It’s been about a year and a half since NJ rockers Those Mockingbirds dropped the Penny The Dreadful LP. The early half of 2015 saw the band largely dormant, but with prolific songwriter Adam Bird at the helm, those with intimate knowledge of Those Mockingbirds’ inner workings knew things were going to heat up again in no time.
Those Mockingbirds now return with “How The Story Goes,” a slight departure from the overall sound on their last album, with arena ready swells and haunting keyboards leading the way.
“How The Story Goes” heralds a thoughtful refresh for Those Mockingbirds looking out at 2016. You’ll notice fresh press shots, a new website and more gigs, including a Speak Into My Good Eye showcase on January 15th at Pianos.
I caught up with Bird ahead of the release of “How The Story Goes” to dig deeper into its meaning and origin.
Adam Bird: Mike! Did you get the preview of “How The Story Goes” that I sent over?
Speak Into My Good Eye: I did! Some new electronic elements from the outset leading to an epic swell to the finish. How did it all come about?
AB: I wrote the song initially as a songwriting exercise in using only 3 chords… And lyrically I decided to write about my grandparents. After listening to a ton of Massive Attack, and Air, we shaped the feel of the song… And kaboom! Here it is.
SIMGE: Nice! I love those influences and it shows in the single. What can you tell me about the track’s narrative or larger themes?
AB: It’s about dealing with unpreventable loss and ultimately reaching the step of accepting it. The lyrics were mostly inspired by my grandmother, after my grandfathers death, and what I tried to imagine her going thru (which I’m certain I didn’t even come close) … But there’s also quite a bit of personal sourcing from myself losing relationships with friends or whatnot.
SIMGE: As with most sonic art, you can hear a certain catharsis on the track. Does this contemplation of loss and the life cycle inspire you beyond just this single?
AB: Absolutely. While this was probably the most direct way I’ve addressed these topics, I’ve been writing about the life cycle a lot over the past few years. “The Reckoning” on Penny The Dreadful, was entirely about my Dad having brain cancer, just to cite one example.
SIMGE: I know you’re someone that has dozens of rough sketches of songs in your head and on paper or cell phone notes at a time. How far back can you trace the origin of “How The Story Goes”?
AB: I started writing “How The Story Goes” last summer, (2014) and showed it to the band shortly after. I admit, I am particularly terrible at being able to tell which songs my bandmates will think have potential and which don’t. So, i knew I liked “Story”, but i wasn’t prepared for how excited it would make my bandmates and our manager. So while we put it to the forefront of the things we were working on, we took our time with it. Ultimately, I ended up writing a piano part that changed the direction we wanted to go with it, and ultimately brought it to the vibe it currently has.
SIMGE: What direction did you have in mind originally?
AB: It was a little more “guitar rock” initially. A lot of muted chugging of the chords, which ended up being replaced by keyboards.
SIMGE: Any influences in particular you drew from here?
AB: In the original outlook? Or in how it turned out?
SIMGE: Hey, why not both?
AB: Originally, I think I was more inspired by the Murder By Death song “My Hill”. Which is extremely sparse. Ultimately I think I ended up being more inspired by Massive Attack.
SIMGE: Have you started playing it live yet?
AB: We debuted it live at Maxwells on 10/30. It will certainly be in the set for the foreseeable future.