was easy. Dogpound records wasn’t available, so Doghouse was the next best thing.
Joe: And we’re all homeless so we’re all sleeping in the doghouse.
Kurt: Basically, I did an interview in AP about what was going to happen next. I was pretty fortunate to get this oppurtunity to get the word out there and say what I was doing with A Lot Like Birds. David Conway had read that interview and gave us a contact. It was pretty crazy; I’ve never heard of any band getting signed without any music yet. They hadn’t even heard the one song that leaked.
Ben: Doghouse has been awesome. I think they were really drawn to our smashing good looks and excellent physique.
Joe: They were holding a mustache contest, and we won.
Kurt, you’ve worked with Kris Crummett before, and he’s producing the record. What’s the process like this time around working with a different band versus when you’ve worked with him in the past?
Kurt: The relationship that Kris and I have is very relaxed. This is the third time that I’ve recorded with him, so we know how we work together as far as production. I’ve been to a bunch of different studios, I’ve been to God City, Tiny Telephone, The Hangar in Sacramento. I really think that Kris has an amazing ear and is an amazing dude. I feel like he gets the best takes out of not just me, but everybody that he works with. It’s not like one of those Ross RObinson things where he has to pull it out of us; it’s more like he gives you the confidence to do it. And he’s really, really meticulous; he’ll have me do one thing about 50 times. He really just wants to get the best out of everything. This time around is probably the smoothest recording process that I’ve ever had, especially since I’m surrounded by such amazing musicians who not only play good but mesh well with everyone. That’s a really hard thing to find. In other bands I’ve felt that, but it’s completely different with this band. Me and Cory, it was like we’re one person; I would tell him shit to do, and he would tell me shit to do, and it fucking came out beautiful.
“Tantrum” leaked a couple months back online. How does that song relate to the other songs on the new record? Is it a single, or just an album track?
Joe: It’s actually kind of displaced. The song itself is a little bit of a departure compared to other songs on the record. It’s too long to be a single; it’s a pretty big movement. But it’s one we’re passionate about; it’s one of the first songs we wrote for this record.
Kurt: This band literally happened overnight. We were anticipating it to go fast, and then it went a million miles an hour faster. With that, I think we as musicians progressed really fast through that whole process. Like Joe said, “Tantrum” was one of the first we had written as a band for this record. If you listen to the last song we wrote, it’s like the transformation is crazy. The songs that we had written earlier as opposed to the songs we wrote later are all amazing, but you can definitely see a progression. It’s pretty exciting, because we’re definitely already evolving and we’re barely a band.
We talked about how the last tour was almost more of a “feeler” tour. Who are some bands you’d like to see yourselves tour with nationally once the record comes out?
Kurt: I love this question, because we have a lot. I want to tour with Closure In Moscow. They used to live in Portland for a long time, but they moved back to Australia, so I don’t know if that will happen. Ben’s buddies with…
Ben: Oh, Just Like Vinyl. We played a couple shows with them. They’re one of my favorite bands right now, just a bunch of awesome dudes with a great live show. Their CD didn’t get as great a response as I waFs hoping, but I love it. I’d love to tour with those guys.
Kurt: Love to support those dudes. I’ve known Thomas (Erak, ex-The Fall Of Troy) forever, and he’s stayed at my house in Sacramento when they’ve played shows and stuff.
Cory: We’re really happy to have played with I The Mighty.
Kurt: They already feel like family. We watched the whole set and it’s really good shit.
Joe: My Mind equals blown.
Kurt, you used to be in a band some people heard of, Dance Gavin Dance. Would you do another Squash The Beef Tour?
Kurt: Yeah. I mean, since we’re on the same management, it will probably happen. I’ve heard talk about it already around the office, kinda joking, but at the same time, the first Squash The Beef Tour was a joking thing that happened, so who knows. We’ll see.
What do you guys have planned in the near future?
Kurt: Trying to stay alive…
Ben: If you guys have any money you want to give us, we’re broke as hell. (Ed’s note: The band has launched a Kickstarter to fund the purchase of a new van. To donate and get great prizes, click here.)
Is there anything else you want to add?
We want to play house shows! Listen to I The Mighty! Give us your money! Buy our shirts! Go to the Kickstarter!