Many Birthdays
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Many Birthdays

Austin, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2005 | SELF

Austin, Texas, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2005
Band Rock Experimental

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This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Jun
10
Many Birthdays @ Stay Gold

Austin, TX

Austin, TX

Apr
09
Many Birthdays @ Cheer Up Charlie's

Austin, TX

Austin, TX

Oct
02
Many Birthdays @ The Off Center

Austin, TX

Austin, TX

Music

Press


I shouldn’t worry about the future. Obama is President, the world still turns, my cats are healthy. And yet I have a nagging feeling of anxiety; maybe it’s because the economy, as I write this, is entering one of those death spirals that promises to drag us all down to depths of hobo-like destitution the likes of which haven’t been seen outside of American Experience documentaries. Maybe that’s it. And so, given our strange contemporary combination of happy political developments and dark economic ones, we need a soundtrack that speaks to what’s ailing us - some audio pick-me-up for our new Great Depression.

And then along comes the latest Many Birthdays EP, Emptiness Is Forever and we’re almost there. We last heard of these Austin electronic popsters in 2007, when their Days Of Beat/Days Of Hollow EP set our imaginations soaring with an international-ist combination of bleeps, blurps, beats, English, and Japanese. The whole world hated America, but Many Birthdays smiled back at it, and sent out waves of quirky pop energy to all the little children around the globe. So how will our experimental beat merchants cope, now that everybody loves us for our Obama-nationhood, but the apocalypse edges ever closer?

What Many Birthdays do in this edgy historical moment is re-shuffle the lineup and make their pop sound even quirkier and more urgent. In their latest aggregation, vocalist and synth-queen Sara Luce screams along with new guitarist Henna Chou, and drummer Rachel Fuhrer adds a welcome other-half to bassist (and vocalist) John Dixon’s rhythm section. It all adds up across the EP’s six tracks to a much tougher and more earthbound sound than on their previous outing, which sometimes threatened to sail off into studio-fied ether.

The first track here, “Kiki The Destroyer” lights the fuse - a theme tune looking for an anime to accompany, it’s all foreboding menace and kiddie imagery, beckoning us to go down a tunnel by distracting us with something shiny. But things really get going with “Minnawa,” a scratchy, noisy blast of Nippon, with Luce yelling Japanese lyrics like a WWII fighter pilot flying in for the kill, while other drummer Vincent Durcan slams us down to the carrier deck. Things level off with the rather conventional “Electro Fantastic”; it’s a tune that’s too reminiscent of past pop phases, although Fuhrer’s inventive fills manage to jazz up the proceedings well enough. But “Good Luck” is the EP’s centerpiece, a garage-pop excursion highlighted by a farfisa-like hook, and sparked by Sarah’s “Hell Yeah!” refrain.

“We’re entering savage new times,” said Peter Dvorsky in David Cronenborg’s Videodrome. “We’re going to have to be pure, and direct, and strong if we’re going to survive them.” The upcoming era might not turn out to be savage, but its music will have to be equal parts catchy and harsh if it’s going to help us tough it through. Maybe I’m projecting a bit too heavily upon Many Birthdays, but the bright pop-smack across the face that is Emptiness Is Forever will not only get us to stay strong in these perilous times - it’ll help us dance our way through them. - Austin Sound


To those still salivating for more Far East-wrapped underground rock, even after Asobi Seksu’s Citrus (2006), Many Birthdays is here for you. Like New York’s Asobi Seksu, Many Birthdays wrap Asian vocals around some serious rock, but the relation isn’t quite so direct. Where Asobi Seksu pours swirling shoegaze guitars and post-rock instrumentals into their music, Many Birthdays relies on underground noise rock in the same vein as Sonic Youth, or perhaps even Vivian Girls.

Hardly anything swirls out of control in the Austin act’s EP Emptiness Is Forever. Quite the contrary – melodies and grooves are kept on the low-down, establishing a calm cool that hangs like smoke over the entire release. With vixen, sometimes-foreign vocals thrown over the top, Many Birthdays’ grooves stay low and steady. Here and there a synthesizer (such as that in “Good Luck”, in which it emulates Pink Floyd) may rise above to grab the spotlight, or the instrumentals may climax to a rousing finish. But the majority of Emptiness Is Forever is spent groovin’ away in a subtle and ultra-cool fashion.

