To those of you who have been keeping up on the phenomenally aggressive music scene we have here in the Bay Area, you're well acquainted with indie-pop meets country locals, Birds & Batteries. They first popped up on our radar when we featured them in our 2008 Hot 20 Under 40. Even then, we just knew they were going places. They've kept rather quiet since their last release, I'll Never Sleep Again in 2007, but there's nothing silent at all about their latest EP Up To No Good. It's something singer/songwriter, Mike Sempert calls a "spooky, funky adventure." Quite clear off the bat is that this foursome has definitely been listening to a heavy dose of Bowie (but really can you ever listen to too much Bowie?), also cited as an influence on this EP, P-Funk and John Carpenter films. Up To No Good is a very pleasant departure from their previously boppy alt-country tunes that delves deep into the realms of experimental electronic, weaving the most intriguing and intricate musical combinations orchestrating Sempert's gorgeous vocals on top of meticulously placed arrangements. The result? A fascinating masterpiece that can only be created from true artists who have mastered their craft. Don't believe us? Have a sneak peek at these new tracks off, Up To No Good, below.
Still curious about the new directions of the album? We chatted with Birds & Batteries for a quick rundown on Up To No Good.
Julie Dyer: Why the totally different direction on this EP
Mike Sempert of Birds & Batteries: The EP format allowed for some creative freedom. "The Villain" and "Out In The Woods" were part of a larger batch of songs, and I noticed a story forming between those two - a cohesive sound. I started writing other songs relating to those two ("Lonely Guns" and "Sneaky Times"). "The Lightning" rehash was just something I've always wanted to do and it fit with the textures of the Up To No Good.
JD: What made you so gloomy from your last album to now?
MS: Haha. Well, I think Up To No Good has a spirit of fun and tongue-in-cheek that I'll Never Sleep Again doesn't. But it's dealing with some bleak stuff. What can I say, shit in the world is fucked up, here's some funky jams.
JD: What's your favorite of the new tracks and why?
MS: There are moments in each song that are my favorites. The instrumental outros for "The Villain", "Out In The Woods" and "Lightning" all still feel really good when I hear them. So I guess, whenever I'm not singing. Hmm. . .
JD: Why did you decide to play a double set for your album release party?
MS: We've just been developing a book of music we love over the years, and there are certain things we've always wanted to do that the double-set allows for. For example, playing the EP straight through, doing a dance version of "The Great Director" and a country version of "After A Flood," having strings and brass etc. It also gave us an excuse to work really hard.
JD: What's your future tour schedule look like?
MS: We've got tour plans for spring and summer. We plan to play a lot of shows in 2010.
Interested in seeing this masterpiece come to life? Lucky for you we've got a pair of tickets to the album release show on 11/8 at Café Du Nord with your name on it. Birds & Batteries will be playing a double set, yes you read that right, a double set (Telegraph Canyon will also be opening) and all you have to do is tell us which new track you like best and why in the comments section. It's as simple as that.