Today’s Feature, November 19th-20th: Birds Of Wales

November 21, 2007 at 1:53 am (Today's Feature)

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Birds of Wales is one of those bands on the verge of an explosion here in the U.S. – a group that has been teeming around the edges of American mainstream for a while now, and is set to make a significant mark at any moment. They’ve been showcasing their talents all around the globe in the meantime, first in Canada with a foundation of “strong songwriting and outstanding live performances,” becoming a regular on the Toronto music scene. They were also noticed across the Atlantic where they made their first tour of the UK in August 2006. Two tours have since followed, as well as the re-release of their CD as the “Fall of the 49 EP” in the UK and Spain.

The catalyst behind the Birds of Wales rush in the U.S. will likely be their upcoming full length album release that follows up on the self-titled EP, “Birds of Wales.” The EP stands out with its “honesty and vulnerability,” an “eclectic listen… ranging from Neil Young Rock n’ Roll to Acoustic ballads to Pop to Tom Waits styled music.”

The new album however, will give an updated look into just what Birds of Wales has to offer. Their sound, “a melding of Folk with Indie Rock,” also includes “some toe-tapping driving country beats, some straight ahead 60’s rock Ôn roll, some softer acoustic folk ditties.” The new full length release will also feature some talented guest work that enhances the record both lyrically and musically.

You may notice their single, “My Lady; In July” in the upcoming feature film, “Ecstasy,” based on a story by “Trainspotting” author, Irvine Welsh. You may also take notice of the fact Birds of Wales will be doing some touring before the release of the new record. Take advantage, and get a live look at the material before you buy the new album. Jump into their XXQ’s.

XXQs: Birds of Wales – Morgan Ross (lead singer)

PensEyeView.com (PEV): How and when did Birds of Wales first form as a band?

Morgan Ross (MR): Birds of Wales started as a collection of songs I wrote while in University in 2004. A Canadian band, Stabilo(Emi), met me in Prince George, BC, where I went to school, and really liked the tunes, so they offered to play as my band, and help pull strings for recording time in Vancouver. I took time off school, racked up my credit cards and recorded what would become Birds of Wales freshman disc. I also wanted to have a band, so I named the work, Birds of Wales- giving freedom to have a band or solo. I moved to Toronto shortly after in the Summer of 2005- auditioned musicians, and formed the band in Oct. 2005.

PEV: Was there a certain time in your life when you thought, “Okay, music is going to be my career”?

MR: When you’re young, you rarely think in terms of careers, all you really do is daydream about what you want to be doing. For me, I ate, breathed and slept music- I just followed where my heart was pulling.

PEV: Growing up, what kind of music did you listen to and who helped shape your sound?

MR: I grew up listening to a jumble of everything. The soundtrack to Good Morning Vietnam has always been a staple love of mine- everything from the Beach boys to Louis Armstrong. Mid teens I found myself obsessed with Punk music/culture. The socially conscious side of punk really helped shape me though.

PEV: Tell us about the first time Birds of Wales performed live on stage? Where and when was it?

MR: After auditioning and putting together a lineup in October, 2005, I convinced a Toronto promoter to give us the headlining spot at Lee’s Palace(a great venue in Toronto) on a Saturday night. We drew over 250 people to the first show- November 5th, and it was seen as a huge success.

PEV: What can people expect from your EP, self entitled, Birds of Wales? As well your up coming full length release?

MR: People can expect a eclectic listen from our EP. 7 very differing songs- ranging from Neil Young Rock n’ Roll, to Acoustic ballads, to Pop to Tom Waits styled music.

Our upcoming full length is what I am truly excited about – I have come a long way since the EP, and am really proud of the skills I have picked up along the way. I have been lucky enough to work around and with some great musicians and songwriters this past couple years, and I am proud to say I have really stepped things up lyrically and musically. I’ve even embraced the two step!

PEV: How is the music on the EP, Birds of Wales different from other music out today?