It’s the same sort of “Kool” factor found ever-present in Sonic Youth cuts. The comparison is pushed further in “Tsugi ni Kuro Koto”, where alternating male/female vocals mimic exchanges between Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon – but the cutesy Japanese of Many Birthdays’ Sarah Luce couldn’t be more opposite from the sexy growl of Gordon. Closer to Moore is John Dixon, who adopts his laid-back delivery, especially in the brilliantly driving “Rock It.”

Many Birthdays simply ooze super-cool with simple, driving beats that creep into your mind with seemingly little effort. They take the formula Asobi Seksu used to their advantage and add in some noise rock cool. The sum is nothing less than, well, awesome.

– Michael Schmitt - Soundcheck Magazine


This blip rock band was a big surprise to me. I haven’t heard much about this group, but I like what I hear. Japanese-Texan electro is something I never thought would be kick ass. They are playing at Mohawk pretty soon, so go see them already. - Sounds Like Austin


I shouldn’t worry about the future. Obama is President, the world still turns, my cats are healthy. And yet I have a nagging feeling of anxiety; maybe it’s because the economy, as I write this, is entering one of those death spirals that promises to drag us all down to depths of hobo-like destitution the likes of which haven’t been seen outside of American Experience documentaries. Maybe that’s it. And so, given our strange contemporary combination of happy political developments and dark economic ones, we need a soundtrack that speaks to what’s ailing us - some audio pick-me-up for our new Great Depression.

And then along comes the latest Many Birthdays EP, Emptiness Is Forever and we’re almost there. We last heard of these Austin electronic popsters in 2007, when their Days Of Beat/Days Of Hollow EP set our imaginations soaring with an international-ist combination of bleeps, blurps, beats, English, and Japanese. The whole world hated America, but Many Birthdays smiled back at it, and sent out waves of quirky pop energy to all the little children around the globe. So how will our experimental beat merchants cope, now that everybody loves us for our Obama-nationhood, but the apocalypse edges ever closer?

What Many Birthdays do in this edgy historical moment is re-shuffle the lineup and make their pop sound even quirkier and more urgent. In their latest aggregation, vocalist and synth-queen Sara Luce screams along with new guitarist Henna Chou, and drummer Rachel Fuhrer adds a welcome other-half to bassist (and vocalist) John Dixon’s rhythm section. It all adds up across the EP’s six tracks to a much tougher and more earthbound sound than on their previous outing, which sometimes threatened to sail off into studio-fied ether.

The first track here, “Kiki The Destroyer” lights the fuse - a theme tune looking for an anime to accompany, it’s all foreboding menace and kiddie imagery, beckoning us to go down a tunnel by distracting us with something shiny. But things really get going with “Minnawa,” a scratchy, noisy blast of Nippon, with Luce yelling Japanese lyrics like a WWII fighter pilot flying in for the kill, while other drummer Vincent Durcan slams us down to the carrier deck. Things level off with the rather conventional “Electro Fantastic”; it’s a tune that’s too reminiscent of past pop phases, although Fuhrer’s inventive fills manage to jazz up the proceedings well enough. But “Good Luck” is the EP’s centerpiece, a garage-pop excursion highlighted by a farfisa-like hook, and sparked by Sarah’s “Hell Yeah!” refrain.

“We’re entering savage new times,” said Peter Dvorsky in David Cronenborg’s Videodrome. “We’re going to have to be pure, and direct, and strong if we’re going to survive them.” The upcoming era might not turn out to be savage, but its music will have to be equal parts catchy and harsh if it’s going to help us tough it through. Maybe I’m projecting a bit too heavily upon Many Birthdays, but the bright pop-smack across the face that is Emptiness Is Forever will not only get us to stay strong in these perilous times - it’ll help us dance our way through them. - Austin Sound


The ever-evolving cast of Many Birthdays puts together an electronic guitar and synth storm that is both fascinating and filled with dance ready beats. Born initially as a recording project of John Dixon, Sarah Luce joined a year later adding their distinct pairing of male-female vocals and mix of Japanese-English lyrics. The swirling effects and textures that Many Birthdays evokes were brilliantly brought to life on 2006’s Days of Beat/ Days of Hollow EP, and the group is planning on releasing their follow up this summer, and they’ve presented a new song for download, the infectious “Black Crow Remix.”

