We’ve gotten a lot of emails asking for a physical release of When Women Played Drums and now Grizzly Records is making your/our wishes a reality! Super limited edition of 50 hand numbered cassette tapes w/ new art, our new song “Waters”, a flexidisc of the new single and various other goodies. Out 7/10/12, pre-order at the link - /V\ /V\
"White Birds turn heartbreak into low-key, lo-fi indie-rock gold on "Hondora", our MP3 of the Day" - Spinner.com--- 1 year ago --- 2 notes ---
Lo-fi pop quartet White Birds is a young band, but it’s also kind of old. Before White Birds, three of the members used to play together in a group called Drink Up Buttercup, a band whose sound and tone were much different than White Birds’. After Drink Up Buttercup disbanded, James Harvey, Farzad Houshiarnejad and Mike Cammarata formed White Birds. Some supporting tour dates and a four-song EP released on a cassette tape soon followed.
White Birds released its debut full-length, When Women Played Drums, on the group’s Bandcamp page on Valentine’s Day. The 10-track LP is a series of ethereal, reverb songs steeped in sun-drenched nostalgia. CMJ called vocalist James Harvey up for an interview as he was about to go on a walk, a stroll that was disappointingly canceled because of rain.
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We contributed one of our tracks to a benefit compilation on Wild Kindness Records that is raising money for GEMS ( Girls Are Not For Sale ). GEMS is an organization that helps girls and young women who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking to exit the commercial sex industry and develop to their full potential. Support a great cause and pre-order at the link - /V\ /V\
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Posted on 14 March 2012 by Bowlegs
White Birds have released one hell of a debut in the shape of When Women Played Drums. Heart-aching harmonies raise from the lo-fi production – conveying songs of real emotion. Just imagine the Fleet Foxes being kicked into a dank basement with nothing but a few Beach Boy records, a 4 track and plenty of time for reflection. Of course when a record this good falls into our laps we need answers – and lots of them.
Bowlegs: So, the debut album is getting great reviews (well deserved by the way) – did you expect a lo-fi cassette release to get such attention?
James: Thank you. There seems to be a little bit of confusion about the release actually. While we had the entire album finished since last summer, we decided to put out a little four-song teaser on cassette via Grizzly Records in September 2011. We got a little impatient when it got down to releasing the full LP, so we decided to just go ahead and put it up on our Bandcamp on Valentine’s Day. So while I think there might be a few copies of the cassette EP left for order, the only place you can actually grab the full length is the digital copy available on our Bandcamp site.
Bowlegs: Why release the album on cassette? What do you think the attraction is to the format? Do you have a good cassette player?
James: We thought that the sound of the recordings would lend itself well to the cassette format. On top of that vinyl is too rich for our blood and honestly there is something about compact discs that seems cheap and/or cheesy to me. I know you can dub tapes too, but CDs feel like don’t have any sort of value as a physical piece these days. We don’t have a good cassette player – we honestly don’t have a good anything! Life in our house is very lo-fi all around.
Bowlegs: The album revels in its lo-fi aesthetic: what do you think it brings to your music? Where did the recording take place?
James: We have multiple recordings of all of the songs on the record. Different versions, almost identical versions of what’s on the album, but in higher quality. The album is all about heartbreak and I really felt that the lo-fi recordings added to that overall feel of being broken down, lost, alone. We recorded the album at our house in Bucks County, PA. The whole band lives here. It’s a charming little spot. Good lighting, great vibes.
Bowlegs: So are the numerous Brian Wilson comparisons we’ve seen good to read? Is he an influence? Who else inspires your music?
James: The whole band has a huge amount of respect and love for Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys. We don’t really spin his/their records all that much though. The influence is definitely there, but it’s not some kind of direct thing where we were recording the album while listening to The Beach Boys on repeat or something. I feel like it has more to do with me and my brother Farzad’s harmonies. Our voices are tied by our blood. It’s definitely more of a natural thing than us trying to take what another band did and run with it.
Bowlegs: Youths is a beautiful track, with a real sense of nostalgia – is the past something you think about a lot? What else is the track saying?
