Birthday Club
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Birthday Club

Houston, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015

Houston, Texas, United States
Established on Jan, 2015
Solo Pop Experimental

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Mar
18
Birthday Club @ Eleanor Tinsley Park

Houston, Texas, United States

Houston, Texas, United States

Mar
18
Birthday Club @ Javelina

Austin, Texas, United States

Austin, Texas, United States

Mar
03
Birthday Club @ The Merry Widow

Mobile, Alabama, United States

Mobile, Alabama, United States

Music

Press


"Must See Pop SXSW: Birthday Club"

Drawing upon swatches of psychedelia and New Wave, Houston's Birthday Club crafts eclectic pop tunes awash in faint allusions to L.A.'s mid-Eighties Paisley Underground. Guitarist/vocalist Stephen Wells cuts a commanding centerstage persona on souped-up summer blasts like "Having Too Much Fun" from last year's Lighten Up EP. - Austin Chronicle


"COS- “Having Too Much Fun” - Single Premiere"

The synth lines on Birthday Club’s new single “Having Too Much Fun” sound like they were lifted straight from an “all killer” mixtape of only The Cure’s most body-moving hits. Meanwhile, the guitar plays along with a riff that could have slotted in nicely in any number of new wave comps. But rather than jump on the track with a morose, sad-boy delivery a la Robert Smith, this Houston band sets themselves apart with an uplifting, echo-y vocal worthy of the song’s title.

That’s not to say the song is all party and no pathos. Vocalist and guitarist Stephen Wells (formerly of Featherface) says that he intentionally injected the exuberant track with trace amounts of evil.

“I wanted to write a song that sounded really upbeat while at the same time having a sneaky, sinister vibe,” he said. “Sort of like how cats really enjoy staring into your eyes while they slowly tip over that last glass of Hawaiian Punch all over your laptop. That’s what we were going for.”

It’s an oddly specific (and oddly universal) feeling that they just so happened to completely nail. If the band can wrangle together a few more tracks that hit with this level of intensity, then their debut EP Lighten Up — out September 30th and available for pre-order here — will be a force to be reckoned with. - COS - Consequence of Sound


"Birthday Club "Lighten Up" EP Exclusive Stream"

"The six-track makes for easy listening – it’s feel-good indie-pop with just a dash of psychedelia and math. Birthday Club is the project of former Featherface frontman Stephen Wells joined by a talented lineup of musicians both on the performance and recording fronts." - All Things Go - All Thing Go


"Birthday Club Interview - Houston Press - In Bloom Festival"

Music is an interesting space, in that it's filled with all sorts of characters. When a band forms, it can usually be the efforts of a group writing together, though more often than not, the band is made up around one person's vision. Over the years, I've gotten to know Stephen Wells of the band Birthday Club, through varying endeavors and projects. What's never shocked me, is how large he thinks, what he aspires to, and where he sees himself in the grand spectrum of the music industry.

While most bands are focusing on making their name around town, Birthday Club has always looked outside of Houston to get their music heard. This year, Birthday Club will take their sound on the road again while playing this year's inaugural In Bloom Festival, and the Houston Press was more than happy to chat them up about what they have planned for the festival and more.

It should be noted that In Bloom is not the only festival the band is performing at in March, as they will also be at this year's Savannah Stopover Festival in Georgia. While anyone who's been paying attention for a minute would know, the band has been around since 2015 starting up from the ashes of Wells' previous project Featherface.

"Birthday Club as a live band didn't really come together until mid 2015, but I'd been working on a ton of the songs during my time living in Austin with my old band," Wells says. "When that chapter came to a close, I moved back to Houston and spent a lot of time alone in my room, just writing and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the songs. All of that work sort of culminated in an invitation to play a Sofar Sounds concert in the art space above Paulie's on Westheimer."