Year Formed:

2002 as a recording project, live shows since 2005.

Members/Instruments played:

Sarah (synths, sampler, voice), John (bass, sampler, voice), Henna (gtr, effects, percussion, voice), Vince (drms) from AM Syndicate when he’s available. And until recently Jorge (DJ Abominatron) on drms. (currently seeking drum person!)

Former Bands/Side Projects:

Henna & John participated in AM Syndicate in a previous life. Also Henna plays keyboards and cello in Fiction (John sometimes fills in for them on bass). Sarah volunteers at the Town Lake Animal Shelter.

Albums:

The Abstract Door (2002), 35 Minutes (2003), Sub Rapid Express (2005), Days of Beat/Days of Hollow EP (2006). All self-released CDR’s. New EP out by summer!

Influences:

Beats, William Blake, Haruki Murakami, moving bodies, DIY, Japanese underground, OOIOO, Mike Watt’s enthusiasm, Trans Am’s live shows, nature, sex, spaces, allergies, schizophrenic tendencies.

Strangest comment or comparison ever made about your music:

“Where are you guys from?” (Asked by many locals…)

Favorite local bands:

Ume, The Always Already, Single Frame, Hello Lovers, {{{Sunset}}}, Fiction, Octopus Project, Coma in Algiers, Fancy Feast.

Favorite local venue:

Depends on who is playing or what is happening : )

Upcoming shows scheduled:

April 10th @ Club De Ville, Apr 26 @ Beauty Bar, May 17 @Lamberts, June 23 @ The Mohawk.

Shows over the next month that you’re excited to see:

MIA/Holy Fuck, Attack Formation — it’s hard to decide until the last minute because there’s usually many things we want to see on the same night!

Some of your favorite albums from the past year:

Holy Fuck, Hot Chip, YACHT, Battles

Ideal band (past or present) to open for on a national tour:

Not band — the late great Bill Hicks!

Austin Sound questions:
What exactly is the band’s situation in relation to Japan, either geographically or inspirationally?

John & Sarah lived near Osaka in 2003-04 and experienced okonomiyaki, amazing live music in small spaces, and the vast connected world of trains. The current situation is that Sarah is still inspirationally wandering a subway tunnel in Shinsaibashi.

Y’all recorded a new album last fall; what can you tell us about it, especially in relation to Days to Beat?

Well, actually the last CD we released was an EP called “Days of Beat/Days of Hollow” (in 2006). We’ve been playing shows, writing & recording new material ever since, and we plan to release a new EP by this summer. As far as differences between the previous music & our new material, Many Birthdays is constantly changing (new people, new friends, new ideas)…. therefor this next EP has new blood in it. That and our ability to quickly recover from mental meltdowns hopefully points to success!

Song Introduction:

Black Crow Remix — a damn fine painting! It’s in Japanese, but the story goes like this: there’s a little black crow in a tall tree and we’re not sure if he’s watching over us or just WATCHING us. The drums remind us of a train.

Sound Off:
Make hot, fun, disease free love NOT war. Toss salad NOT garbage. Kick ass NOT animals or small children. Escape the drudgery DON’T submit to it. Wine is acceptable WHINE is not.

The Asuka River winds its way through a slightly run down area of Kashihara-shi and into prettier countryside that serves as the graveyard for ancient royalty. Walking along the river, all you might notice is the trash and the sickly koi or muddy turtles. But sometimes, when the sun glows at just the right spot in the sky, it blinds you to the faults & all you see is the original beauty of the water & its inhabitants. Then you realize you’ll probably never see it again.