James: Thank you again. The past was definitely something I was contemplating very much when I wrote the lyrics for this album. What I was trying to say with this song was that you can give all of yourself to someone, to a lot of people even, and they don’t owe you anything in return and you don’t owe them. And that’s usually how it works out. You give it your all and end up with a big pile of nothing. At least that’s how I felt at the time.
I also am just obsessed with the idea of how when you fall in love it can make you feel young again, and no one wants to be old. So that’s the note that the song ends on. You feel like someone else can change you, the two of you feeling some newfound youth. But it all just ends up in broken promises. It was a dark time, and I’ve certainly changed a lot of my opinions since writing those lyrics. But hopefully they can help a listener get some perspective if they are going through something rough.
Bowlegs: Three of you played in a previous band – do you think knowing each other is a factor in being able to get such a personal and fragile vibe onto tape?
James: We are just best friends. I mentioned before that we all live together. We do everything together. It’s amazing that we haven’t killed each other at this point. But we hardly even argue. Except about the dishes, I suppose. Farzad actually hid all of the extra dishes so that we all only have one plate, one bowl, and one of each kind of utensil. That’s as far as our problems go. So yeah, we share a deep connection that definitely had a huge impact on our recording. Also, most of the album is about all my problems and crap I was going through, and who better to help you sort that out than your best friends?
Bowlegs: What’s the title track about?
James: When Women Played Drums is about the idea of having someone who you lost for good – a lover – and the idea of you just being a ghost to them, so they are in some form your widow. The verses, especially the first verse, are a bit more personal and perhaps best left unexplained.
Bowlegs: Who writes the songs, are they all about real experiences? Are the harmonies the hardest part to get down?
James: Farzad wrote two of the songs on the album, Bee Hive and Mirrors in Mirrors. I wrote the rest of the tracks as far as lyrics and chords and melodies are concerned. The arrangement of the songs was very band oriented however. Michael always seems to have these awesome ideas that no one else ever thinks of. He’s definitely our go to guy for ‘we shouldn’t do it that way, we should do it this way’. He’s always right about what sounds cooler.
The songs are definitely all 100% very real experiences. We were having a little bit of trouble during the writing process, but as soon as I went through a dramatic breakup the songs just came flowing out. It was definitely the most ‘real’ and honest music I have ever written. The harmonies are actually the easy part for some reason. If all we had to do was come up with harmonies we’d have five albums by now. Finding the experiences that inspire you, good or bad, is the hardest part of writing.
Bowlegs: What’s the band set up when you play live? How does it compare to the recorded material?
James: Live setup is two guitars, two midi keyboards, bass, moog, and drums. Manned by four of us. Live it just looses all the lo-fi elements. It sounds really big. People are often surprised at how the songs sound the same as the record, but just bigger. I suppose if someone digs the songs a bit, but isn’t a huge fan of the lo-fi aesthetic, they should definitely check out our live show. It’s different.
Bowlegs: What do you have planned for the rest of 2012? Do you have ideas on how you want the next set of songs to sound?
James: Our plan for the rest of the year is to keep spreading the word of the LP, play a bunch of shows in the Northeast, and keep recording new songs. We have a handful of new tracks in the works now, but no specific plans for release at this time. We’re mixing the new songs into the live set though currently, so if you want to hear where our sound is heading, come check us out live.
Bowlegs: How did you hook up with Grizzly Records?
James: Chris, who plays bass, guitar and keys in the band, went to college with EJ. I met EJ through him and we kept in touch. EJ came across the jams and hit me up on Facebook and said he was interested in doing a release. We were fans of the label and the vibe, and everything from there was more like a great friendship than some kind of business deal.
Bowlegs: What albums have you been listening to of late? Any good bands we should check out?
James: I’m a huge fan of Acid Glasses. My Pale Garden and Jpeg Hoarder are two of the best songs I can think of in recent memory. I feel like most people reading this would have probably checked out Wise Blood at this point, but his first EP is still something that strikes a chord with me every time I listen to it. Also, coming from a member of White Birds this might sound funny, but Rings In The Trees by Yellowbirds has to be one of my favourite songs that I’ve heard in a really long time. Beautiful harmonies. A must listen.
HEAD TO THE WHITE BIRDS BANDCAMP TO GET THE RECORD--- 1 year ago --- 1 note ---