FRI., APR. 4: BIRDS OF AVALON INTERVIEW

April 4th, 2008 | Interviews

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Birds of Avalon “Bicentennial Baby”

[audio:http://www.volcoment.com/admin/uploadFiles/Music/birdsofavalon/bicentennialbaby.mp3]

Birds of Avalon formed out of the bust-up of the Cherry Valence and recently released their Outer Upper Inner EP last month on Volcom. Drummer Scott Nurkin speaks five minutes after finishing recording a new song with Tim Green.

What do you like best about playing in a Dutch bathroom with Monotonix?
Well, we actually weren’t playing in there—but I think probably 100% of Monotonix shows are the best thing because you never know about every time they play. I’ve seen 25 shows and they’re all completely different. Ami—who is the lead singer—sort of surveys the perimeter before the shows starts and gets an idea what to do. At that show, he somehow managed to get everyone in the club in the bathroom. The night before, it was the kitchen. He knows how to work a venue. It’s generally the same things with every band—Monotonix or Black Mountain or you know—you never wanna slouch if the band you’re playing with is totally awesome. It’s like a circus every night with Monotonix. I’m never down about a show we’re gonna play with them.
What is Birds of Avalon’s never-fail crowd-killing song?
I wouldn’t be so bold as to say we never fail. But we’ll cater to whatever crowd we’re playing for. If it’s a mellow show, we might play a mellow set.
How mellow do you get?
Well, we got slower tempo songs—it’s not all bombastic. But on tour with the Fucking Champs, their crowd is definitely metallers, so we kept it lively. Sometimes we’ll play a cover here and there if we’re feeling it.
What is your most fondly regarded cover?
We haven’t done it recently but we’re covering a song by Jay Reatard.
Does he know?
I don’t know, but he’s a buddy. We talk about how neat it was back in the day when bands used to cover songs that were contemporary before they got really popular. Like Hendrix covering the Beatles or something—I’d hate to liken us to that ilk, but something instead of classic rock. Something coming out this year might be fun.
What kind of song did you just record with Tim Green?
I don’t know if I wanna reveal my cards. It’s an uptempo song that may or may not be influenced by California.
Could Jay Reatard do a worthy cover of it?
He’d probably smash it to pieces. The guy seems to turn anything he touches to gold.
How did you make sure your EP was recorded to 1967 standards?
Honestly, you got the wrong guy—I’m more or less the drummer!
Did you play a 1967 kit?
I think it probably goes into the way of the actual recording process. We recorded to four-track tape and then used some sort of arcane method that the guy who produced it—Mitch Easter—had read about. He’d never tried it, but he was excited and thought we were the best band to be guinea pigs. It was kind of laborious. We had to do a lot of stuff in one take because it wasn’t easy to fix things. But it was also kind of refreshing—keeps you on your toes. But I do play a ’71. Don’t print that.
So it’s like your drum set came from the future to help.
Ok, you can say that.
Which band prepared you better for Birds of Avalon—Guns of El Borracho or the Tim Smith band?
I was a hired gun, more or less—one is a jazz band and one is a funk/reggae mix that played weddings. I played a lot of shitty weddings. Lemme think of a romantic one. One time I played on a boat. It’s typical stuff—‘Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,’ ‘Chicken Strut,’ lots of Stax and Otis Redding stuff. I don’t think either band adequately prepared me for Birds of Avalon.
Why were you the only band member who never worked at Kings?
I’m the only one who doesn’t live in Raleigh. I live in Chapel Hill—thirty minutes away. But I certainly put my time in at Kings. They have an annual thing—the Great Cover-Up with three nights of cover bands. Birds of Avalon did Alice Cooper, Love and the Damned.
Who was hardest to rehearse?
The Damned were really tough. I wasn’t very familiar with their music, and it’s so frenetic and amazing. Short bombastic bursts of music. Lots of fun!
You’ve said ‘bombastic’ twice in ten minutes. Are you a particularly bombastic guy?
Tim Green’s used it four times in the last three days. It kind of caught me.
Did you ever see Napoleon’s death mask at the University of North Carolina?
I don’t think I’ve seen that. But I’d be quick to add that we have a vast array of wonderful musicians from our great state. Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, George Clinton, Nina Simone—and we also have the Tarheels, who you may or may not know are in the Final Four.
Do you have money on that?
I do not but the entire economy of where I live—Chapel Hill—has got some money on that.
How do you feel about South Carolina having the Lizard Man of Lee County and North Carolina having no lizard men at all?
I don’t know whether to be really happy about that or really sad about that.

BIRDS OF AVALON WITH IMAAD WASIF WITH TWO PART BEAST AND TIJUANA KNIFE FIGHT PLUS GUEST ON SUN., APRIL 6, AT ALEX’S BAR, 2913 E. ANAHEIM ST., LONG BEACH. 9 PM / $5 / 21+. ALEXSBAR.COM. AND WITH DRIVE A ON TUE., APRIL 8, AT THE KEY CLUB, 9039 W. SUNSET BLVD., LOS ANGELES. 10 PM / FREE / ALL AGES. KEYCLUB.COM. VISIT BIRDS OF AVALON AT BIRDSOFAVALON.COM.