Thursday, September 1, 2016

Q & A: Andrew Bird talks a decade of music, his upcoming show and what he's listening to right now

Posted By on Thu, Sep 1, 2016 at 3:32 PM

Andrew Bird has something for everybody. In the last 10 years the songwriter, classically trained violinist and all around musical genius has been a favorite of fans in almost every genre. This weekend, Bird returns to Missoula on his worldwide tour following the release of the critically acclaimed pop originals album, Are You Serious. In anticipation of Saturday's show, we caught up with him to rehash Missoula memories and talk about his latest album.
  • photo courtesy of Addie Juell

This year marks a decade since you released your first solo album
Music of Hair. What is the biggest difference between that album and your most recent release Are you Serious?
Andrew Bird: Well, it’s a new band and a new drummer. The drums are the one thing I can’t really do. I can create a bass line but this drummer, Ted Poor, is one of the best drummers in the world. It changes everything. I think there is definitely a different sound to this album because of that. 

Your fall tour stops in big cities and smaller towns like Missoula. How do you approach those shows and which do you prefer?
AB:approach every show differently. I try to make every show as intimate as I possibly can and sonically I try to make the sound fit the room. You have to read your audience. Some of my favorite performances have been in smaller theaters. You know when you’re playing to a horizon full of people, its great, but your voice goes up an octave and you have to account for that, so I think I prefer some of the mid-size venues I’ve played.

What’s your favorite track from Are you Serious?
AB:think right now I like  “Are you Serious.” It was created as a title track, which is not the way I write usually, but it has sort of grown to be one of my favorites to perform. There is a lot of theatrics; it’s like being an actor in a lot of ways. With that song and “Left Handed Kisses” I play both parts on stage and there is a sort of acting out of the narrator and really thinking about how character singing feels.

There has been some discussion about audience etiquette since the remodel of The Wilma, the venue where you'll be playing. Is there anything you notice as a performer or fan about audiences today?
AB: mean, were not really the type of band to [where] the audience hits us and we hit back. I haven’t been to Missoula in a long time but I think my audiences for the most part have really followed us for the last few years. They are always seem to be really present and in the moment. We really haven't had problems with people filming and things. 

What have you been listening to lately? What’s been inspiring you?
AB: I’ve been listening to Herbie Hancock, lots of '70s and psychedelic. Some West African music and some Colombian music. That’s the type of thing moving me right now.

How did you and your opener (for Missoula’s show) Gabriel Kahane get acquainted and what do you hope he brings to the tour?
AB:actually haven’t heard him yet, but I’ve heard a lot of good things. He's been described to me as more classical with more vocal jazz influence. I heard about him from Blake Mills, the guitarist and Tony Berg who I worked with on Are you Serious. and I have heard that he’s just a tremendous talent. 

Anything you want to add? 
AB: I’m excited to come back to Missoula. I think the last time I was there we stayed at some kid’s house who came to the show and we stayed in his parents basement. His parents didn’t know we were there so they were totally surprised when four guys came up the steps in the morning. It was in a subdivision somewhere outside of Missoula. That was a long time ago, that kid’s kids are probably coming to the show now.

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