MR: Honesty and vulnerability are what make the EP something I am proud of. Coming from a more lyric based upbringing- I feel as though I came at the album from a differing angle than most. I tried to let the lyrics speak before the music, and I am really happy with what happened. In addition- the sheer eclectic nature of the disc adds something new to the world.

PEV: What was it like when you stepped into recording studio to lay down the tracks for Birds of Wales? What was going through your heads?

MR: Every time I’m in a new studio I feel like a kid in a candy store- as if I just want to set up shop and live there fiddling with things for ever. I was very excited to get the recording process started- The way I see music is that I will bring forward a basic song structure I am proud of- and I love the idea of everyone else pitching in and lending some of themeselves to it.

PEV: When you sit down to write music, what kind of atmosphere do you surround yourselves in?

MR: For myself, I write most all of my songs alone. I write the most while in Vancouver at my family home- a block away actually- a water reservoir on the mountain we live on, overlooking downtown Vancouver, the harbour and mountains. Once the skeleton of the song is written, I take it to the band, and we hammer away at it- making it into something we’re all proud of. This always happens in our rehearsal space.

PEV: Having traveled/toured all over, which has been your favorite to perform in and why?

MR: Definitely Spain. The first show we played in Spain was last May, and it was one of the most encouraging things I have ever had happen to me. We didnt know what to expect- a new crowd, a new country, but it was amazing. They physically made us have 5 encores- lasting longer than our headlining set, before I finally had to put my guitar away, lock it, and head for a drink. The people were fantastically welcoming and supportive there.

PEV: With that, how has life on the road been? What are the best and worst parts?

MR: Life on the road is an interesting part of being a musician. I would say it is one of the easiest and quickest ways to collect amazing stories- but as with most great stories- they arent some comfortable in the moment. I love the aspect of meeting new people and seeing lots of beautiful places- I dont always like the aspect of knowing you have to leave the next morning or that night.

PEV: When you have some down time from touring and performing, what can we find the guys of Birds of Wales doing?

MR: I am still trying to squeeze in University courses in between tours. I’m studying German Political Economy at the moment. We all try and fit in music related work – as well as Mike, our Lead guitar player is a Graphic designer.

PEV: How have your friends and family back home reacted to all your success?

MR: Interestingly. People back in Vancouver treat me a lot differently. The guys giving me a hard time in earlier years are now going out of their way to be my friend, and the girls at home suddenly think you’re cuter than you probably are! In addition- they all think we’re wealthy. So far, only in stories.

PEV: Is there an up and coming artist that you think we should all be looking out for?

MR: Justin Nozuka. Very talented young Toronto singer songwriter. He’s going places.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the guys in Birds of Wales?

MR: 3 of us are history buffs- which make travel more rewarding. Also- Mike is quite the straightedge

PEV: What is your take on today’s music scene?

MR: Today is a great time to be a music lover. With affordable recording gear and easily promoted music- comes a revolution of great new music- and the ability to try new things.

PEV: Is there an artist that you would like to collaborate with that you have not had a chance to yet?

MR: A few hundred. John K. Samson of the Weakerthans

PEV: Describe to us what an average show day is like for you? What are you guys doing before a show to get ready?

MR: We always geekily do a hands in the middle- cheer before each show. I’m the geeky ringleader on that one.

PEV: Do you remember the first time you heard your songs on the radio?

MR: Vividly. I was on a bus and my bass player called me screaming. Toronto’s big rock station was playing Fall of the 49 and talking about us. I went nuts! or seen in the stores? What kind of feeling was that? I felt really proud. As if I was going to yell to everyone to come look.

PEV: In one word, describe Birds of Wales?

MR: Audacious

PEV: So, what is next for Birds of Wales?

MR: Recording the new record is our priority. We’re VERY excited about the new songs. We will also be heading back to Europe at the beginning of 2008, for our 4th tour of Europe in 16 months.

For more information on Birds Of Wales, check out www.BirdsOfWales.com

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