Sick Sick Birds

Sick Sick Birds

BandAlternative

Sick Sick Birds distill the essence of mature pop into the bittersweet and pensive melodies and understated aggression that fuel their songs. Early ‘80s indie pop, late ‘90s fireworks, late ‘00s recession-enforced honesty. Blood’s pumping through decades of music effortlessly in each song.

Biography

from Baltimore City Paper:
http://www.citypaper.com/music/review.asp?rid=15422

Punk-Drunk Love
Migrating from the hard-touring Thumbs into the Sick Sick Birds

By Michael Byrne | Posted 11/4/2009

"Something about a pint glass breaking always makes your night go better," sings Sick Sick Birds frontman Mike Hall in pop-punk's signature could-yell-if-I-want-to sing-song. That's the introduction to SSB's debut full-length, Heavy Manners (Toxic Pop)--a wicked-fun, eight-song pop-punk romp that nicely straddles the line between basement-show punk spit and bark and grown-up hooks and melodies. Listening, the image that comes up is a sweaty-as-hell Sidebar, or, hell, Memory Lane--everything is jostling and confusing. Maybe it still has that humid cigarette-flavored skeen. Maybe there's a fight. In any case, you just know that at that point someone's riding enough of a buzz to break a glass of something cheap on the floor. You have, quite possibly, seen this scene, almost exactly.

The line above conjures a sense of nostalgia. "Let's have a round for the truest kind of mania," the song continues later, and you know it's talking about the punk club, the show, the frenzy of a crowded room in front of a very loud, snarling band. It feels almost like an homage.

Sick Sick Birds are a relatively new band in Baltimore, starting out in the earlier part of this decade in the wake of the Thumbs--a punk band that included Hall and SSB's guitarist Bobby Borte--which started in 1995 and became local legends before disbanding in 2003. "I'd been in a band pretty much every day of my life for 15 years or so," Hall says, talking about the Thumbs' end. "I think I took it for granted that I had this perfect ready-made channel where I could focus my creative energies. When that was gone, I really felt a little lost.

"I think that the personality of our band was so focused on the idea of being a hard-working touring band," Hall continues. "And, eventually, it just became too hard to keep it up. We were ready to do some other things with our lives, and without the constant touring, the Thumbs just didn't quite make sense."

Which is another way of saying Hall and company have grown up, at least insofar as punk rockers can grow up. And it's really easy for punk bands to fuck up growing up. If you haven't seen the New York Dolls recently, there's still a slight chance you think they're not, like, the saddest live band on the planet. Sick Sick Birds--Borte, Hall, drummer Lee Blades, bassist Melissa Jacobsen, and guitarist Eric Jacobsen --rather, have taken their years to heart, ventured into new songwriting ideas, and, vitally, realized that the touring lifestyle isn't a bottomless proposition.

"I think we have been really lucky to find great people to play with who are also at a similar point in their lives," Hall says. "I think we all take the band seriously but, at the same time, we respect the value of each other's time. It also definitely helps to have spouses who understand how important writing and playing music is to us and go out of their way to support our ability to keep doing it.

"Our days of getting in the van for six to eight weeks at a time are certainly over. But I could see us doing a few shorter tours here and there. It would be more of a vacation/tour with all of our spouses, going to places that we would all like to visit."

The band's touring ambitions may be toned down, but the music isn't. The uneasy, blasted edges, though, aren't there so much. SSB songs are cleaner; guitars jangle, a chorus or guitarscape hovers in the background, lyrics are sung rather than scraped out and flung--it's frequently political and pissed pop-punk music that blows kisses to the Clash but just as much to old '70s garage bands. Daresay, Heavy Manners delivers more than a few bona fide earworms.

"I think the presentation has changed, but the songs are actually pretty similar," Hall says. "It's funny, when I wrote for the Thumbs, in my head I was always writing something that sounded kind of like a Cure or Smiths song. You write it on the acoustic and then you get it in the practice room and bang away at it with loud drums and half stacks and vocals to match, and all of a sudden it's a completely different thing. Me and Bobby always thought we were crooning and melodic, and it always came out more pissed-off and aggressive."

That's not the case now. "I think the Sick Sick Birds take more of a song-by-song approach," he says. "Strip a song down to nothing, and then build it back piece by piece by feeding it what it needs to reach its potential. And don't be afraid if each song has a completely different sound. No touring means we have no deadlines on recording. We take our time and get it the way we want it. You put a song out there and it's out there. You can't pull it back."

The Thumbs headed down to what's promised to be a brief reunion at a mammoth pop-punk festival known just as the Fe

Lyrics

Buildings

Written By: Sick Sick Birds

something about a pint glass breaking always makes your night go better; super-city face on the cover; a quick strike for a smart-ass stutter; tired shock from the last-ditch rockers; stock photos and broken deals; brash plans from late night talkers and beds made from bad ideas.

let's have a round for the truest kind of mania; You throw it down to bring it back - it's all in vain.

your resignation tendered, risen up the bottleneck; sell your blood & you're a lifelong member; whatever was, of course, has been; beyond ripe and into rotten; it's a hard sell but you've got all day; pretend you can't remember names.

and it's your chance to unload; this building's not to code; they're biding their time but they just keep you on.

something about a pint glass breaking always makes your night go better;
big city face on the cover; a quick strike for a smart-ass stutter; tired shock from the last-ditch rockers; stock photos and broken deals; a passing wave for the mild and the sane; convince the room you can't explain.

let's have a round for the truest kind of mania; you throw it down to bring it back - it's all in vain; and it's your chance to unload; this building's not to code; they're biding their time and they'll just keep you on; and you're on until you're gone; you're always on, and you're on until you're gone.

I Laid it Down

Written By: Sick Sick Birds

I LAID IT DOWN

took to the city like the wolves in the fables
a natural sinner? well it all depends
caught staring at the clock on the wall
to note the time of death

just pack your bags so i know you've left

someone saw you doing lines at the window tables
you are getting faster every day
it's a modern world
but somehow still spaghetti western

unpack your bags so i know you'll stay

missing information ban
like only your
loneliness can
on again off again(laundry lists)
off again to your go to man(a spear in the chest)

one more chance or another all-nighter
we salute you brave bullfighter

pass each other as the sun is coming up
there will always be something
even if its not enough

when you i laid it down
i thought one more sad sad song

just pack you backs so i know your gone

Discography

Record streaming: http://www.vinylcollective.com/2009/10/14/stream-sick-sick-birds-heavy-manners/ ;
Sick Sick Birds "Heavy Manners" LP, 2009, Toxic Pop Records;
Sick Sick Birds "Chemical Trains" ep 7", 2007 Toxic Pop Records; Sick Sick Birds/Vena Cava split 7", A.D.D. Records 2006.

Set List

8-9 songs, typically all originals, maybe an old new wave cover (Smiths, Wire, Mission of Burma, Chameleons).

Typical Set List:
Buildings
I Laid it Down
Little Champ
Pick and Choose
Second to Last
Committees (Need a Champion)
Power Plant
Your Machine