Working in this industry, I encounter hundreds of bands a year, and many of them grab my attention as time goes on. Every so often there are a few bands that stick with me, where I become a true fan and supporter. This time around, I am referring to a band called Those Mockingbirds. I have gotten to know them on a personal and professional level over the past few years, and they are one of the hardest working groups in the business. With a new album on its way, tour dates to look forward to and many accomplishments under their belts, 2014 is certainly their year. I recently had the chance to chat with the band about everything that is going on these days. Check it out below:
2014 has been a great year for you guys so far. Where would you say you are at in your careers compared to a year ago?
Adam Bird (vocalist/guitarist): Compared to last year, we were kind of still settling in to where we were as a band. This past year was the first time that we really became Those Mockingbirds. We defined who we are as a band, what we want to sound like, and more. See, with us, we don’t go to shows to party the whole night; we treat this like it’s our job, for it is. We try and step up our game every time, look what faults we had in the past, and fix them for the future. I really feel that’s helped us grow a lot compared to last year to help us get to where we are.
Kevin Walters (drummer): I agree. It’s the effect that it’s like any relationship: You’re getting to know people and you’re picking up on people’s strengths and weaknesses. The whole idea is to grow and get better, and that’s what we’ve done. I can see forward motion in the process.
I want to talk about a major achievement that happened to you all this year as well: Your music video for “How To Rob A Bank” made it to MTV! Can you tell us a little bit about how that happened?
Rob Fitzgerald (bassist/vocalist): Well, we had an existing relationship with some people up there, we showed them the video, and they took a liking to it. We had seen the mtvU Freshmen Contest. If you’re not familiar, people have to vote for it. The cool thing about it is you can vote as much as you want, and if you [win], the video gets put into regular rotation. We were up against some good bands in that round—groups like Red Fang—so it was really awesome that we won. We normally don’t like to push people to vote for things, but this was something different.
Now, I’m sure it benefited you all on a personal level. Seeing your video on MTV had to have filled some musical bucket lists for you all. But how did it benefit you all professionally?
KW: Oh definitely, it went above and beyond our expectations; we got a crazy response to it. From all other perspectives, it helped a lot. I mean, think of it this way: If you’re trying to book a tour and you’re hitting markets where people don’t know you, they see those stats on your resume, they take a deeper look at you.
Tory Anne Daines (vocalist): It totally gives you a different level of validation when you see your video on MTV.
AB: I agree, it was cool as hell to see that happen. It was some dream-come-true kind of stuff. Cool story, actually: When we were out on the road, we had a couple of different spots where people came up to us and knew who we were because of it! One example: In D.C., a guy came up to us and said, “No offense at all, but I was going to leave. But you guys started with that song and I remembered it from MTV, so I decided to stay.” That’s the kind of stuff you think about, makes it all worth it.
Let’s talk a little bit about the new record, Penny The Dreadful, which was released July 1. Can you tell me a little bit about the recording/writing process?
AB: We are all so excited about it. This was the first time we were all writing a record together, and we wanted to be very varied with it. I had this insane concept of the record about this relationship that this girl named Penny had with the devil. She ended up becoming far more powerful than him, and that’s why she’s Penny The Dreadful. This was the first project we went into all together.
KW: The first EP we went in, the songs kind of had their style and personality already. With this, everybody in the band had an opportunity to really contribute! When it comes to writing, nothing is sacred, and this was the first time we had done that. We learned about each other a lot more, personally and professionally.
AB: We moved up to New Hampshire for about a month, and we were working at a studio called The Wild Arctic. We had a great time working with them in the past, so it made sense. It seemed like a good idea to completely escape from our lives for a minute. We went up there, hung out, wrote, and watched a lot of Metallica…a lot of Metallica.
You guys released a few singles to lead up to the release of the record. What made you decide to do so? Best reaction?
KW/AB: It was definitely “How To Rob A Bank.” We’re going to be releasing another single called “Model Myself,” which will be out by the time this interview comes out. We’re really excited to see how this one goes over.
Would you say this album is familiar territory for Those Mockingbirds fans? Or is the sound and style completely new?
TD: I would say the style is completely new; the progression that we [made] with the band shows, for sure. There is a lot of complexity. They are similar tracks, romantically charged, and it all goes back to the Penny story too, with heartbreak. People who like our previous recordings will see tremendous growth on this one.
KW: It’s a larger group of songs. I think there is more variety, and we’re not hitting people over the head with the same style of song back to back. There is more variability than any other group of songs we’ve ever recorded. I hope that’s exciting for people. There is something new on every track.
Will there be another video on this record?
AB: Yes! We’re kicking around ideas already for what we’re going to do next; it’s just a matter of finishing those ideas. We’re doing a million things at once right now, but we’re thinking it will either be for “Model Myself” or “Teenage Fantasies.”
You will be hitting the road soon with the new music. Any ideas of where you are stopping?
RF: We will be hitting Pittsburgh, Buffalo, New England, Washington D.C., and hopefully more. We are trying to hit get back to places we’ve been, hit some familiar territory. We want to keep a tighter circle, build a solid fanbase.
And a record release show on July 12. Where will this be and what can fans expect?
AB: That will all be going down at Backroom Studios in Rockaway. It’s basically going to be a small, sweaty, little show; we are playing with all of our friends. Who knows, maybe there will be some surprises. We could play the record from front to back.
A year from now, where do you hope to see your band?
TD: We’d be hoping to have another album out, maybe expand/explore a little bit further, continue the progression we’re on!
AB: I’d say keep writing great songs, making the songs better and better. That’s what it’s about for me; it’s about songwriting, writing a better song than I wrote six months ago. Progress, it’s all about growing. We’ve noticed the reaction to the band at live shows; it’s been evolving and growing. I think we’re playing better songs, too. I’m excited to see where that will take us. You can’t predict where that threshold is, however, we always set goals for ourselves.
KW: I agree. My brother [Kyle] joined the band on guitar. While we haven’t gotten to the depths of nitpicking, we’ve been writing a lot. Even though we’re focused on the record that’s coming out, it’s kind of cool not knowing what some of those next things are. It’s exciting.
Those Mockingbirds’ new album, Penny The Dreadful, is available now. They will be playing a record release show at Backroom Studios in Rockaway, NJ on July 12. For more information, go to thosemockingbirds.com.