"I showed up with my acoustic guitar, some really crude backing tracks and a handful of songs that were nowhere near "done." Needless to say, I was pretty freaked when the room slowly filled to capacity as my set time approached. It actually ended up being a super fun show and everyone was really receptive to whatever the hell I was doing. That positive energy sort of helped give me a push to start working on forming a more proper band for the first real live show at Walter's."


If you've ever caught Birthday Club before, then you'll undoubtedly notice that they're more than just one guy. Though, Wells is listed as the sole member, something we asked him to clarify.

"Over the past two years, Birthday Club has slowly morphed back and forth between a solo project and more of a "band" oriented project, so I think I'm eternally trying to find the balance between those two things. I think a lot of artists have a tricky time pinning that down. I still basically write and produce most of the songs, but I'll also bring in my friends so we can arrange and co-produce the individual parts together whenever it feels right.

"Travis Peck and Valeria Pinchuk are the other members in the current incarnation of the band, and we've been through some crazy stuff together on tour the past few years. I'll typically record a demo track with the ideas for certain parts, and then I'll email those tracks to them so they can produce and work out their own ideas using the tracks as inspiration," explains Wells.

The band's Lighten Up E.P. had the feel of Brit pop mixed with sunshine laced pop rock. "It's weird because I'm honestly not sure what influences were floating around my head when I was working on those songs," Wells says. "I was definitely listening to way too much Big Star at the time, but I was also listening to a lot of Lata Mangeshkar and old Bollywood music, which I studied in college. Influences are strange because they can literally come from anywhere and anything, so it's a really hard thing to pin down.

"As far as other bands out there right now, I've been having a pretty hard time figuring out where these songs would be able to easily fit in with the current guitar oriented waves going on. I guess I'd like to think that they'd fit in on the singer/songwriter/pop side of things that you'd find on a label like Matador Records, but the new songs that I'm working on are definitely more on the electronic side of things."

And while that E.P. definitely holds up around two years since it was released, it made us wonder if the band had anything new on the horizon. "There is new music coming this year and a debut full length in the works. I'm also going to be launching a new Birthday Club cassette series in the coming months for different production commissions and experimental ideas that I've completed. The first release is going to be excerpts from the original scoring production that I did for NPR at the start of the year, featuring vocals by Elizabeth Salazar Rodriguez," says the guitarist.

Whatever Birthday Club put sout this year, it should definitely be catchy.
Whatever Birthday Club put sout this year, it should definitely be catchy.Photo by Valeria Pinchuk
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Birthday Club shows typically feel like a mixture of chill hang coupled with energetic indie rock, and Wells has his own strategies about how to keep going.

"I remember once catching Sharon Jones drop a set during the hottest time of the day on the main stage at FPSF. The Houston sun had been baking the front of the black plywood stage for several hours, so she performed a lot of the set dipping in and out of what little shade remained towards the back of the stage with her band. Suddenly, towards the end of the show, she kicked off her shoes and started frantically dancing barefoot on the hot stage like someone running across a bed of coals. This went on for what seemed like an awesome eternity. Long story short, I'm probably going to play barefoot this year; that'll do the trick." - Houston Press


"Birthday Club Nashville Showcase Review 10.25.16"

"When a band is into one another, touring, and really digging what they’re trying to do, it always shows. Birthday Club is one such band, and the well oiled machine powered through their psych-inspired pop flawlessly. They remind me of a less emotional version of The Cure, with their straight outta the ‘80s synth, but they bring it back to the present with garage/psych riffs. The dance ready number, “Having Too Much Fun,” really got my attention, but the entire set was solid, and I found myself excited to spin their debut EP, Lighten Up, once I got home." - No Country For New Nashville


""Lighten Up" - Best Albums of 2016"

Houston is a great place to be a music fan. The city's diverse crop of singers, players, producers and DJs never stop reppin for the H, whether its in front of 25 fans at a small club, onstage at a burgeoning festival or on the national TV stage.
That excitement makes for some great music from year to year. And 2016 was no exception. A handful of Houston acts offered up particularly intriguing, invigorating efforts. #12: Lighten Up," Birthday Club: Airy alt-pop with terrific vocals, strong melodies and a retro slant. - Houston Chronicle


