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Birds of Tokyo Flock to the Top

Territorians love a good party. It’s also no secret we love fireworks. So when the two combine to ring in the New Year at Darwin Waterfront, we are there for it.

Making this party extra epic is headlining band Birds of Tokyo, the Aussie alt-rock legends flocking to the Top End for this huge and free community shindig. Tierney Seccull caught up with band member Ian Berney for a chinwag.

Birds of Tokyo is coming to party with us for New Year’s! I imagine you get a few NYE party invitations, so why did you accept ours?
Well, it was the opportunity to play in Darwin. I think, because Darwin gets less musical festivals than say Melbourne or Sydney, people are more excitable which makes our job slightly easier. It’s always been a very receptive time [in Darwin].

You’ve played in Darwin before, at BASSINTHEGRASS, how do you find the Territory crowd?
I loved playing BASSINTHEGRASS in 2015. It was a great sea of people – a sea of heads, all handsome and pretty – and they swayed and sang along, which is always exciting, because if you haven’t really been to a town you don’t know what to expect.

I’ll always remember it. We played just as the sun was going down into the evening and it was just a beautiful time to be out there, facing the Darwinians [laughs].

[Laughs] Very grateful Darwinians! I was there, one of my favourite BASS festivals to date. And you’re right, there is a real yes crowd here. We appreciate when bands like you come to see us
Yeah, well we appreciate when people come and see us! [laughs]

The band’s had a pretty big year with gigs and festivals, and your NYE gig comes at the end of a national tour with Keith Urban – how did that come about?
It’s been kicked down the corridor for two years and was supposed to be a 2020 end of year thing … then it was meant to happen last year, but we were still facing similar issues. But bam, everyone’s given up on the problem and we’re all just partying again, Keith’s comin’!

How it came about, I guess our manager was approached by their super team and Keith Urban felt we were a good fit, so yeah, we’re gonna give it a red hot go. Maybe do a country music cover or something in our own Birds of Tokyo way?

Could be onto a winner there! You mentioned it was two years in the making, so what’s it been like to hit the road again after disruptions of the last couple of years?
It’s quite euphoric, I suppose. You don’t really realise how kind of addicted or attached you are to performing until it’s taken away, and I was wondering how I was going to get my next thrill stuck inside my own house for months on end. Getting back out there playing, you’ve got a heightened sense of appreciation that may have been taken for granted.

So it’s been bloody awesome, in summary. [laughs]

If you weren’t busy enough, you released your new single ‘Daylight’ last month, can you tell us a bit about it?
‘Daylight’ is kind of, I guess, [lead singer] Kenny’s story of getting through the bad times and just seeing the bright side of things. That’s the sense you get as the sunlight comes up, if you can imagine – Kenny can explain it better than I!

The song was probably the first the band’s been able to write together in a room for the last three years … it was just really good to reconnect with what’s sort of the magic of working together in a live room, and you can sort of feel that comparatively compared to our last few singles.

There is a connective energy in the music and the playing … and so it’s been a much more pleasurable experience because connection is everything, you know. For us to be able to connect in a physical presence again as writers is the best part of the journey, which we also sort of forgot about. So yeah, that’s ‘Daylight’, which is quite aptly named, really, ‘cause the line is “I can see daylight” so he’s feeling the sense of positivity in the air.

So, with a new single out and the gang back together connecting in a physical space, does that mean we might see a new album coming out soon?
Yeah, we keep adding to the list, but we’ve got up to 17 tracks that we really like … we’re going to get together and cull the least amazing songs [laughs], because obviously nothing we write is terrible which is a complete lie and the only way to write one good song is to write 20 bad ones!

So we’re getting there, I think we’ll probably build it all early next year, January to March, and the release plan is still a little further away but I reckon we’ll have a new album next year, for sure.

And so I guess that’s your New Year’s resolution then, right?
[laughs] Yeah, to put out an excellent record!

New Year’s Eve at Darwin Waterfront
Feat. Birds of Tokyo, Melanie Gray Duo, DJ Lady Kay & Bananas in Pyjamas

Photo: Kane Hibberd

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