Birds of Tokyo are set to rock Seafront Oval

Birds of Tokyo are set to rock Seafront Oval

By Kim Parnell

Popular Australian rock band Birds of Tokyo has been performing around the country and overseas for what will be their twentieth year this year. Much to the delight of their legion of fans, come March the band will be performing at Seafront Oval in Hervey Bay, Queensland as part of the SummerSalt concert series.

Charismatic lead vocalist Ian Kenny took some time out of his busy schedule to chat with us about touring, collaborations, music, and their much-anticipated upcoming performance.

This year marks twenty years in the business. What does this feel like?

To be honest, it feels pretty amazing. When you join a band, you think you’re going to have the best five or six years of your life and go out and party, tour, experience the world and just kick ass and have the best time for a while. No one expects it to last. Certainly, at the time we didn’t know that it could. Most of the bands that we followed then blew up at some point so the fact that we are here twenty years on it is incredible.

Your last album “Human Design” was released in April 2020 and is your sixth studio album. Are there any specific themes or messages that you aimed to convey through this album?

I had experienced a heavy relationship breakup and the aftermath of that was a bit of a reset for me. I was lucky enough to have the language and the word of music to express a lot of different emotions through that. There was a lot of hurt, a lot of rebuilding, and a lot of rejoicing and getting through a lot of things. It was a tough, record to make.  

I don’t often expose myself like that, but when you find yourself in a place like that the only way, you’re going to be able to accept it is just to be honest and try and find your way through it. As a band, what we have as our best communication is music so inevitably it will come out there. That is very much our therapy.

Birds of Tokyo – Photo by Kane Hibberd

Birds of Tokyo has collaborated with various artists. What do you enjoy most about working with other musicians and who have you worked with?

The experience is always incredible. In 2016 we did a feature with Hayley Mary; she was the lead singer of The Jezabels and is an incredible songwriter and vocalist. She sang on a track of our 2016 release “Brace.”

In late 2021 we released a single called “Superglue” with Stand Atlantic’s Bonnie Fraser.  We’ve always been such a boy’s rock n roll band, so, whenever we get a chance to work with any female artists in any capacity, especially with singers, they bring such a beautiful space to our music and dress it up in a different way. It always turns out spectacular.

We have also worked with some insanely good producers who have worked on some of the biggest records in the world. They are often worth every minute you spend with them because they will be able to shape your idea or take you to another level. Either way, the outcome is usually something you just didn’t know was coming and you always get great results.

Over the years, Birds of Tokyo’s sound has evolved. How do you see the band’s musical journey and growth from your early days to now?

The sound has changed a hell of a lot. When we first started, we were eager songwriters, completely and madly in love with music (we still are if I am being honest). These days though we understand more about who we are as people. We also understand who we are as artists and probably take what we do far more seriously now than we did in the beginning.

We were lucky. A few things connected at the radio stations that snowballed into us touring, then that snowballed into a now twenty-year career. These days the stakes are a little higher. I think back then we just wanted it all, and now we have so much more than we ever expected, and we hold value in it and love what we do even more.

What challenges and opportunities have you encountered as a band, and how have these experiences shaped your music?

I think that’s what makes your music. We share such close quarters and have been through so much together, even just being on tour and making that work is huge. Managing the band relationships, being away from family for months and months at a time overseas or in a recording studio, and an ever-changing industry. All of this comes at its own cost. A lot of bands don’t survive that. But yeah, we have been through a hell of a lot, and we are still here.

Birds of Tokyo – Photo by Kane Hibberd

Last year, Birds of Tokyo teamed up with Australia’s symphony orchestras. How different was it for you vocally?

It was incredible, but a bit of a head game, Kim. There are times when there are so many parts. When we played with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra there were thirty-eight parts to the orchestra, it was just huge. There are a lot of emotional highs, and you are part of the ride.

Then there are moments when the orchestra will completely drop out to a minimum and it is just me and my voice and I feel completely exposed. So, you kind of have to wrestle with that a bit. Just playing in our rock band format, if I am not feeling that great, I have a lot of places to hide but in an orchestra, you can hear every single note I sing. But I must admit I welcomed the challenge in this brand-new space. It was wonderful.

Have you performed on the Fraser Coast before?

No, although I have been up to Hervey Bay and been whale-watching. The band has also been to Teewah Beach on a writing trip about four years ago and hired a house and a couple of four-wheel drives. We had a great time.

How much are you looking forward to SummerSalt?

We can’t wait. We have done some SummerSalts before. There is such an incredible energy happening. People are back together and out in full swing. They have a real appreciation for Aussie music.

It is truly wonderful being back on stage and being able to play at these outdoor big festivals where people are having a good time.

 Is there anything else that you would like to share with us?

We are excited as Birds of Tokyo have put out a new single called ‘Lion’ which we are now touring. We played it for the first time in Perth, it’s so much fun and people are having a great time with it. We are looking forward to dropping that one.  

Birds of Tokyo is the only artist in history to win “Rock Work Of The Year” on five separate occasions at the APRA Awards.

Other artists performing are Missy Higgins, The Cat Empire, The Waifs, Hollow Coves, and Betty Taylor.


Saturday, March 9

Seafront Oval, Hervey Bay, Qld

Tickets are available from via Ticketmaster.

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