"Birthday Club Premiers "Lighten Up," Talks Screaming Goats"

"Light, airy almost, Wells’ vocals come in during a period of self-actualization with the first line, “I used to think that everything was cut and dry.” Clearly his mind has been changed, and this mid-tempo, dreamy track is serving as his vessel to tell that story." -Impose Magazine - Impose Magazine


"FPH - "Lighten Up" Single"

"The title track “Lighten Up” off of their album Lighten Up is crafted like it was meant for a much larger audience, the song is one of the best modern pop songs I’ve ever heard. Complete with a hooky chorus and a catchy beat, there’s a moment in the bridge where singer Stephen Wells’ hits a note that spreads magic all over the song that you’ll hum along to it before it’s even finished." - Free Press Houston


""Big, Sparkly, & Loud: Birthday Club Makes Everything Alright in the End""

"Once, there was a band called Featherface. They were awesome, an intense, thoughtful blast of fuzzy psych-pop goodness. They toured, played SXSW, moved up to Austin, made some trippy, strange videos, got some cool press, and then…poof, they were gone. Before what turned out to be their last-ever show, they warned that it might be their last for a while, and that while turned out to be for good.

A year or so later, word started going around that guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Stephen Wells was back in Houston, and Featherface was no more, he was doing something new. And “new” is the right word; with new outfit Birthday Club, Wells has left the psych stuff behind, for the most part, trading it in for shiny, retro-ified pop that bounces and sways along alluringly, with synths that fell through a timewarp from 1985, primary-color melodies, and a vibe that’s simultaneously cheery and sneaky.

Strange though it is to type, on the one track the band’s released so far, “Having Too Much Fun,” Wells sounds like he’s smiling this knowing, half-smirk little smile while he’s assuring the listener that it’ll be alright in the end. Then, as if to flip things around, he’s suddenly sweetly crooning “feel so alone,” over and over again until the song comes to a close." - Space City Rock


Discography

"Lighten Up" EP - Released September 30th, 2016

"Occupying Our Space" - Original NPR Scoring Production by Birthday Club, aired January 26th, 2018

Photos

Bio

Birthday Club is the music of Houston, TX based singer/songwriter/producer, Stephen Wells. With the release of Birthday Club's critically acclaimed debut EP, “Lighten Up,” Wells and company have sneakily managed to summon an off-kilter incarnation of sun-drenched bedroom pop, swirling together Big Star-esque power pop riffs into wide open, spaced out hues. With outlets like Consequence of Sound describing the band as “a force to be reckoned with,” it’s becoming more and more obvious that this young Texas band is shooting far beyond the humble orbit of Southern hometown roots.

Following the release of Birthday Club's single, "Having Too Much Fun," Wells and his band set off an extensive schedule of national touring, setting a nearly relentless pace that held for the spring, summer and fall of 2017. Coming off the heels of an official SXSW appearance and a showcase performance at CMJ's new festival in NYC, Birthday Club is preparing to release new music in early 2018, beginning with the cassette formatted release of the project’s first scoring production for NPR radio, which aired on January 26th. The project is also scheduled to appear alongside bands like Beck and Of Montreal at the In Bloom Music Festival and Savannah Stopover Festival in Spring of 2018 while recording is completed on upcoming releases. 

"Lighten Up" EP Credits:

Engineered by:

Erik Wofford (Cacophony Recorders, ATX)
Aaron Bastinelli (Converse Rubber Tracks Head Engineer)
Justin Douglass (Converse Rubber Tracks Engineer/Shine Studios, ATX)

Mixed by Aaron Bastinelli, Brooklyn NY.
Mastered by Michelle Mancini at Larrabee Studios, Hollywood, CA

Band Members