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Following a commercially lauded album, Perth band Birds Of Tokyo have dived back into a heavier rock sound with their latest, but it’s a change that Ian Kenny tells Carley Hall was always lurking in the band.


hen Ian Kenny phones in to chat about Birds Of Tokyo’s new album, he’s tackling the same duality he has for years as the singer of two very different but much-loved bands. Fresh from rehearsing for Karnivool’s support slot alongside US nu metal giants Deftones, the singer takes five to talk about his “other project” while soaking up the rays in his hometown of Perth. Never one to sit idle, Kenny’s Karnivool tour is hot on the heels of the release of Brace, the fifth studio album from Birds Of Tokyo. When Birds kicked off in 2004, the then four-piece swiftly gained a following with hooky, hard rock anthems on early releases Day One and the hit-riddled Universes. But a slight bend in the road led the band to a more polished sound with 2013’s March Fires, with flagship single Lanterns the band’s key to unlocking ultimately wider commercial success. With Brace there’s a decisive switch back to a sound that is heavier, riddled with low-slung, buzzing guitar riffs but still with anthems to ensnare listeners. The change is one Kenny stresses was organic, rather than a push to do so out of pressure or self consciousness.

“There’s always been a heavy sort of desire in the band,” he explains. “So I think at some point it would have come out. Most of the parts on March Fires were textural kind of layers that built up this wider scope. But this time it’s direct guitar riffs.” In order to bring about this shift, the band enlisted the help of Canadian producer David Bottrill, the man behind Tool’s Aenima, Muse’s Origin Of Symmetry and Silverchair’s Diorama, and a stack more. “We spoke to Dave at length before we committed to working with him and what we thought we had and what sort of record we wanted to make and where we wanted to take it,” Kenny says. “He’s a very intense, very aware guy. And we can really appreciate that in a producer because I can’t do that; I just don’t have the fucking capacity to.” But Kenny will have to at least stay partially focused after Karnivool’s Deftones tour, with Birds’ national tour of Brace soon kicking off. While a deviation in sound can sometimes divide fans, Kenny says the response to the new material has been “unreal”, and he’s keen to see more reactions to Brace’s darker undertones play out before him. “We knew that we had a different record on our hands and we knew that this is really going to shape a new band — whether that was going to go in the right way in the wrong way, up, down, we didn’t know,” he admits. “The band realises we’re a vehicle, we have a voice and we have something to say. We’re quite concerned about things that are happening, about things that are out of our control. The reaction is ‘well fuck this, we’re going to say something about it.’”


S M O OT H C R I M I N A L S : THE SONGS OF MICHAEL JACKSON Jacko may be gone, but he’s definitely not forgotten. The Voice runner-up Luke Kennedy and world champion beatboxer Joel Turner make an unlikely-but-surprisingly successful collaboration, as they combine their different styles to celebrate the music of The King Of Pop. When & Where: 4 Dec, Brisbane Powerhouse

What: Brace (EMI) When & Where: 25 Nov, The Tivoli


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The Music (Brisbane) Issue #132  

The Music is a free, weekly magazine of newsstand quality. It features a diverse range of content including arts, culture, fashion, lifestyl...

The Music (Brisbane) Issue #132  

The Music is a free, weekly magazine of newsstand quality. It features a diverse range of content including arts, culture, fashion, lifestyl...