If you haven’t lived in one yourself, you probably know a place like it: an infamously overpopulated house with a revolving door of denizens that, despite its often derelict appearance, bears nostalgic charms.
The Birdhaus in Nanaimo, BC is such a dwelling—and the namesake of the new EP from Gold and Shadow. As the EP’s writing process drew to a close, the Nanaimo-based art-rock group was searching for a common thread within its lyrics. What struck the band members instead was the realization that all of the songs had been written, developed and jammed out in the Birdhaus—as it had been dubbed by its residents.
“It’s just kind of the classic a bunch of guys living in a house. It’s disgusting,” vocalist Dane Letourneau says, somewhat affectionately. “But we thought that was kind of hilarious and quirky, so we sort of rolled with it.”
The homage to the Birdhaus extends to the album’s visuals, courtesy of newly added touring synth player Matt Lineker. He created an illustrated booklet commemorating different events throughout the house’s sordid history, from the usual messy kitchen scenes to a fire on the deck.
“We jammed in various locations in the house. At one point, it was in the middle of summer, and the jam space had moved up from the basement to the attic. It was this big, old attic and its namesake was these birds that were living right in the middle of that attic that would make this very loud sound when they all went from place to place,” Letourneau recalls, when asked about any stand-out memories. “So we would all rehearse up there and it was just so hot … because there were no windows you could really open. But then we would go outside and have beers on the roof, because you could get onto the roof of this house. … It had its upsides, but it was one of those places you feel conflicted about: I would love a nice jam space, but it’s free.”
Birdhaus, the follow-up to Gold and Shadow’s acclaimed debut, Torch, was intended to be a condensed listening experience that would follow a cohesive structure while exploring some new sounds—namely synths, in this case, creating atmospheric, dynamic soundscapes. Letourneau notes that many of the band’s previous songs were quite lengthy, and he wanted to experiment with writing tracks under four minutes long. The idea was met with some resistance at first, but everyone got on board eventually.
“Try to say what we want to say in under four minutes, and that wasn’t very popular at first. But I think people eventually wanted that anyway, because we were kind of tired of doing the seven-minute, prog-rock sort of thing,” he explains. “Even as a listener I started to lean away from that sort of thing. It was like, ‘OK, if you can’t say what you want to say in under four minutes, is it worth the extra time?'”
Thu, Jun 23 (8 pm)
With Twilight Choir