- Austin Sound


DIY disciples prepare a melting pot of musical ingredients ranging from jostling noise-rock to vanguard electro-pop. Tastiness ensues.
On the Texan trio's fourth disc, Many Birthdays apply elegant restraint to a mess of genre-bending concepts, molding random clamor into lean quasi-pop vignettes. "Freeway" rings in the affair with persistent hollow clacking, laying groundwork for the composition. With every passing bar, a fresh instrumental layer is added, mounting tension with the utmost patience. Heavy drum machine beats bob in an undulating sea of synth-rock mastery, blending blasé Japanese intonations, jaunty retro rhythms, and spacey whirs and whooshes. The fluid build opens cerebral portals while a funky undercurrent pulls bodies toward the dance floor. The eccentric "Days Like Turtles" teases with toybox beats and wry indie-boy rap before it comes in for the kill with a huge, sweeping choral break you won't see coming. The effect is nothing less than magical. "Handful of Zeros" is a slight step down, but far from filler. The song hits its stride when the last minute melts into a woozy prog reverie with floating guitar strums, distant machine chugs, and eerie synth whines. Perhaps the most traditional of the five, "Black Crow" supplies a breezy, dance-friendly bridge to the cinematic finale, "Yume no Sekai." The EP closes all too soon with a surreal, intense burst of imagination, featuring a synthesized symphony fit for a dramatic film ending. Although Many Birthdays draw on a vast array of influences, they steer clear of bland imitation. Categorization is futile. Take my word for it: these are 17 minutes well spent. - ReGen Magazine May 4, 2007


Many Birthday’s have finally released a follow up to their awesome 2006 EP, Days of Beat/ Days of Hollow, in the form of a limited edition EP called Emptiness is Forever. Cheery bunch, huh!? You might not get from the title, though, just how much fun and infectious Many Birthdays is, so they’ve put out this video for the song “Rock It” just to prove it to you. It’s a gritty, night club type pastiche that includes some live footage from the fine folks over at Switchburn.

You can catch Many Birthdays rockin’ it at the Mohawk on Oct. 23 with the Crushes and kicking off the beginning of November at the Beauty Bar. - Austin Sound


The self-released EP Days of Beat/Days of Hollow, from Austinites Many Birthdays is a fusion of sounds and moods, with lyrics sung in both English and Japanese. The music ranges, at any given instant, from some kind of jaunty indie-pop to darker, beat-heavy prog-rock and manages something almost unthinkable: it sounds at once shimmery and well-grounded, pretty and cynical, sexy and...humorous?
This is the band's fourth release in about as many years, and looking back, the sound is consistently eclectic (yet another seeming contradiction, but one they somehow pull off beautifully), although tighter and more focused. I've heard comparisons justly made to a plethora of artists, including Ladytron, Beck, and Cibo Matto, and would like to further confuse with the addition of Stereolab and fellow Texans Japanic (of yore, that is...from Tex Kerschen, etc., now of Indian Jewelry). A weird profusion of similarities has been suggested by various sources but, to the credit of Many Birthdays, everyone seems to hear something different in their music, and while all these potential influences can be heard, none is overbearing enough that the music feels derivative or rehashed. In other words, you're not listening to this and thinking "cover band." Many Birthdays are like auditory fusion food, and who doesn't love that?
Each of the five songs that constitute this latest effort is a unique venture, anything but interchangeable, with seemingly dissonant themes and sounds fading away only to reappear later in another song, tying everything together. Opening with a persistent tapping, the first song, "Freeway," is hypnotic lyrics sung in Japanese over simple electropop keyboard. "Days Like Turtles" is a contemplative sunny-day ramble; the vocals are sour, twangy, like the unlikely offspring of Bob Dylan and David Byrne, and imbued somehow with a slightly cynical humor, as if we hear the wry little smile they are sung through. This is set up against rich layers of lush, beautiful sounds and vocals, interspersed with unbelievably catchy electronic effects.
"Handful of Zeros" begins with a darker, sexier beat and is punctuated by a robotic countdown giving way once more to detached thoughts filtered through that cynical smile. "Black Crow" follows form, with abrupt, staccato lyrics juxtaposed with eloquently eerie warbling and a heavy pulse that flows in and out as if underwater. It's almost as if the vocals punctuate the songs like drumbeats, whilst the synthetic beat creates the flow. "Yume No Sekai" is dark, ethereal pop, like swimming at night in the ocean...with, like, a robot.
In the end, it's really quite interesting. And whether or not "interesting" alone is adequate persuasion is up to the discerning reader here, but it seems that, more often than not, this is, in fact, a rather elusive quality. Aside from this, the sound is catchy enough that it can stick in your head (for good or for evil), just brimming with Japanese cyborg lyrics, pop melodies, and other assorted electronic loveliness, yet always with an undercurrent of refreshing darkness to counteract all that sunshine. Ah, yes, a well-balanced breakfast. (Niki Onecic // 02/13/07) - Space City Rock


