BIRDS OF TOKYO Getting loud on Rotto

Coopers’ Live, Loud and Local gig series returns to Western Australia for the second time this year with the high-flying Birds of Tokyo set to headline Hotel Rottnest on Rottnest Island on Sunday, April 11. It will be one of only a handful of live shows the five-piece have played since releasing their sixth album Human Design last April, a record they’re still eager to bring to the world after COVID derailed their tour plans last year. BRAYDEN EDWARDS caught up with bassist Ian Berney to find out that despite enjoying a break from the often taxing lifestyle of world tours, they’re as excited as ever to get back on stage again and grateful it can happen here in their home state.

When we spoke to you last back in April you said you couldn’t wait until you could get back on the road to do the orchestrated tour. So how did it feel finally getting to do that after such a long time without performing?

Beyond thrilling. The world seemed to be throwing grenades at that tour, doing everything to stop it. Glorious WA managed to fend off the pandemic’s wrath and we euphorically played all four shows with WASO and conductor Vanessa Scammell. What a bloody triumph in a year that’s been 99% bad news for musicians, and not just for musicians.

And how do you feel the band has benefited from being back on stage? And how will that influence what we can experience at this Hotel Rottnest show?

Well it’s that heightened sense of appreciation I guess. Deprived of shows last year, the one show we did last year, since COVID, felt really, really special. I think that sense of preciousness will carry forward for us, as Counting Crows said, and probably some 80s band before them, “you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.” Also, it’s Rotto! Who doesn’t love being there?

As a band that tours internationally so much, how has it been the past year being grounded in Australia and particularly in WA? Have you found positives in that given it’s something you may not have experienced for a while? 

Certainly. Living out of a suitcase has its thrills; new day, new plane, new show, new bed. Repeat. Awesome! But it’s also quite a taxing lifestyle. It’s harder to maintain a connection with your friends and family while you’re on the road. So I think all members of the band have benefitted in their personal lives from being home more. For me, I’ve just had a baby daughter last August, and it was somewhat fortunate for me to just be there for her and my wife. I would have missed them a lot!

And how do you feel that will influence the music the band creates next?

There’s a few pies in the oven already but it looks like our next body of work will be a focus of music we grew up loving, like Smashing Pumpkins, The Beatles and Queen, to name a few. We’ve had a string of radio singles in the past few years so we feel ready to extend our body of work to something outside that scope. Should be an interesting time!

Your recent single Weekend showed a new side to the band. What was the inspiration for the song and how was it different from what you had done before?

Yeah Weekend was the only song that felt right for us to release in 2020. It’s just pure escapism. Grab your friends, go to the beach or go where you love and put all your stresses away and just enjoy yourself. We’ve released a lot of work with a sense of melancholy. So yeah Weekend was the antithesis for that vibe!

And what else can fans look forward to from Birds of Tokyo for the rest of the year and beyond? Any more tour plans or new music in the works?

Yeah, nothing I’m allowed to report. But there’s a rather large tour planned at the end of the year. Fingers crossed Australia is in a good position for music tours and venues can hold their full capacities by then!

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