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|Q & A: Cameron Bird
The Architecture in Helsinki founder and fronter avoids the straight and narrow at all costs
October 9, 2005
by Ashley Graham
It’s all goof and charm when it comes to Cameron Bird of Australian band Architecture in Helsinki. And even when the questions are straightforward, the answers still skew toward the abstract. Whether the subject is colds, oddball musical comparisons or rock clichés, Bird is on his toes and ready for anything. There’s no reason to describe the specifics of this band, because you’ll get the idea once you start reading. Without further ado, here’s a quick peak at a recent conversation that went down between Mr. Bird and me.
Cameron Bird: Hello Ashley.
Ashley Graham: Hi Cameron, how are you?
CB: Oh wonderful.
AG: I’ll apologize right now, I’ve got a cold.
CB: Quite alright, I’ve got a permanent cold myself.
AG: I had to miss your show last night. Tell me what I missed out on.
CB: Coke, fireworks, cooking, clay pigeons, you know.
AG: So you really come alive on the stage then.
CB: Oh yeah, it’s like someone stuck a firecracker up our ass.
AG: What’s the live show able to bring to the songs?
CB: A renewed sense of excitement.
AG: So obviously you enjoy that.
CB: Oh, totally.
AG: How’s the tour going?
CB: Wonderful. The reception last night was wonderful.
AG: I was reading some reviews of the last album and stumbled upon some interesting comparisons. Do you read reviews?
CB: Yes, of course.
AG: Entertainment Weekly said you were like the Muppets if the Muppets ever created music.
CB: That’s great to hear! We love the Muppets!
AG: NME says the cast of South Park doing Polyphonic Spree covers.
CB: We love South Park too!
CB: That makes getting up in the morning worthwhile.
AG: There is a strong sense of loving or hating in these reviews.
CB: We’d have it no other way, you know? No gray area.
AG: Your website says that the result of you guys coming together is “something a little bit different.” Care to elaborate?
CB: Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I don’t know. I guess that we don’t just play sugar-coated pop songs; we play sugar-coated pop songs with bunch of other shit thrown in there as well. But, you know, we’re not special or anything. But, we do come from Australia.
AG: That makes you a little different.
CB: Yes, for sure.
AG: How are you seeing things build since the release of the last album?
CB: We have to tour a lot more. We sleep a lot less. We’re getting a lot fatter.
AG: Oh no! Why is that?
CB: We have to eat American food!
AG: Are you adjusting to that though?
CB: We’re just not adjusted yet to the portion sizes!
AG: Quite large, eh?
CB: …The size of the steaks! Quite a bit larger, yes.
AG: How’s the response to the new album?
CB: People are good. None of that crazy evangelical stuff going on but it’s good. There was a guy last night yelling out “Free Bird!” and, you know, that’s okay.
AG: And did you play it?
CB: We were going to try to play Journey, but unfortunately we don’t really know it.
AG: Well you’re getting “Free Bird” at your shows, that’s the ultimate rock cliché, you know you’ve made it now.
CB: Yes, across the world, across the country. How about that?
AG: You know you’re getting big when you get that request.
CB: Oh yeah, that’s right. That’s right.
AG: How did the approach for that last album differ from previous efforts at all?
CB: We didn’t want to kill each other as much. And it was a lot colder. And it took a lot less time, which is good.
AG: The shorter the better?
CB: There’s just something about taking a long time to make an album that’s strange because, you know, once you get past a certain amount of time you may as well be doing it for twenty years. It’s just very hard at that point to let go of it.
AG: And why did it take less time?
CB: Because we wanted it to more than anything, I guess. We just gave ourselves a target.
AG: Where all have you guys played?
CB: Only the UK, US and Australia at this point, but we’re headed to exotic European locations soon. We’re also going to Malaysia!
AG: How have you seen the responses differ in different places?
CB: It’s good all over. There are always those tough cities, but in general the crowds are really responsive.
AG: Anywhere with the best response?
CB: If we mean best response, not necessarily numbers, probably Minneapolis, Minnesota.
CB: Oh yeah, something is in the water there.
AG: Are the shows all about the same size or are some getting larger?
CB: Some larger ones in New York and San Francisco and such.
AG: There are obviously a lot of people in this band. Is the line-up at this point cemented or is it a revolving door of talents?
CB: It’s definitely concrete, I’d say, with the option of, sort of, doing whatever you want.
AG: How long has this current group been together?
CB: 36 months.
AG: 36 months exactly?
CB: Yes, yes.
AG: Is songwriting a collaborative effort or just you?
CB: It’s a combination, there’s no formula. We just chuck certain things in or out. Just like making a cake, really.
AG: Yes, just like making a cake. It started with you though, right?
AG: And a few others.
AG: Do you see the collaboration changing in the future?
CB: Definitely, I think that’s important with having so many people involved.
AG: How far along are you in the process of the ultimate goals you might have for this band?
CB: I don’t know if we’re really about goals, people are more just about the here and now. So far the musical journey is still in the beginning stages, people are still just learning their instruments and how to write songs really. It’s exciting!
AG: You’ve been compared to acts like The Arcade Fire. Do you aspire to that level of success or just do your own thing?
CB: We do our thing. Arcade Fire, that’s a great band. Very good bands are successful for a reason. We’d like to be very good.
AG: There’s a goal!
AG: Thanks for taking the time to talk, Cameron. Good luck on the rest of the tour.
CB: Oh thank you! And thank you!
Intrigued? Head to www.architectureinhelsinki.com for more.