Birds of Tokyo are currently one of Australia’s hottest bands. We catch up with drummer Adam Weston, in the lead up to the band’s appearance at the Open Arms Festival in November.
How old were you when you started playing drums?
To be honest, I can’t remember. I can’t put a date on when I started getting lessons or anything like that. It was just an intuitive thing.
I tended to be smacking things left, right and centre. When I was about 4 or 5, my parents tried to get me to have piano lessons, but I just didn’t have the patience for it – and I think a junior drum kit followed shortly after that.
I actually didn’t have a drum kit or do anything musical until I was about 19 or 20. I’ve always been into music and wanted to choose that path, but never really had a chance to until I was well out of high school.
> So how did you eventually get involved with music?
I spent my high school years in regional WA, so as soon as that was done, I headed down to Perth and started a music course.
I met a lot of people and went to as many gigs as possible. I soaked up the local scene, started a few bands, and that’s pretty much how everyone from Birds of Tokyo met.
> Do you play any other instruments?
Not professionally, but I have been known to play a bit of guitar. Having said, that I play it left handed and upside down – which is probably not the right approach.
Actually, I have a custom made guitar coming, so I will be able to play it more comfortably, rather than playing a right handed guitar where all the knobs get in the way.
> Who were some of the artists that inspired you growing up?
Prior to the whole grunge movement, it was just a lot of ‘50s and ‘60s music, and I used to raid the old man’s vinyl collection.
There was definitely a healthy diet of everything: Elvis, the Stones, the Beatles, the Easybeats. I have never really shied away from that. After that my first favourite band was Roxette; that was followed by Guns N’ Roses then bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Sound Garden, and Stone Temple Pilots.
A whole heap of Aussie artists also influenced me, like Magic Dirt, Tumbleweed, Custard, and those bands from 1994 to 1997 had an impact on me. I guess that’s what connected the love of music.
> Tell us about recording the new Birds of Tokyo album.
This time around we wanted to spend a bit more time on the songs and how we were going to approach the actual recording process itself. The first album we wrapped up in about a week, and the next one took about 3 weeks, along with some mixing. We aim to step it up each time around.
So this time we did some lengthy pre-production in Perth and Sydney, then we spent about 6 weeks tracking the majority of it in Sweden and we travelled to London to get a lot of the live strings done; that was an eye opening experience.
All the post production, as far as mixing and mastering goes, was all handled in New York. So even though we have pumped out three albums in 4 years, it definitely felt that this record got everything it deserved, so we are really happy with it.
> Do you have a favourite song on the album?
I would have to say ‘The Unspeakable Scene’. It’s always hard to have a favourite song, because more often than not if you’re playing it all the time, it can get a little tiring.
At this stage of the game I don’t think I’ll get tired of that song. It’s probably the most rocky, guitar driven song on the record.
> What do you enjoy the most? Do you like performing live, or making a new record in the studio?
They are both challenging in their own ways. I enjoy it all, but I’d be lying to say that there weren’t stressful or tedious times in the whole process. I think working through pre-production prior to recording is often the hardest part of the creative process, when trying to work hard and be happy with the results that you’re generating.
Once that’s all done and you work through it, you will actually lay the songs down for real. That’s probably the most rewarding part of the process, which is a feeling you can’t really put into words.
But then, being able to take that and put it into the live context and see how it resonates with the crowds is also very satisfying. I’d say they both have their perks, and there are different ways.
> You’re coming to Coffs Harbour in November to play at the Open Arms Festival. Kenny was here last year with his other band, Karnivool. Has he given you any insight as to what to expect from the festival?
Not exactly. If there is anything I should be worried about, maybe I should ask him! The last time Birds of Tokyo came to Coffs was a little over 2 years ago. We played at the Hoey Moey, and I remember that being a real pumping gig.
But for us to be able to present our new material at Open Arms, in the festival format, I dare say means we are not going to be holding back.
> If you had a chance to play with any other artist, past or present, who would it be?
It would be hard to go past some classics like Led Zeppelin. But at the moment I am really digging a cool little indy band out of Canada called The New Pornographers. I am going to be travelling to Melbourne to go see them. They are definitely one to keep an eye out for.
> Thank you Adam.