Birds of Tokyo and their insistent, bittersweet, rock sounds have resonated deeply with Australian critics and fans. Following two acclaimed albums, the indie band’s self-titled third studio release spent over eight months in the Australian Top 20 and was certified double platinum. It also picked up an ARIA Award for ‘Best Rock Album’ in 2010.
Early in 2011 the band’s anthemic breakthrough hit ‘Plans’ ranked #4 in Triple J’s Hottest 100 while the follow up single, ‘Wild At Heart’, reached #1 on the country’s National Airplay Chart and won the band an APRA Award. Birds Of Tokyo also received the publicly voted Rolling Stone ‘Readers Choice’ Award and ARIA Award for ‘Most Popular Australian Artist’.
In March 2012, Birds of Tokyo partnered with Los Angeles’ based producer, Dave Cooley (Silversun Pickups, Darker My Love) to work on a highly anticipated follow-up to their breakthrough release. After a month’s pre-production in Sydney they took up residence at Oceanway Studios in Los Angeles to begin recording in a room that turned out to be right next door to where The Beach Boys were crafting their comeback release with Brian Wilson. To the amazement of the band the Californian legends happily spent time hanging out and giving them some advice.
It was just one of many remarkable moments which have shaped the band’s new music. Creating the new album, ‘March Fires’ was a journey of exploration and reinvention for Birds of Tokyo. It’s a story of burning down the old and coming together to build something new. Spearheaded by the album’s first two singles ‘This Fire’ and ‘Lanterns’, the band’s fourth studio album ‘March Fires’ debuted #1 on the National ARIA Album Chart – the band’s first ever #1 record. At the time of release, it also became the highest selling first week sales of any album of 2013. The album was certified gold within four weeks of release, with ‘Lanterns’ reaching #2 on the National Australian Airplay Chart and certified triple platinum.
“We really made a conscious choice to just put a match to everything we’d done before so that we could create something that felt fresh and exciting for us. Hopefully people who like the band will feel the same way when they hear it”, explains Adam Spark.
Over the course of their first two studio albums (2007′s “Day One” and 2008′s “Universes”) Birds Of Tokyo carved out a niche for guitar driven anthems. Lots of touring around Australia gradually turned them into Triple J favourites and indie chart toppers. With their eponymous third release in 2010 things shifted up another gear. They won the ARIA Award for “Best Rock Album” and the APRA Award for “Best Rock Song”. They enjoyed genuine hit singles with “Plans” and “Wild At Heart” and earned multiplatinum certifications. They stole the show at major festivals including Big Day Out and Groovin’ The Moo and they capped it all off by winning the publicly voted gong as “Most Popular Australian Artist” at the 2011 ARIA Awards.
Not surprisingly their heads were swimming. But rather than milk a formula they decided to throw themselves into new ways of being a band. Burnt it down. Started again.
Their broadening musical palate is particularly apparent on the pulsing title track “This Fire” and on the aching meditation, “Boy”, which also features on the EP. This time around the hard edged guitars give way to a more textured approach in counterpoint with hazier keyboard atmospherics. It’s an incendiary brew that grows more intoxicating with each listen.
In addition to sounding fresh the “This Fire” EP sees the band attacking different lyrical themes. While not overtly political or preachy there’s a recurring motif of people coming together which reflects the increasingly interconnected world in which this music was created. In fact the title track is nothing less than a clarion call for togetherness.
“At some level those lyrics probably reflect the way the band itself was coming together”, reflects Ian Kenny. “We collaborated a lot more on this music for a lot longer than we’ve ever spent before. We consciously set out to stretch ourselves in every possible direction and hopefully that shows.”
The EP provides an early taste of the new Birds Of Tokyo album which is currently nearing completion. The as yet untitled set is scheduled for release in March 2013. In addition to the tracks on “This Fire EP” other songs from the hugely anticipated album are likely to be showcased when the band lights up for a handful of shows in late 2012 including Rockit (with the Black Keys) and Homebake.