buzz: The new album Birds sounds like a natural progression from your previous band Pele. How was the writing process different for Birds than previous Bees albums which tend to center more to experimentalism?
Jon Mueller: For the most part, it’s different people. But also, we’ve always had different ideas for Bees’ music compared to Pele, so it’s always been a different approach from the beginning.
Chris Rosenau: Birds is both; a natural progression from Pele as well as a record developed out of experimentalism. After Pele, over a period of maybe three of four years, our live Bees set naturally, without intention, built up to the frenetic density is it now, which is what is documented on Birds. All of the past Bees records were snapshots of ideas we had at a finite time. Birds is the documentation of the end point of three of four years of these same songs played in the crucible of live performance and rehearsal. That’s what different; Birds is like a Pele record that has been de-constructed to its essentials, and as Jon said, augmented by the current great players that we are fortunate enough to play with.
Tom Wincek: I think this album is still very experimental, we’re just experimenting with different things this time; namely, how to create a dynamic and captivating performance meant for a live setting while stripping things down to their most basic elements and building texture and pattern upon that.
buzz: Your previous full-length was built around an elaborate themed concept of hospitals, fun, and funerals. Is there a similar concept behind the new album?
Jon Mueller: Hospitals, fun, and funerals will likely be involved in everything, always, in general.
Chris Rosenau: Ha! Yes. True. Birds really isn’t a concept album though, any more than Customer was. We just, as always, identified words that perhaps describe, for us, the music and extraneous insanity contained therein at the specific time it was necessary to “call something something.”
Jim Schoenecker: That… and our obvious connection to the Red-Footed Boobie.
buzz: How did the tour with Bon Iver come about?
Chris Rosenau: We have been good friends with Justin (Vernon) since we toured with DeYarmond Edison (1/4 Justin, 3/4 the current personnel in MegaFaun. . .another insanely amazing band). We take every opportunity we can possibly take to play, and, on tour, hang around with good friends’ bands. We actually have a record with Justin coming out later this year that features collaborations between us for the same reasons. We’re both in love with each other. It’s really that simple.
Tom Wincek: I’ve been friends with Justin, and Brad, Joe and Phil from Megafaun since living in Eau Claire, and It’s really exciting that we’re still able to hang out and play music together.
buzz: Do you still keep in touch with Polyvinyl?
Jon Mueller: Of course. They’re some of the nicest people we’ve worked with and they’ve done a lot to help our music out. We’ll always keep in touch with them.
buzz: How was SXSW?
Jon Mueller: Really great. For our first time being there, it was a lot of fun, and also great to play on the Table of the Elements showcase with many of our label mates. A fun time was had by all. TotE is already thinking of ideas to make next year’s even better.
Jim Schoenecker: We all had a blast – it was so awesome to see everyone play at the Table of the Elements showcase. The venue, audience and everthing else was perfect. Hopefully we will get to do it again next year!
Tom Wincek: Slaraffenland was amazing.