The Music Slut


8 Questions With: Birdmonster

This afternoon, I had a great chat with Birdmonster's electrifying frontman, Peter Arcuni. Enjoy the full Q&A session below. Photograph courtesy of Greg Crane.

1. Much has been written about the band's San Fran origin but as I recently found out, you actually spent much of your childhood in Connecticut. Which do you prefer, the East coast or the West coast? Also, I have to ask, were you and Martha Stewart bosom buddies?

Me & Martha go way back! I grew up in CT, an hour away from NYC. My family is still there. Their home is about a half hour away from Martha Stewart. Not in Snobsville! It's a small town, 8000 people. I went to school in Rhode Island. After that, I moved to the West coast, it seemed like the romantic thing to do (get the hell out of the Northeast). As far as which I prefer: on paper, the West coast has it. But I also feel like the East coast is truly in my blood.

2. Your new album, From The Mountain To The Sea, features production by Tom Schick (whom has previously worked with Ryan Adams & Rufus Wainwright). How did you two meet & was he someone you were actively seeking to pair with?

When I was writing songs for the record, the songs seemed to be drawn towards a different direction than our last record (No Midnight). Basic simple songwriting. Not about the sound per se, not about the image or the attitude, simply about the songs. We needed to work with somebody who appreciated that. Someone who wasn't going to try to overdo it & make it about the production. Tom was on top of our shortlist. He's worked with some great songwriters. It just made sense. He took a lot of pressure off of us!

3. I consider From The Mountain To The Sea to be a more gentle, perhaps more passionate record than your debut LP, No Midnight. Was this an intentional shift?

We tried not to have any preconceived ideas about how the new songs were going to come out. It just made sense. The songwriting was very intimate. Initially, we used guitars & pianos. Later, it become something else. We didn't want to overdo it. At the end of the day, it's nice to go acoustic & play any one of these songs just like that. They remain in tact. We didn't purposefully try to make this one different than last album, it just felt natural.

4. Speaking of the new album, it's being released through the Fader label. What did Fader have to offer that attracted you to them?

I liked the idea of working with a label for this record. There seems to be a stigma behind working with a label but in essence, we wanted to focus on the creative stuff. We wanted someone to help with the marketing and all the business ideas. This way we have more ability to flex our creative muscles. We met the Fader folks about 3 years ago. We had a similar mindset as to where the band wanted to go and it made sense to go with them.

5. You're about to travel around the country with UK buzzers, The Rumble Strips. Do you care to share any thoughts on the band?

I didn't know much about them before we were offered the tour. Since then, I've familiarized myself with their stuff & I like it a lot. One of my favorite bands of all time is The Kinks & I was immediately drawn to them because of the comparisons. I like where they are coming from. They have some great horn arrangements melded with acoustic threads. I think it's a nice compliment to our live show.

6. I must comment on your official blog. Not only is it updated regularly but it's exciting to read and at times quite hilarious. Do you all take turns writing entries or does one person control the majority of the content?

Justin, our bass player, started it. At first, it served as a way to document our experiences, keep our families & friends in the loop. Then, it caught on. What's nice about it is that it's not just a tour log. The blog references things we talk about, inside jokes, etc. The recording process can be quite serious so it's nice to have another kind of avenue.

7. Can you kindly explain the thought process behind From The Mountain To The Sea's beautiful & intriguing cover art? I'm dying to know.

It's landscape themes. We are using landscape as a metaphor, as the title suggests. The cover has droplets filled with earth, layers of rock & water all sort of falling down. Our designer, Katrina McHugh, did a great job. She truly captured the essence of the record.

8. Lastly, I was wondering what's in store for Birdmonster as we approach the new year. Another US tour? A trip overseas? A new EP? SXSW?

A lot more touring. We're going to try to go to the UK. Nothing has been set for that. We're still in the process of figuring it all out. More songs will be released in one format or another. This time around you won't have to wait another two years for fresh tracks!

Read my review of Birdmonster's recent NYC gig here.

Visit Birdmonster on MySpace.

MP3: Birdmonster - Live On WOXY

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