Ever since I first listened to Michigan’s finest, Brave Bird, I found that I just can’t get enough of them. My interest in the band increased, especially after I saw them play in a basement in Lowell, MA with tour mates, Dowsing. I was quickly amazed by the band’s talent and live performance. Chris Lieu’s (lead vocalist, guitarist) fingers move a mile a minute when he plays guitar and sings, all the while with his eyes closed. Also, Mike (bassist) holds it down with drummer, Mark, and adds his necessary back-up vocals when needed for that extra “umph” that their recordings include. When Brave Bird returned from tour, Chris was nice enough to find the time to answer some questions regarding his band. Many people, like myself, would compare the band to Brand New and American Football, but why don’t you find out for yourself?
1. Brave Bird is gaining more popularity lately, especially since signing with Count Your Lucky Stars Records. When did you guys form as a band? Has the line-up remained the same today?
It’s really only been a few weeks since we announced signing with Count Your Lucky Stars, but our demos have been getting passed around and listened to more and more in the last year. We formed in the summer of 2010, but didn’t really do anything until 2011. We’ve gone through a few second guitarists, but Mike, Mark and I (Chris) have been the in the core group since we started playing shows.
2. On May 9th, Count Your Lucky Stars Records announced that Brave Bird signed to their label. What made you guys decide to sign with CYLS?
We’ve been friends with Keith, through playing with Empire! Empire!, for a while and he’s always been supportive in what we do. At times it feels like Michigan has a pretty sparse scene, so we help each other out whenever we can. Really when it came down to it, we knew that Keith would take care of us and mentor us through the long hard process of releasing our first LP, which is something that can’t be said for a lot of other labels. Count Your Lucky Stars has put out some amazing releases and we’re so excited to add to that library, but even beyond the music the bands on CYLS form a very tight-knit family. And I guess we’re the little brothers on the label.
3. Your Ready or Not EP was released in 2010. Where was the EP recorded? Are there any benefits from allowing your fans to download this EP for free on media fire?
The Ready or Not demos were recorded in my bedroom. I don’t think you can be in a newer band and get away with not giving your music away for free. Why would you want to listen to a band you’ve never heard of before that makes you pay 5 dollars to hear their basement quality trash demos? That’s just cocky.
4. You guys also released a cover of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Maps”. What made you guys choose this song to cover? Did you do anything specific to make the song sound different from the original?
I think there’s a huge stigma about playing covers of bands that haven’t broken up yet. But I think it’s kind of a fun thing to do. We play Tegan and Sara covers at our shows sometimes for no good reason. “Maps” is a super popular song, but it’s still has a very genuine feeling to it that I identify with. I recorded that song by myself one night and I accidentally said it was a Brave Bird song. I don’t even remember what tuning my guitar was in when I recorded it.
5. You’re currently on tour with label mates Dowsing. How did this opportunity come about? Where are you most excited to play?
We’ve been friends with Dowsing pretty much since our bands started. They are our best friends, and we had planned to go on tour with them for a long time. We just finished our tour with them actually, but the show I was definitely most excited for was our Allston show with The World is A Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die. However! Looking back on that tour my favorite show was probably Philadelphia. That show was a huge surprise. The kids out there are amazing. Also Black Bird’s vegan pizza and cheese steak in Philly was the best food we ate on tour. Actually Peace-o-Pie vegan pizza in Boston was pretty insane. The ACTUAL best food we ate were fat sandwiches in Jersey. I’m really hungry.
6. Any other tours that you will be a part of in the near future that we should know about?
We’re going on tour again this summer with the band Pity Sex. It should be happening in August.
7. Count Your Lucky Stars Records posted that Brave Bird will be recording this summer at Minx Recording Studio with Mat Halliday (Empire! Empire! , I Was a Lonely Estate, Reptilian, Fireworks) and the songs will be released sometime in the fall. How did you decide on choosing to record your record at Minx Recording Studio?
Keith recommended him to us. He’s recorded a lot of cool bands, and he’s located very close to us. It was pretty much a no brainer.
8. Are there any different approaches you guys are taking to write the songs that will be on this next record? How would you compare and contrast your writing process now from your Ready or Not EP?
We’re recording most of the songs off Ready or Not for the next record anyhow. But the newer songs are either really long or really short. We’re trying to do a wide spectrum of things, like placing poppy songs and sort of “avant-garde” songs next to each other. But generally the new stuff is all pretty much standard Brave Bird material and if you liked our Ready or Not demos you’ll probably like this stuff as well.
9. Are there any influences you guys have that you would say contribute to your writing process? What are you guys currently listening to?
I mean we get compared to Brand New and American Football a lot, which is a huge compliment seeing as those are two of my favorite bands. I listen to a lot of stuff and that contributes to what I think sounds good in my head, but I don’t really ever try to write songs that sound specifically like anything. I’ve been listening to a lot of Bear Vs. Shark, Paint it Black, Crime in Stereo, Into it. Over it., Joanna Newsom… I think the best band on the rise right now is Joyce Manor.
10. What bands out there would you love to collaborate or tour with?
I think if I could choose one band to go on tour with, it’d be Spraynard. I really don’t think you can be a bad person if you are the kind of person who would go to a Spraynard show. But more realistically it’d be awesome to go with The World is A Beautiful Place or Empire! Empire! Both those bands are stellar and contain the funniest and nicest people I’ve met in a long time.
11. Anything else to add?
We’ve been sitting pretty on the same batch of songs for a while now and haven’t really done too much. But we’re ready to start taking this seriously and put in the time. We want everyone to hear our music. Also… I hope I don’t fail school, but I guess that’d be okay if I could do as much with his band as I wanted.
Brave Bird’s Twitter @bravebirdmi
Listen to Brave Bird’s “Scared Enough” off of their Ready or Not EP