Birds in Row are without a doubt one of the most hard-working European bands. They’ve spent the past few years relentlessly touring the world, they got signed on Deathwish Inc., but what’s most important, they managed to retain their uncompromising DIY ethics and attitude. This allows them to experience and observe the hardcore scene from a very interesting perspective and catching them in Sofia, during a show For The Kids Booking set up for them, I couldn’t really help myself interviewing all three of them. Thanks to Ivaylo Totev for capturing some precious moments from the show on his camera.
Hello, can you start by introducing the band to our readers and tell us about your current tour.
We are a band called Birds in Row. We come from Laval, France. We’ve been on tour for 10 days now, it is the first part of the tour supporting our new record “Personal War”. It is not the first time we come to Bulgaria, we already played two shows here two or three years ago. Although it’s our first time in Sofia, we played Varna and Plovdiv back then. We don’t talk for ourselves as individuals; we talk as Birds in Row and we don’t introduce ourselves as individuals.
The terrorist attacks in Paris have happened few days ago, while you were on tour. How does all this affect you before you go back home and what kind of feedback do you have so far, did you talk with your family or friends about this?
We’d say that everybody in the band was really shocked. We are far away from home and it’s hard to overcome such kind of moments when you’re not with your friends and families. When we’ve heard about this we were playing in Vienna and we were really really scared for our friends. The show (in Bataclan concert hall) was a show where a lot of our friends could have been, and we know that some were there and they were at least really shocked and this is something that maybe they will never forget. It’s really hard to be far away from them and see them losing friends, looking for friends and we can’t do anything, so this is very hard.
I saw the post on your facebook page that one of your shows in Poland happened to coincident with the National Day when there’s an annual Neo-Nazi demonstration in the country and some people got scared to come to your show, while all these fascists were marching on the streets. The extreme right is on the rise in Europe and now with Bataclan the backlash against the refugees and Muslims is even bigger in France, how about the situation in your hometown? How can we, as a DIY hardcore punk community and activists in support of refugees, can deal with such an extreme situation and violence? How can we make it possible to be nice to each other?
You already said it, be nice to each other. The extreme right wing in our hometown, the far right politicians let’s say are extremely stupid, they are making fools of themselves when they are doing interviews and talk in public, so we think they are not a big threat. We think the big threat everywhere, not only in France, is the ordinary people starting to have this kind of reactionary ideas, because the media and everything else around pushes the rhetoric of hate towards certain communities or maybe the idea to be very selfish. Sometimes the only thing that we would like people to do is to think, of course to try to be nice to each other and try to understand each other’s positions. Like right now, when some people blame the refugees for the terrorist attacks – you just don’t get it, you don’t understand where those people come from and you make the most ridiculous move by blaming them. It seems that these extreme right wing and xenophobic ideas have roots in the lack of information, a lack of reflection most of the time. So maybe, in our Western countries we need more social workers (education, healthcare, etc.) and not police, because if you want to eradicate some problem you need to go to its roots (the answer is bettering the social conditions, not more police and security). Now we tend to have more cops than social workers when we should have more people who work on the roots of the problem.
What about the lyrics and the message that you are bringing with your music? You’ve just released your new record “Personal War”, what did you change music- and lyricwise compared to your previous endeavours? And do you think such events as the terrorist attacks in Paris affect your music and lyrics as well?
The new record is somehow different in its message because while “You, Me & The Violence” was about the relationship with people and how taking certain choices will affect your relationship with friends or people outside, this new record is like a conclusion, let’s say it’s still very hard and we are at a certain point where it will be easier to give up on everything you believe in to, because sometimes you feel tired of making efforts in your life, but this record is based on the message that you should always hold on to your passion or anything that really lights the flame in you. So that’s the main difference, it’s just a different angle, I guess, because we’ve always talked about basically the same things, like how people should have more passion in their life and we’ve always had the same topics. But what we also like in the lyrics is that we try to make them very open, so people could interpret them and adjust them with their own lives. We want them to make their own stories with our lyrics, we don’t want to guide anybody into one direction.
How do you look at the band, like being a DIY band but releasing your records on Deathwish?
Deathwish is not a big label. (laughing)
But you have much bigger fanbase now than before. Now you have fans, DIY bands don’t have fans.
Yeah. (laughing) It doesn’t change anything to us, we are still the same band, we are still the same three people. We come from a small town and when we come home we are no one. Here in Sofia tonight maybe 50 people will come to see us and that’s a lot. But when we come home we don’t have 50 people following us. So, being in a band, being on certain label, should never be changing anything in your life, you know what I mean?
Is there anything interesting in the scene in your hometown that you can share with us?
We have no more venues to organize shows. In our town there is a proper venue for indie stuff, it is doing good work. But it’s hard for us, because we don’t have a proper space for our shows anymore and there are a lot of new bands coming up and our bass player’s brother, Amaury, has a recording studio and all of our friends record with him. So they discover our town Laval because of him and that’s cool because we could see that there are so many DIY hardcore punk bands in France right now. So in our part we see there’s a lot of bands and that’s cool.
So what do you think we, the kids from the DIY hardcore punk scene, could do to make things better?
Maybe talking, sharing everything and try to be nice to each other. To be respectful and not oppress each other. Like if you’re on tour and you have some money but there’s another band on tour and they don’t have enough money, maybe you can share a bit of yours. Like just we’re trying to be altogether and try to find the solution how to be all comfortable in what we’re doing. And it goes even if it’s not the exact style of music. We should try to make a difference in all that extreme styles of we don’t know what… it’s bullshit, probably. (laughing)
Anything you want to add? Some message to whoever likes your music?
Thank you for the interview and for the food. (laughing) The food was amazing. As we said before, it’s very hard to be far away from home in these circumstances, but it’s also very cool to make some friends and see so nice people every night. To feel welcome in places you don’t know. Thanks for that.
Sofia, November 16, 2015
All photos by Ivaylo Totev