▶ Tell us the interesting story behind the bands moniker.
Here’s the story. We love birds. We live in Chicago. Wait – that’s not interesting at all! It is, however the truth…. it was originally going to be just the name of the album, but we realized, after awhile that continuing to just call ourselves “JT Nero and Allison Russell” was kind of tedious..
▶ When did the band form and how long did it take to find the bands own sound?
The band, officially, is just over a year old — but Allison and I have had separate bands – Po’ Girl and JT and the Clouds — who have been playing and touring N America and UK since 2004… those bands have always collaborated, and did so more and more until it seemed like it was time for Allison and I to give our collaboration it’s own name, space, time… Musically it’s been a constant process of evolving, refining… try not to think of that as static thing – as in once it’s “found,” it’s done… the discovery never stops. Having said that, we feel a great deal of telepathy, comfort with each other and our band (the band features veterans of JT and the Clouds) to sort of carve out a musical identity that is true to our influences, but very much our own.
▶ What releases have you put out thus far, and which would be the one to listen to for the uninitiated?
Well – we can make the choice pretty easy – our self titled release is the first for this band…
▶ Is there a particular live show that stands out amongst all the rest?
We played a festival in the Yosemite area of Northern California – the Strawberry Music Festival — one of the very best roots music fests in the States – in one of the most beautiful mountain settings — we played an early evening set and a Harvest Moon was on the rise… that’s a tough one to forget.
▶ Can you talk about a Highlight and a Lowlight of the journey so far?
Well, I’m lazy – so I’ll take that bit of Harvest Moon prose I just banged out as a highlight… lowlight – easy – we were stranded for 14 hours in the Denver Airport last week, trying to get home after a four month tour. When you are told you will be stuck for 14 hours in an airport, the natural, human response is to go to an airport bar and have a few. Which we did… too soon…should have paced ourselves. Created unfortunate phenomenon of getting drunk in an airport, passing out in an airport on some awful bench, then waking up on same awful bench, hungover, only to realize you still have 8 HOURS LEFT in said airport. That was a rough one.
▶ What does ‘success’ mean to the band?
Being able to continue traveling the world and knowing that, wherever we go, we can muster up a roomful of people that want to hear us. That’s pretty much it. Alli and I are both restless sojourners, so building an audience that will allow us to keep touring remains the center of the dream. That’s a bunch of words to try and avoid hitting you with the ol’ “it’s the journey, not the destination” cliché. But it is. The journey. We’d like the journey to not be too famished or miserable, but it’s the journey we pay attention to…
▶ You are in control of forming a 4 piece ‘super group’ – who is in it and what do they do?
Hmm I will assume this is a living person’s only question – otherwise this would be too tough… Will go with Questlove from The Roots on drums, Dan Auerbach on guitar and vocals, Lauryn Hill on vocals, Chris Merrill from Birds of Chicago on bass…
▶ If you and 3 bands of your choosing were to do a world tour, who would the other 3 bands be?
Hmmm I like a mixed bag style wise… so let’s say Gillian Welch/David Rawlings, Feist, D’Angelo, Mavis Staples
▶ If you could make one strange dressing room demand, what would it be and why?
Would like room heated to 105 f for hot yoga practice before show…. we’ve become creepy, bikram yoga cult members to save our bodies from constant touring….
▶ Finally, in a climate saturated with bands vying for listener attention; why should the good old folks at home listen to you guys?Listening to our music has been shown in studies, to improve circulation, reduce anxiety and encourage weight loss. In some cases it has also been known to cause priapysms – erections lasting longer than 3 hours. If this occurs, people should immediately consult their doctors.
Ahhh you know questions like this our tough! Serious answer — we treat every show like a serious thing – it’s our kind of agnostic gospel… there’s an exchange between human beings possible through song that we don’t really get anywhere else in life… that we don’t take lightly. Always trying to catch that feeling…
Website ▶ http://birdsofchicago.com/