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“It’s Gonna Be Birds, but With More Guitars” – Birds of Tokyo on The Return of The Pub Gig

As Birds of Tokyo get ready to take flight at Rottnest Island this weekend, the band explain how they’re more eager than ever to return to the sweaty live stage.

Image of Birds Of Tokyo

Cybele Malinowski*

With live music restarting nationwide, a comforting sense of normalcy is beginning to return to music fans and artists alike. Manoeuvring changing goalposts when it comes to live touring is still a significant obstacle many are figuring out, however the opportunity to perform in itself is proving to be a driving factor to just get out there and make it work.

Birds of Tokyo know this all too well. Split up geographically throughout 2020, the ARIA Award-winning band found themselves in a tricky spot where last year’s orchestral tour saw them not only back on the road, but springing back to form within a performance format that they had not been used to. 

There was no easing back into things, no dipping toes in to check the water’s temperature.

The band was thrown back in, the deep end being some of the country’s largest stages, alongside some of Australia’s most defined and talented orchestral musicians.

The performance high proved insatiable.

“As you can imagine, we’ve been desperate to do these shows and everyone was dying to get back on stage.” multi-instrumentalist Glenn Sarangapany explains.

“It wasn’t really [a moment of] dusting the cobwebs off, it was learning how to do something completely new in a new environment. It could not have been more foreign to us if you tried. That is what made it really exciting as well.” 

“By the time we got to Brisbane, the restrictions had been quite eased, so Brisbane was actually a full, packed-out gig. It was to the point where they’d sold the seats behind us, because it was an in the round type circle. It was amazing. That was when it felt like we were back.”

With Sarangapany and frontman Ian Kenny in WA, guitarist Adam Spark and bassist Ian Berney in Sydney, and drummer Adam Weston in Brisbane, the Birds of Tokyo operation isn’t as easy as everyone piling into a van anymore. The group’s upcoming show at Hotel Rottnest this month will be the first time the band will have played what’s essentially a pub show in quite some time. 

It’s also an opportunity for them to soak up the opportunity of all being back on the West Coast.

“It’ll be nice to do this gig, with Kenny and I back in WA,” Sarangapany says.

“At Rottnest Island it’s going to be as close to a no seats gig as we’re gonna be doing for quite a while, I imagine. During our last shows, I was filling in on guitar for Adam. He got trapped in Sydney so he couldn’t come to a bunch of the shows. Now that we’ve stepped up with that, we’re using a bit more double guitar vibe. It’s gonna be Birds, but with more guitars. I’m very much looking forward to that!”

“It’s gonna be Birds, but with more guitars. I’m very much looking forward to that!”

The band’s last album Human Design, was released last year, and proved to be an album of solace for many fans. Whirring pop influences met with the classic Birds of Tokyo rock sound, brought the band their second #1, while showcasing some of Kenny’s most personal lyricism and songwriting yet.

Sarangapany admits that they’re still in the very early stages of their next project, but those early stages are ones that he is absolutely stoked on. 

“Everyone has definitely got stuff they want to write about, there’s stuff they want to say. There’s been so much going on internally I know the entire world has trouble expressing with words, but music – specifically rock and pop music – is so visceral, that I think this is going to be a really good point for everyone to have a cathartic experience from it.”

But as for now, what can fans expect from Birds of Tokyo as they move into Album Seven territory? Guitars, baby. 

“I’m more excited about this than anything else. I think that’s because it’s so exciting to be writing again. It’s very, very guitar heavy. We’ve been talking a lot about our album Universes and going back to something like that.” 

“One of the tracks we’ve been playing live a lot from the last album, called ‘Never Going Back’, is quite along those lines. That’s been getting nearly as big a response from fans who have never heard the track before, as things like ‘Lanterns’ and ‘Plans’. We’re vibing on moving a bit toward that sound, but who knows what’s going to happen?”

Coopers Live, Loud and Local

Birds of Tokyo

Sunday, April 11th
Hotel Rottnest, Perth, WA

Tickets on sale from Coopers Local