Interview: Shining Bird

Shining Bird

A deep voice that makes the velvet vocals of James Earl Jones quiver in jealousy. Shimmering arrangements that stretch further than the Nullarbor. A video clip that features Steve Irwin-defying snake-wrangling. Who could compile such a completely incredible resume? You bet your arse that I’m talking about Shining Bird.

If all that wasn’t enough, The Bird have been kicking goals elsewhere. They’ve nabbed a FBi Radio Song of the Year nomination for their new track “Rivermouth” (vote here), played a killer show at The Union in Newtown over the weekend, and are going to be heading up two shows over the next two weeks: The Heritage Hotel in Bulli on Thursday, 26th November (w/ Tiny Ruins and Flowertruck, tix here) and Fairgrounds Festival in Berry on the 5th of December (w/ Father John Misty, Royal Headache, Unknown Mortal Orchestra + more, tix here).

Before all this goes down, I got the opportunity to pry open the skull of frontman Dane Taylor, Ray Liotta in Hannibal style, and ask about lengthy tunes, Footrot Flats,

R: Your new song “Rivermouth” is one of the shorter singles you guys have released, even though it comes in at four and a half minutes. Are you working on compressing your songs, or is that just a coincidence?

D: I think it’s just a coincidence on this occasion. Generally our songs take a long time to unfold. We don’t really ever know until the last mix, exactly how long the song will be.

R: What attracts you to writing those longer songs?

D: It just seems to work out that way. We like to cover a lot of different terrain during a song.

R: Longer songs seem to be having a renaissance, with Gang of Youths and Roland Tings being two of the standouts bands of 2015. Why do you think audiences are turning back to the longer, in depth songs, especially at a time where everything feels like it needs to be compact and short to keep people’s attention.

D: I feel like I must be pretty out of touch with what audiences are into at present. I would have thought attention spans were still at an all time low. That’s nice to hear; perhaps people are starting to crave those deeper experiences again.

R: The song sees a return to that classic lush Shining Bird sound. With the upcoming album, are there any surprises for fans of the usual Shining Bird sound? 

D: There will be quite a few surprises but it’s unmistakably a Shining Bird record.

R: “Rivermouth” packs in a lot of unconventional instruments, including that string section. Are there any other sounds and instruments you look forward to bringing into the Shining Bird fold?

D: We have definitely expanded the palette. Lots of orchestral instruments and didgeridoo

R: You guys also released an awesome t-shirt in conjunction with the single, with Dog from Footrot Flats on the cover. What’s your history with that comic?

D: We loved the comics as kids, and were inspired after a recent revisit of the film to do our own spin on that classic character. We gave ‘Dog’ wings as we knew he’d be a bird fan.

R: Did you have to get permission from Murray Ball?

D: All he wanted was a t-shirt!


R: Triple J have been doing a thing called Aus Band T-Shirt Day, where they encourage people to wear Australian Band T-Shirts. What are your thoughts on that?

D: It’s a great way to promote and support Australian music! Such a good idea. ..Did we mention we have some new shirts for sale? [Interjection: You can buy ’em here if you so desire]

R: You’ll be finishing up the single launches for Rivermouth at Fairgrounds Festival. What do you reckon about a big festival coming to a regional town like Berry?

D: I think it can be really good for those small towns, just as long as the festival-goers clean up after themselves. Lets keep Australia beautiful! The more quality boutique festivals outta the big cities the better!

R: It’s looking like you’ll have quite a big stage to play on. Is that a relief from the days where you’d have all six of you jammed onstage?

D: Make that seven! We just welcomed the sax maestro Michael Slater to the bird, so yes – im sure we will be loving that bit of extra room on stage. Although Al (guitar) always seems to make the most of any sized stage, usually by climbing all over the PA or jumping into the crowd.

R: Finally, Fairgrounds has got such a crazy lineup. Is there anyone on there you’re particularly excited to see?

D: The lineup is quality! Really excited to see Father John Misty & Royal Headache just to name a few..


New: Miners-Soft Focus

I first heard about Miners when I was at this house party. How i managed to find myself in the accompaniment of real people at a social occasion, and not embarrass myself will be a question for the Gods. However, I do remember that my jaw was taking a hiatus at my feet whilst Miners played a loud set of shoegaze rippers.

Case in point: their brand new track ‘Soft Focus’, which is a part of Farmer & The Owl’s first record release ‘Beached Friends’. Amongst established legends like Shining Bird, Big Dingo and Hockey Dad, Miners hold their own with a song that drills its way right into your fucking head, and sets up shop there like a compassionate, MBV-loving mole.

The shaky vocals get wafted along at a frenzied pace, as all the instruments lock into this sonic groove as big as the Death Star explosion. And the best thing is that it just grows, and grows, and grows, until not even the most expertly timed ‘Yo Mama so fat…’ joke could circulate around it’s enormity.