Exclusive: Brendan Kelly (the Lawrence Arms) on his new band, Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds
Altpress.com is happy to exclusively reveal some details surrounding the Lawrence Arms bassist/vocalist Brendan Kelly's latest project, Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds. The group has wrapped work on a full-length, which will be released in February via Red Scare. A three-song digital EP, A Man With The Passion Of Tennessee Williams, will precede it on December 27.
When we asked Kelly for a statement on the project, he wrote an essay, as he is wont to do. Check out the details below!
"The impetus for this project was brought about in no small part because I felt like after the last two Lawrence Arms records (2006's Oh! Calcutta! and 2009' Buttsweat And Tears) I had done that particular iteration of punk rock about as well as I’d ever be able to do it. I’m not suggesting that those albums are perfect or even mind-blowing, but they’re the best of that style that I could personally do. I felt pretty satisfied with them, and that satisfaction in turn really stymied my creativity.
After Buttsweat And Tears came out I didn’t really feel like I had any ideas for any new songs, or at least nothing that seemed interesting to me. I also didn’t have a lot of time because I was suddenly a dad. After a while, I started to get really antsy to create something new and different, but I had no direction. I remembered an old interview with Billie Joe Armstrong that I read in like ’99 where he said something to the effect of, "When a song’s lyrics make me nervous, when I’m kind of apprehensive to show people, those usually end up being the songs that turn out the best, the ones that are the result of me stepping out of my comfort zone." This resonated with me at the time because I had felt so in my comfort zone with the last two Lawrence Arms records that I couldn’t figure out where else to go, creatively.
SO, I decided to start writing songs that made me nervous. I wrote words that came from a much darker place than before, and songs about things that are usually not the subjects of punk rock songs. This record isn’t an autobiographical one, it’s more of an exploration of some fucked up situations and mental states. Lots of these songs are about feeling pretty trapped and caged and the way that the human brain twists and warps when it can’t do what it wants. That’s where all sorts of fucked up crime and deviance comes from and that’s kind of what this record is exploring, content-wise.
As far as the music, I tried to do stuff that was still familiar enough to me that I’d be adept at putting it together, but different enough that I’d still be nervous about the sound. I play most of the instruments on this thing, but I got some really spectacular musicians and producers from non-punk rock backgrounds to help me flesh out the ideas and take it to places I couldn’t have conceptualized myself. The main core of the Wandering Birds is myself, my oldest collaborative partner in the world, Nick Martin (we made our first demo when we were eleven) playing almost everything else, and producers Eric Halborg and Shawn Astrom who are a classic rock/hippy/Smiths fan and a Euro dance music producer respectively. The results, I think, are different enough that there’s no question that it’s not the Lawrence Arms, but my personality and style are still undoubtedly in there. I have a feeling it’s gonna be pretty polarizing. There will definitely be people who hate it or don’t get the lyrics and either find it to be offensively childish or who just don’t get what I’m trying to do.The music also gets pretty weird here and there. Fuck, maybe I totally misstepped with this shit. Who knows? All I know is I’m a little nervous about it and that excites me.
Oh, the first single ("A Man With The Passion Of Tennessee Williams") is loosely based on the cult surrounding Tommy Wiseau’s The Room and the general post-ironic culture drain that I feel like everyone is wallowing in right now. Erm…that’s all. Enjoy."