ATTENTION: Cool band alert!!

This is Many Birthdays, a band we saw last night at Club DeVille. The guy lead singer (he switches off with one of the ladies) sounds exactly like Frank Black from The Pixies to me, except with synthesizers/Fruity Loops for backing rather than a big ol' bass guitar.

If you have a weakness for synthesizers (me me!) then you'll dig some Many Birthdays. And what better place to hear synthesizers than Beauty Bar?? They are playing there in two weeks on November 1 - a Saturday night so pretty rad billing - and although I'm not sure who is playing with them yet I'll throw up a poster if they/Beauty Bar designs one. - That Austin Girl


If you’re like me, multi-lingual pop music kind of begins with Stereolab and ends with Stereo Total, and there’s not a whole heck of a lot in between. Part of the appeal of those bands was that they were, well, European, where everybody has to speak a whole alphabet stew anyways. “How sophisticated they are!,” you’d say, as you heard Laeticia Sadier intone communist-party slogans in French, in “French Disko.” “How funny she sounds!,” you’d go, as Francoise Cactus sang “I Love You ONO” in her silly French-German accent. And, of course, you’d also be thinking about how cosmopolitan and continental you yourself were, as you appreciated such stuff. Mais oui!

How refreshing, then, to encounter East Austin’s own multi-lingual experimental pop practitioners Many Birthdays, whose Days of Beat/Days Of Hollow EP brings it all back home, and which is a masterpiece of restraint, intelligence, and, well, musical border-crossing. Sung in a mixture of English and Japanese, Many Birthdays’ tunes are passionate and whimsical constructions of drum machine, guitar, and synthesizer, all put forward with a remarkably dark and earnest edge. Think of Bowie’s “It’s No Game,” but updated with beats and humor for the 00’s, or maybe Vangelis mixed with Cibo Matto, and you’ll get the idea. The “hit” of the EP, “Days Like Turtles,” is far more eerie than you might imagine from the title, with goofy, free-associative English lyrics, a remarkably garage-punky keyboard interlude, and a propulsive techno groove. “Handful of Zeros,” with a disembodied Japanese refrain and some New Order-ish guitar driving the whole thing, is like some unholy marriage of 80’s dance music and seventies Krautrock. “Yume no Sekai” drinks from the same well, but adds in a bit of Aphex Twin to produce a concoction that puts Euro-trash musical polymaths out to pasture.

Andrei Codrescu once said of New Orleans that the city had the main prerequisite for a decent arts scene—cheap rents. Austin’s rents are more than they should be, but the city seems to have another important requirement, which is bands with deep record collections, and with no fear of mixing and matching otherwise incompatible styles to produce something new. Something’s going on in Austin these days, no doubt, what with the continued brilliance of techno-pop instrumentalists Octopus Project, and the emergence of like-minded acts such as Many Birthdays. Maybe it’s something in the water, or maybe global warming is disrupting the earth’s temperatures just enough to cause Austin to spin on a more—how you say—“global,” axis. I don’t know, but pretty soon this town’s music is gonna sound like the goddamn United Nations, mark my words, and Many Birthdays will be Secretary General. - Austin Sound


Emptiness is Forever…I had a feeling I wouldn’t be into it. Thankfully, I’m not close minded enough to completely shun them off and I thought I would give them a second chance because 1) they’re from my home state of Texas and 2) they’re from Austin; music capital of the world. Well, this second chance afforded me the opportunity of experiencing a very unique and very catchy sound that is Many Birthdays’ combination of post-punk and electronic pop.

