A mere three months ago, Welsh wonders Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard were all set to double denim hop their way over to Texas with us and delight SXSW attendees with their riveting rock ’n’ roll hijinks at our very own Official SXSW Showcase. Now, in the midst of a global pandemic, the entirety of the music industry are trying to carve out new ways to sustain themselves.
The impact of SXSW’s cancellation has been detrimental to a host of independent bands who were using their appearances at the American conference as a springboard to wider recognition, so that is why we, alongside Balance Artists, invited some bands scheduled to play, to put on our showcase virtually this Thursday, to raise money for the parties dealing with the fallout. Tickets can be bought in advance below, and will cost just £5.
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But whilst you’re waiting for the show to start, we checked in with Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard’s enigmatic frontman Tom Rees to see what they’ve been up to since lockdown began and to find out all about new EP The Non-Stop, which lands next month via Communion.
Gigwise: Hello Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard, where in the world are you currently?
Tom Rees: Hey Gigwise! We're all in Cardiff, Wales, home of the brave, and in the wake of Boris Johnson's recent announcements, home of the semi-sensible.
GW: When did you find out about SXSW’s cancellation?
TR: I think it was around a fortnight before the lockdown was imposed in the UK, we were doing loads of pre-production for a record we were going to be making in our studio in Cardiff, so the hurt was adequately shared!
GW: Has lockdown given you the opportunity to discover any new music? And this goes for stuff that’s new to you, as opposed to new in the general sense…
TR: I’ve been revisiting Deep Purple, which is strange because I don't really dig on the music as hard as other bands, but the production on Machine Head is blowing my mind right now. I've rewatched all of the old Classic Albums docs as well, and Machine Head is one of them, hearing about how they recorded the whole thing in a hotel corridor - it puts our recordings to shame! Beyond that, I've been rinsing Willie J Healey.
GW: How did your relationship with Communion come about?
TR: It was a lovely slow burn, kind of like a rotisserie chicken. We were just having conversations after we had played a couple of shows in London, the big one being our headliner for YALA! at the Bermondsey Social Club. From there we were just drawn in by how lovely they were, which for me has always been a big one considering the music industry is always a bit of a grind - everyone at Communion was committed, passionate and above all honest. I'm absolutely in love with them.
GW: How do you go about harnessing your innovative sound whilst still honouring inspirations from previous decades in your music?
TR: In a certain sense, I think it's about digging into the pastiche element of the writing and the dressing and the acting, in an attempt to let it wash over you. I think there's the potential to be so afraid of being pastiche that you end up running away from the initial inspiration. Personally, I try and be as pastiche as possible and then let the lyrics ground everything in a state of 'now' - plus my production techniques are a bit hammy so it's going to sound way more digital and a little less 'warm and classic' than all of the 70s hitters. Overall, just hang onto it man!
GW: ‘John Lennon Is My Jesus Christ’ obviously name checks a lot of people, is there anyone who didn’t quite make the cut that deserves a shout out?
TR: I thought about Don Henley for a little bit, and Glen Campbell too, but I didn't want it to get too choked up with all of my inspirations, so I enlisted the help of Zac and Ed to suggest the second verse - I wanted to get Maggie Thatcher in on the Jesus Christ end as well, but it’s probably for the best that I didn’t.
GW: Who is your favourite Hollywood actor?
TR: I’ve got a real thing for Adam Driver at the moment, I love how serious he is its super spooky.
GW: The Non-Stop is ten tracks long, do you feel like it is a good summary of Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard from birth until now?
TR: Most certainly, it's kind of all encapsulating really. The EP is a collection of songs that we've had together since we first started playing, so it feels good to have them see the light of day. What I'm more excited for though is the road ahead. We've had a lot of time to write more material and we've really grown together as a band, right now it feels like we're firing on something really good.
GW: How old or new are the tracks?
TR: They were all written and recorded in 2017/18 I think, back in those days it was just me playing everything and getting the guys in to sing some harmonies and clap and stuff like that. I don't miss that process at all. At the time I felt like I was being 'cool and isolationist' like a true original, 'doing everything himself' and all that, but after recording fully with the guys and creating this real chemistry between us there's absolutely nothing better.
GW: Lastly, can you talk us behind the inspiration for the EP artwork please?
TR: The photo was based on a photo of Yves Saint Lauren used in 1971, our manager had shown me the image and I was shook straight away. Everything about the image was perfect. It was so decadent in the way that it was shot but he looked so vulnerable. The decision to run with something similar started from an aesthetic standpoint but then kind of moved through the motions of what counter-balance it would offer the music. Most of the stuff on the EP is driven and intense, so it felt quite interesting to offer a kind of patient and velvety cover to lull you into it all a little.
GW: Thanks Tom!
Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard will play our virtual SXSW showcase, streaming on Thursday 4 June 2020. Find out more information here. Or buy a ticket above! The Non-Stop is released on 10 July via Communion.