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SPOTLIGHT ON BIRDS OF TOKYO

Birds of Tokyo are set to hit the Coopers Live, Loud and Local stage in Perth this week! We caught up with Glenn Sarangapany to talk about the show, importance of live music, their latest album and so much more!

Image: Cybele Malinowski


Coopers Brewery and Live Nation recently announced the latest round of artists to feature in their Live, Loud and Local series, with Birds of Tokyo scheduled to take to the stage this weekend! We spoke with band member Glenn Sarangapany to discuss the upcoming performance, the return of live music and their latest album, Human Design.


The Live, Loud and Local series aims to to support Australia’s hospitality and entertainment industries as well as the local communities hit hard by COVID-19 and related social gathering restrictions.


Last year, Birds of Tokyo released their sixth studio album, Human Design. The record marked a shift lyrically and conceptually, inspired by a tumultuous period in the personal life of frontman Ian Kenny. Leaving behind ambiguous metaphors present in their earlier releases, the band left it all on the table to craft cathartic, relatable and anthemic tracks that resonate with their listeners.


Formed in Perth back in 2004, Birds of Tokyo have grown from independent roots to become one of Australia’s most popular contemporary rock bands. The five-piece have performed at every major festival in Australia, including Splendour In The Grass, Falls Festival and Groovin’ The Moo, with mammoth headlining slots at the AFL Grand Final andNRL’s flagship State of Origin game. Their singles Good Lord, Two of Us, Plans, Lanterns, Brace and I'd Go, have all been top 10 airplay hits and gained the band a legion of fans nationwide.


Tickets to Birds of Tokyo's Coopers Live, Loud and Local performance are on sale now! Read our interview with band member Glenn Sarangapany below.


You’re about to take to the stage for an exclusive performance at Coopers Live, Loud and in Perth! What can audiences expect from the show?


Everyone in the band is really keen to get on stage as you can imagine. The setlist spans our whole career so we get to take a few trips down memory lane as well as playing a couple of new tracks.




The past twelve months have taken its toll on the music industry, specifically the touring sector, but also in terms of making that in person connection with audience members and creating a shared feeling and experience. How important do you think live music is not only for yourself as a musician showcasing their art, but also for the audience members who resonate with your music?


Everyone in the industry did their best to maintain that connection with their fans by thinking outside the box during the last year. But live music is a very unique and irreplaceable experience. I've missed being on stage and I've missed being a punter. The first time I walked into a venue and heard a drummer soundchecking a kick drum after restrictions started to ease, I actually got teary.




What lasting effects do you hope audience members walk away with after attending one of your performances? (be that any messages, feelings, etc.)


These shows are about them. It's no secret that we adore our audience. We love the big singalongs. We love getting to share these moments with them.




You’ve embarked on countless sold-out tours, performed at every major festival in this country including Falls, Splendour In The Grass and Groovin’ The Moo and headlined the AFL Grand Final and NRL’s flagship State of Origin. Which show left the biggest impact on you, both professionally and personally?


Playing at the Freo v Hawks AFL Grand final was the big one for me. The packed out MGC is a lot to take in when you walk out on stage. Would love to get another call to do that again when West Coast make the finals :)




Could you share with us what has been your favourite concert you ever attended and why?


In 2013 Weezer did a tour where they played Blue Album from start to finish. It's my favourite album and they are my favourite band. The crowd knew every single word to every single song. And after the show as the whole of the crowd was walking from the venue to a pub, everyone sang the other Weezer songs that the band hadn't played.



You released your sixth studio album,Human Design, dropped shortly after the world went into lockdown. Did you find the prospect of releasing a record during the COVID-19 pandemic challenging considering you wouldn’t be able to undertake a traditional album rollout?


It was a lot to deal with. We couldn't tour. The band was separated in different states. And the music industry in general was in crisis. Our management team were the ones who made it work by coming up with clever solutions while also keeping us calm. Not easy things to do.




Human Design marked a shift lyrically and conceptually. What new knowledge and experience are you bringing into the sessions working on the new record, that differs from creating your debut album and subsequent albums? (more so musically and the way you create)


We've been talking a lot about the idea of just writing the truth. Which seems really obvious in theory but in practice takes quite a bit of work. Good Lord was a perfect example of writing as truthfully as we could. Kenny didn't give himself the safety net hiding his lyrics in metaphors like Lanterns or Anchors. He wrote very literally about something that tore his heart out. That kind of intention affects the band's entire creative process - from the way we chose to play our instruments to the chords we chose.




Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?


Only that Bitcoin was going to be worth over $50k in 2021 :) No, I'm really glad that we had to figure everything out the hard way. It's shaped us into who we are. Jumping into the unknown where we were just kids was such a fun part of this band's journey. I wouldn't replace that with anything.




You kicked off 2021 with the Symphonic 2021 Tour, performing with a full Orchestra on each leg. How did you craft this new live experience and create a set that worked successfully within an orchestral environment?


Honestly our cheat code was using an amazing arranger named Nick Buck to orchestrate the entire set. He knew the set order and because he arranged every song he was in control of the peaks and dips musically. The band worked very closely with Nick to come up with arrangements that didn't just present the songs in a new light but also created a really cool and dynamic show. We are extremely proud of that tour (in case you can't tell heh) and hope to do it again soon.




With restrictions starting to ease, will we be seeing you hit the road this year for a full national tour?


I'm hoping so. We're really really amped to play. We have a bunch of writing sessions booked that I'm very excited about and I'm dying to play some of the new songs live.



Tickets to Birds of Tokyo's Coopers Live, Loud and Local performance are on sale now!