The Sound of Ghosts

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by Brown Bird

Brown Bird.   Photo by Mikael Kennedy.

Brown Bird has a tendency towards the dark side. Pulling from the influences of the blues, outlaw country, roots rock, early American folk, gypsy and eastern European music, they offer harmonized voices, haunting lyrics and diverse rhythm and instrumentation, which surges in waves that often swell into high-spirited, foot-stomping madness.

Here is a digital Mercurial “release” of their newest EP, The Sound of Ghosts, and an interview with the band.

by Brown Bird

 


 

Brown Bird has a tendency towards the dark side. Pulling from the influences of the blues, outlaw country, roots rock, early American folk, gypsy and eastern European music, they offer harmonized voices, haunting lyrics and diverse rhythm and instrumentation, which surges in waves that often swell into high-spirited, foot-stomping madness.

Here is a digital Mercurial “release” of their newest EP, The Sound of Ghosts, and an interview with the band.

Brown Bird will be visiting member MorganEve Swain’s hometown of Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, June 17 for a special benefit concert for the Edmond Town Hall theater.  Also on the bill is The Low Anthem, a hushed folk band that is flooding indie radio stations everywhere.  For tickets and more information, click here.

 

Interview with Brown Bird’s MorganEve Swain

 

Brown Bird.   Photo by Mikael Kennedy.

The Mercurial: Tell me a little about how Brown Bird came to be.  How did you two meet?  

MorganEve: Dave started Brown Bird back in 2003, and it’s gone through a few line-up changes since then. The original band was Jeremy and Jerusha Robinson, a married couple from Maine who now have their own band, South China. They left the band in 2007 to focus on South China, and Dave embarked on a long solo tour. I met him in Virginia at the end of that tour in the summer of 2008, while I was touring with a Providence-based band called Barn Burning. I joined Dave, he moved to RI, we played as a three-piece for a while with our friend Mike Samos, and then as a 5 piece when the Robinsons rejoined for a while, and now we’ve been a duo since last Fall.

TM: You write in many different rhythms, often in the same song.  For any given song, about how much practice time is needed to get all the changes down?

M: Hm… our writing process changes from song to song. Sometimes we’ll have song ideas for months before it solidifies into a real song, and sometimes the structure will change several times before we settle on one. It’s hard to say on average how much practice time is needed, since each song is so different. We never stop practicing them, either. Even if we’re performing them every weekend, there are still parts that we need to play over and over to keep our chops up. (Especially when the bass or cello is involved, since I’ve only been playing them for a year and two years, respectively)

TM: Speaking of rhythm…tell me about Dave’s percussion set-up.

M: The percussion set up that Dave plays, (which is a kick drum with his right foot, and a wood block and tambourine held up with Gajate brackets and hit with kick pedals with his left), came out of necessity when he was playing solo. He realized he needed some other sound to create volume and drive, so he wasn’t just another guy with a guitar. Dave’s first instrument were drums, so the mind-boggling rhythms and foot coordination come pretty easily to him, I think.

 

TM: If your music was a human being, where would it’s hometown be?

M: I don’t think our music would have a hometown! Dave was born in Illinois, but moved around a lot as a kid. He’s lived in Boston, Seattle, California, Maine and now Rhode Island, and has traveled to some crazy places (like Haiti and Africa). I’ve also spent a lot of time in Maritime Canada, and traveled to Poland and Austria. Now with our more recent touring under our belts we can claim even more places (both coasts of the US, Brazil, Europe) and every single place we go influences our music and our lives.

 

TM: And speaking of hometowns, Morgan, tell me about this upcoming performance at Edmond.  How did Newtown shape your path in music?

M: I’m totally thrilled to be playing a show in my hometown, and especially at the town hall where I used to go for 2-dollar movies. Part of the proceeds of the show is going towards restoring the Edmond, which I think is wonderful.

Growing up in Newtown definitely contributed to my musical background, although a lot of the experiences I had were outside of my hometown. Still, the attention given to the arts in the Newtown public schools was really wonderful, and I hope that it continues to be. It’s always so depressing to watch music and arts programs get cut from school budgets; it’s such an important part of education in your formative years.

 

TM: You guys recently played at the Virada Cultural in Brazil.  How did Brazil like Brown Bird?

M: Playing in Brazil was really spectacular. The Virada Cultural was a 24-hour festival in the streets of Sao Paulo, where entire city blocks were shut down to traffic and taken over by the people. There were art installations, dance, film, and every type of music you can think of, from Brazilian “Funk” (which is actually a super-sex-charged street hip-hop) to The Misfits, to traditional Brazilian folk music. We played at 5am to a huge crowd of people, who were cheering us by name and singing along by the end of the set. It was unreal!

 

TM: When and where did you record The Sound of Ghosts?  

M: The Sound of Ghosts was recorded at Machines with Magnets, a studio in Pawtucket, RI, over the Spring.

 

TM: What can you tell us about your upcoming full-length?

M: The full-length, Salt for Salt, will be coming out in the early Fall. It’s the first record we’ve done as a duo, and we’re pretty proud of it! It’s got a bit more rock and Blues influences, compared to the last record, but still has strong roots in the “Americana” genre we’ve been linked to in the past. It also features my brother, Spencer Swain, playing violin on one track.

TM: Thanks so much guys.  See you at Edmond!

 

The Music

1. Ragged Old Town



 

2. Bilgewater



 

3. Rat Tail File



 

4. Cast No Shadow



 

 

The Sound of Ghosts is available for purchase at BrownBird.Bandcamp.com.  Learn more about Brown Bird at BrownBird.net.

 

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