The night club scene of NYC has given the world pop stars, jazz greats, and plenty of stages for teeth cutting. Silverbird frontman Tim Barr knows all of this, who studied under the tutelage of Mike Longo (Dizzy Gillespie's protege and pianist) and found himself playing for a then lesser known, Lizzy Grant, later to be re-christened Lana Del Rey. Barr parlays these hosts of experiences on the wings of Silverbird, where we premiere an exclusive listen to the upcoming Surface Life EP brought to life with a little help from Kristopher Harris and bandmates.
Only five songs long, Surface Life flies with the form and expanse of what you might expect from a full-length album. Barr goes big on “Hollow Heart”, pushing for something of real substance and sending out a helping of honest yearning. Tim and the band fly forth in search of a tangible truth on “Honey You're”, which recites the EP title in an attempt to reach something more real than faces in a magazine. “With the Spirits” slows it down a bit in ghostly harmonies that materialize with the fraternities and sororities of the immaterial beings. The demo's stripped down quality can be heard on the intimate tape recorded “Silver Bird”, which flies low through a thick haze of vapors, fog and smog interlacing like ribbons in the air. Silverbird hang their hats up on “When we went to the Country”, which ends with a sing-a-long number that will have you repeating, “flames to smoke, you laughed at my jokes, you smiled when I spoke, but you turned when I choked, and that's when it broke, man love is a joke.” Crashing it all down into the sea, Silverbird set sail for the skies where soon perhaps an album may descend. Frontman Tim Barr joins us for a discussion, after the following stream of Surface Life.
Tell us about working with producer Kristopher Harris on the Surface Life EP, and how his contributions along with bandmates Corey Davis, Dan Whaley, and Jacob Schuab have contributed to Silverbird's sound.
Kris is an amazing guy, it was me and him holed up at cowboy technical in Williamsburg for 10 days. I really enjoyed the process. He has the British sensibility and magic. We just love making music. I was thinking, when you're a kid you play in a sandbox, when you grow up you play in a studio, no different than that. Making this album was a joint effort, he is a fundamental part of the sound 100%
How did you all turn these song sketches, demos and tapes into Surface Life?
I recorded them as sketches in my bedroom and then I would send them to Kris in London. Then when he came over we did a little pre-production but not too much, we pretty much just dove into it. With the spirits is the demo I did in my room though, for some reason that song just came out in one shot in a nice way so we stuck with it.
I like how the emotional travels and pursuits of your songs are made into aural representations of feeling. The city lights fade in the escapist reminiscence on, “When we went to the country”, the truth seeking “Honey You're”, to the grand foyer of “Hollow Heart”. How do you describe your own songwriting process?
My mentor Mike Longo used to say this music comes from behind the mind. He was speaking about jazz but I apply it to my songwriting. There is no thinking involved, it's just molding something that's already there.
How has playing NYC clubs and in the jazz scene contributed to your creative work with Silverbird?
Tremendously. Grinding away in New York does something to your skin. It makes it thicker! Although mines still relatively thin. Second I'm lucky to play music, I try to be spiritual about it. And jazz, well jazz is the truth. When it's played correctly. Freedom, love, openness, expression, spontaneity. I'm trying to do that with my music.
What can you divulge about a Silverbird full-length album?
It's gonna be sick!
Silverbird's Surface Life will be available May 27.