The EP opens with the dark and plodding “Kiki The Destroyer”. Listening to this track all the way through gave me immediate respect for this outfit. It’s dark, comical and the male/female vocals work really well together. Think of a darker version of The B-52’s. Unfortunately, they follow it up with the J-Pop “Minnawa”. For Japanese pop enthusiasts this is your song, but it was a little lost one me. “Electro Fantastic” really lives up to its name. It isn’t as high energy as its title, but it doesn’t really need to be. The mood is perfect, as it’s another fairly slow and smooth synth-rock number. . “Good Luck” is fluid and beautiful through and through, even after the more rocking elements cut into the awe inspiring beginning. It’s a perfect showcase of the attitude this band possesses, and it definitely brings out their punk elements more, not to mention the Devo inspired hooks. “Tsugi Ni Kuru Koto” is the other Japanese driven track, and this one I didn’t mind as much. In fact, the exchange of the female Japanese vocals and English speaking male vocals was quite ingenious. Dance and disco and a whole flurry of experimental electronic sounds really do wonders for the mood here. The closer, “Rock It”, is definitely another Devo inspired 80’s track through and through.

Many Birthdays has showed massive potential for great things with this, their second EP. It’s not a far cry that they will soon be making successful full length albums. After a shaky first listen I’m now I’m left wanting more - I certainly hope it’s worth it. - Delusions of Adequacy


Emptiness is Forever…I had a feeling I wouldn’t be into it. Thankfully, I’m not close minded enough to completely shun them off and I thought I would give them a second chance because 1) they’re from my home state of Texas and 2) they’re from Austin; music capital of the world. Well, this second chance afforded me the opportunity of experiencing a very unique and very catchy sound that is Many Birthdays’ combination of post-punk and electronic pop.

The EP opens with the dark and plodding “Kiki The Destroyer”. Listening to this track all the way through gave me immediate respect for this outfit. It’s dark, comical and the male/female vocals work really well together. Think of a darker version of The B-52’s. Unfortunately, they follow it up with the J-Pop “Minnawa”. For Japanese pop enthusiasts this is your song, but it was a little lost one me. “Electro Fantastic” really lives up to its name. It isn’t as high energy as its title, but it doesn’t really need to be. The mood is perfect, as it’s another fairly slow and smooth synth-rock number. . “Good Luck” is fluid and beautiful through and through, even after the more rocking elements cut into the awe inspiring beginning. It’s a perfect showcase of the attitude this band possesses, and it definitely brings out their punk elements more, not to mention the Devo inspired hooks. “Tsugi Ni Kuru Koto” is the other Japanese driven track, and this one I didn’t mind as much. In fact, the exchange of the female Japanese vocals and English speaking male vocals was quite ingenious. Dance and disco and a whole flurry of experimental electronic sounds really do wonders for the mood here. The closer, “Rock It”, is definitely another Devo inspired 80’s track through and through.

Many Birthdays has showed massive potential for great things with this, their second EP. It’s not a far cry that they will soon be making successful full length albums. After a shaky first listen I’m now I’m left wanting more - I certainly hope it’s worth it. - Delusions of Adequacy


Discography

Kagami (2017)
Message for You (2016)
Ancient Bird (2016)
3 Ghosts of Xmas (2015)
Black Mountain Blue Sea EP (2014)
Mixture of Blood and Heart (2013)
Spirit World (2012)
Love Is Insecure (2012)
Animalectric (2011)
Alphabet Hotel (2011)
You and Me (2011)
Emptiness Is Forever EP (2009)
Days of Beat / Days of Hollow EP (2006)
Sub Rapid Express (2005)


Photos

Bio

Many Birthdays is a music project that started in Osaka, Japan and continued in Austin, TX. Over the years the band has self-released multiple home-recordings, EP's and remixes, played numerous shows both local and regional, toured nationally, scored music for a full length animation film, and written and performed a live-score for a feature silent film. Many Birthdays is a unique entity that has ebbed and flowed for over a decade, but continues to strive to put art, creativity and poetry as its main focus, with a strong DIY, music-is-whatever-you-want-it-to-be ethic that ultimately has no boundaries in style or genre.

Band Members