A Baa Baa Blaah with Cousin Tony’s Brand New Fire Bird talking American Beauty, Inspiration and Dream Gigs

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Alternative rockers, CT’s Brand New Fire Bird, have been blazing a trail for themselves in Australia with their distinct musical amalgamation of indi, introspective, Australian music. As fans of their musical direction, we took the time to get to know what makes them tick, their inspiration and, as always, what’s on their own playlists.

Let’s go back to where it all began shall we? Where did you meet? At high school, the local skate park, friends of friends who all listened to the same underground Australian tunes?

Kieran (guitar) and I used to live together in a very musical share house while we worked together for the same youth organization. When I moved in with him he was working hard on his own solo music project, I had never considered writing my own music. Through helping him get to shows and occasionally advising him on his songwriting, I started to realize how much I loved the idea of writing music. That was the real genesis of it, but about a year on I was running a series of performance nights called Fortnightly Fort Night where we would set up giant box forts and people would come and perform inside them. Both Fran (synth) and Leigh (bass) were originally random performers who came to Fort Night.

 

Speaking of location, you’ve got a killer song called Melbourne Bitter … and it just so happens that you’re from Melbourne. Being a young band, does being a part of a specific music scene have an impact on what kind of music you create?

Absolutely. It’s hard to say if one particular style is really launching out of Melbourne as opposed to just music in general, but either way it seems to be in a good place. I think the strength of the local scene really bridges the gap between young bands and the professional realm – you’re able to just wander down the road and see a band like King Gizzard, Hiatus Kaiyote or Mangelwurzel. It makes the concept of taking your music beyond Melbourne a lot more accessible.

Dom Alessio from Triple J has mentioned that you could be ‘Melbourne’s answer to The National’. You’ve even been likened to Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros and The Drums. What other bands or artists have influenced your music?

There are 5 of us in the band, all with completely varying tastes and approaches to music, so it always feels very open. But certainly Kieran and I in the early, developmental stages of Cousin Tony were listening to a lot of Justin Vernon’s music with Bon Iver and Volcano Choir. We also devoured the more Americana, folky stuff coming out of Philly like Kurt Vile and The War on Drugs. Those kind of bands set a real foundation for us, but our musical influence is perpetually in a state of flux.

 

We went along to your residency at The Evelyn which was fabulous, you were so excited to be playing there! With your audience growing and a bright future of BIG shows, are there any venues which you would love to play in the future? It could be a local iconic room like The Forum or even a dream-big venue like Madison Square Gardens … wherever you’d most like to play!

The absolute dream would be the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur, California. I’ve been there a few times just driving through – it’s an old, wooden outdoor stage surrounded by giant Redwood trees. Beyond that I think they’d all be iconic Melbourne venues – The Forum and certainly the Palais. Playing to a seated crowd isn’t something I’d want to do every night, but it’d be one of the most profound challenges as a band I think.

You’ve incorporated both the acoustic sound with more technological beats, Lachy’s guitar with bouncy keyboard and soothing vocals for example. Do you play around with the kind of sounds you create or does it all just come naturally?

I try not to get too stuck in sound world. Fran and I have a whole bunch of keyboards and synths between us but I’m proud to say we never spend time mucking around scrolling through sounds. We leave that to the studio and try to get on with just playing the song. Nothing makes me more excited than a good synth and all its possibilities but I think that side of it can be one of the most dangerous traps as a songwriter.

 

We HAVE to ask … where on earth did your band name come from?

It’s a quote from Kevin Spacey’s closing monologue in American Beauty. As he dies he remembers the most important moments from his life – one of them being the first time he saw his cousin Tony’s brand new Firebird. There are many ties between that monologue and my approach to songwriting. Even though it can be a bit of a nightmare at times, I always wanted a really long band name. When Kieran told me he loved the idea, it seemed pretty clear to me that we should be playing music together forever.

 

Since early 2015, you’ve released a number of popular singles which have all done so well, Soothsayer, Queen of Hearts, etc. And during your live show at The Evelyn, you played a few new tracks as well, some really cool tunes! Do you have any plans in the works for a full album?

Definitely. We’ve been wanting to record an album since we first started playing together. Singles have been a great way to get our foot in the door and show a bit of a range, but we have so much music that we want to get out and if we could we’d be putting out a couple of albums a year. I can’t say when it will be recorded or released, but the album is written already.

Lastly, as fans of music and sharing here at The Wandering Lamb, we like to know what all the musicians are listening to these days. What have you guys (and girl) been listening to lately?

That’s always changing. Most of the guys in the band, including myself, are studying music so that seems to really push what we listen to and incorporate into our processes. Right now – Joseph Liddy & The Skeleton Horse from Sydney are just blowing my mind. Also Vangelis’ score for Blade Runner. As a band, we’ve been listening to a lot of Krautrock which is really bleeding into our music in a big way. Bands like Neu!, Can and Harmonia.

https://soundcloud.com/gaga-digi/sets/joseph-liddy-and-the-skeleton-horse

 

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