Entrance. Impress. Destroy. This seems to be what A Lot Like Birds lives by as their music is devoted to to such a creed. Nestled in Sacramento, California, the seven-piece band has been torturing minds and ears with creativity ever since Plan B has been released and are now intent on touring as soon as their stars align. We caught up with vocalist/guitarist Michael Franzino, vocalist Cory Lockwood and guitarist Ben Jacobs to find out more about how the experimental-rock group formed and decided to explore different genres.
For those who need an introduction, who are A Lot Like Birds?
Ben Jacobs: Dinosaurs, just ask Dr. Grant.
How did the name of the band come about?
Cory Lockwood: It started with a childish venture into the sewers during a game of zombie tag and evolved into something much more sinister. All seven of us stumbled across a handful of radioactive material and four small turtles, each of them nibbling at the waste and seeming to adopt tremendous abilities almost instantaneously. We quickly made soup of the turtles and headed for the next logical place…the elephant graveyard. Yeah, our dads told us not to go there, but that’s what we FELT like doing.
So we kicked it there for the next several years, invented every single gaming console out of hyena bone marrow, got bored and crafted armor out of elephant remains. We even rode out on lions into a time warp and killed Adolf Hitler for the sake of the rest of the world who, with seven spears still sticking out of his chest and us standing over him, screamed with his last dying breath “You better not name your damn band A Lot Like Birds.”
Lately, a lot of bands seem to be coming out how California. How was your group formed?
Lockwood: Sacramento’s been a pretty busy breeding ground for bands over the past few years and we were all in bands moving in the same direction. We pretty much met each other and played shows together in our respective bands but that was about it until a few months ago.
Michael Franzino and Michael Littlefield had been toiling away at a new project that involved a lot of varied instrumentation and each of us was invited to take part in the album in one way or another. After it all came together, the core of us stuck and started playing shows and becoming a real band. Now we’re making the best of it and trying to make a name for ourselves among all the other groups in California.
What’s the music scene like in Sacramento?
Lockwood: Not as bad as many would make it seem, actually. A lot of bands are cynical about the rest of the music world around them. Every band wants to believe that they’re doing something original and that everything else is just a carbon copy. And there are a lot of generic bands out there, but there are more than a handful of really amazing groups that have heavily impacted the scene. If you want to get a feel for the potential of Sacramento music, check out bands like the Speed of Sound In Seawater and the Dreaded Diamond.
Since your band is made up of seven, what musicians seem to influence your music the most?
Lockwood: We come from a background of ska, folk, rock, post-hardcore, and punk bands, so just about everything this project is not! When it came time for all of us to contribute, parts were written and influenced by each guests’ strengths. That said, every musical decision we make goes through one important step before it can ever even come to light. It’s a rule we like to call WWCKD: DTO. We basically ask ourselves what Chad Kroeger would do, then we do the opposite.
Your album Plan B itself seems like a major project as numerous people pitched in on different instruments that mold the songs on the record. How did you manage to get so much support for your first release?
Lockwood: We have some of the best friends in the world. And more importantly, we have so much insane blackmail material on all of them that they didn’t really have a choice in the matter.
Unlike other aspiring unsigned bands, Plan B sounds polished. Was it easy for you guys to achieve that without a label?
Lockwood: 10 months of intensive laboring with Jack O’Donnell in his home studio (Shattered Records) made it possible. It wasn’t easy but we couldn’t have done it without him. He has an unbelievable attention to detail and it shows in the recordings. The most difficult part was slaving over the drum tracks day after day to get them perfect.
Have any labels been knocking at your door lately?
Jacobs: We had to turn down Death Row. Suge Knight was pissed.
Lockwood: We’re still a baby band as it is, so we’re trying to build up some steam. That said, we’ve been fortunate enough to meet some influential characters that really make a difference in the Sacramento music scene. Hopefully, with the positive feedback we’ve been getting, the bigger shows we’re playing and merchandise on the way, we can grab the attention of a label and see where it goes from there.
Why did you choose the title Plan B?
Jacobs: Because Bat Out Of Hell was already taken.
What made you decide to incorporate/blend female vocals and various instruments such as violins, cello and trumpets with screamo vocals and alternative rock?
Michael Franzino: Personally, the thing I specifically try to accomplish most when I write are extreme contrasts. There’s something really satisfying about making something I think is really beautiful and destroying it two measures later with a disgusting display of angst and discord.
Do you guys plan to tour the U.S. in the near future?
Lockwood: We’re so very very broke, but yes. Even if we have to carry our gear in a rickshaw and eat our own clothing for protein, we definitely plan on touring. We might not have the means to do a full U.S. tour at the moment, but we’re going to go as far as wheels will take us this summer. And if it takes us to Toronto, we’ll play a special show there where we’ll bring endangered animals on stage, have them breed with each other inside of cages that dangle over the crowd and solve extinction problems while we play as loud and chaotically as we can.
Creating a unique identity as a musician isn’t easy, but you guys have found a way to do so. Do you have any advice for other band’s trying to make a statement in their local music scenes?
Lockwood: Definitely. Pimp out your MySpace and use Twitter to update fans on interesting facts like how “totally wasted” your bassist got last night. Cater to underage girls because they are the Siskel and Ebert of the music world. And remember, a band that doesn’t breakdown is bound to break up.
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