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It’s Birds to Play 123 Pleasant St. March 1

By Staff | Feb 29, 2008

Despite the young collective age of It’s Birds and the fact they live in area of the country that isn’t exactly the epicenter of culture, this Morgantown band could be considered a supergroup of sorts.

Each of its members have been in other bands, some more than one. As for drummer Jim Rita and guitarist Andrew Slater, this love affair has yet to end. Both continue to write and perform in other bands, which is ironic due to It’s Birds recent surge of success at 123 Pleasant St. Why not funnel all of your inspiration into one copious and oh-so-lovely progressive quartet?

They are most commonly linked to post-hardcore stalwarts Fugazi and Drive Like Jehu, two bands that had a go of it in the ’90s, with a varied level of success.

Singer/guitarist/founding member Brian Spragg sat down with Graffiti to explain the frivolities and rewards of staying on the radar in a town that is not known for its progressive “math-rock” leanings.

Graffiti: When you guys first got together, what was the direction you wanted to take the music, and did it turn out anything like you hoped?

Brian Spragg: Since coming together as a full band, the direction we have gone far exceeds my expectations. Things just clicked at our very first actual practice. I had the opportunity to show Andrew and Jim the songs separately and hear the parts before being combined, and then the day we played together, I was extremely excited.

Graffiti: Andrew and Jim both have had other bands and play a variety of instruments.  How does their input affect the overall style and production? Which angle does each of them come from?

Brian Spragg: Andrew also writes a majority of the main structures of our songs, but Jim and George will always have their creative rolls. Even recently, Jim has almost written some new guitar pieces for me from behind the drum kit. I say that meaning he hummed a guitar part and I figure out what he was humming [laughs].

Graffiti: Where did you record your new album “Horses Love Me Yes I Am,” and how much did it cost?

Brian Spragg: The album didn’t cost a thing to record, actually, because we did it ourselves. I went to a recording workshop in Chillicothe, Ohio, and learned a lot about audio engineering in February 2004, and since then have invested in a handful of recording equipment and microphones. We also mixed it, but it took me a while to finally get a mix I was happy with. At the same time, I was juggling with another band’s full length, so it was difficult not being able to mix one right after another because of ear fatigue.

Graffiti: Stylistically, the album seems to favor musical composition over lyrics. Is this a purposeful statement about the redundancy of “meaningful” lyrics, or was it a more spontaneous decision, inspired by the inner jester in all of you?

Brian Spragg: A little of both, actually. We all have a slightly (and maybe unreasonably) low tolerance for well thought-out lyrics. We’re so stubborn that almost everything sounds cliche to us anymore. So anything that pops into our heads that makes no sense usually ends up in a song. It does make us laugh, too, and that would be reason enough for us to write stupid, silly words.  The majority of (the lyrics) are funny things that friends have said or we may have heard randomly from complete strangers’ conversations.  Anything from “That 70’s Show” to bad Japanese anime — if it sounds silly by itself, or if it rolls off the tongue just right, it may be used as a goofy repetitious chorus.

Graffiti: Name your top five inspirations, be it music-related or not.

Brian Spragg: Yes, King Crimson, Battles, Faraquet and the TV show “Arrested Development.”

Graffiti: Do you dislike the title “Math-rock?”

Brian Spragg: I don’t dislike it, but I don’t necessarily like it either. It’s really just another term that a lot of people have mixed assumptions about.

Graffiti: How would you rate Morgantown’s music scene in terms of the public’s interest in new and thrilling acts such as yourselves?

Brian Spragg: The music scene is great here. The majority of people who go to shows are open-minded people with open-minded friends who are always willing to hear new music and tell their friends about it. Word travels quickly about something new that has or will be coming through Morgantown. Shows are promoted well and rarely does a band have a bad turnout, unless of course they were awful to begin with [laughs].

Contact Patrick at pdolan@graffitiwv.com