Jersey Beat Music Fanzine

Adam Bird has been an intergral part of New Jersey’s music scene since his early days in Perfuma, but with Those Mockingbirds, he truly established himself as a songwriter and performer. With the demise of that band, Adam launched aBird, which finds this rock ‘n’ roll lifer headed in a new musical direction, especially with the release of the group’s debut album, Hard Times In New Dimensions on Mint 400 Records. James Damion caught up with Adam to get the latest lowdown…

Interview by James Damion
Photos by Emily Locklear

Q: It's been quite a while since we last spoke. What have you been doing besides music?

Adam: First off let me tell you that I’ve missed seeing you at shows, James. No one has dared trying to fill your shoes here in NJ. As for me, I’ve been watching a lot of Japanese horror movies, debating whether or not I should get rid of all social media and practicing a fair amount of Zazen meditation. Also, I ride my bike a whole lot now, it’s a really fantastic activity to take part in. I often pretend I’m Luke Skywalker flying an X-Wing while I’m on my bike, going down hills and such. No joke.

Q: I think a lot of people were surprised when Those Mockingbirds decided to call it a day. What would you say were some of the key elements that brought the band to a close?

Adam: We just collectively felt that it had run its course and if we continued pushing it, we were going to run the risk of diluting what we had accomplished in our own eyes. It wasn’t a big dramatic ending or a great story, just us saying “yea, let’s call it... check please!”.


Q: Regrets? Anything you might do differently if given the chance?

Adam: There was an unfortunate falling out with a producer/friend near the end, which was based on a misunderstanding... I thought about that for a while and wished for a mulligan on that one many times. I would have approached the entire existence of the band with a whole lot less anxiety if I could, but that’s one of those things you learn as you get older.

Q: How long after the breakup did you start thinking about or start writing music again?

Adam: Days.... if not before Those Mockingbirds officially ended. There wasn’t a time where I considered otherwise.

Q: The music on Hard Times In New Dimensions is quite a departure from what we were hearing on "Penny the Dreadful" or "A Ballad from Hell." How did you arrive at or what inspired the change?

Adam: I started to get into more electronic based music during Those Mockingbirds and began to realize that synths were capable of way viler and fucked up sounds than guitars were. Bands like Massive Attack, Air & LCD Soundsystem were all pivotal in opening my eyes and I quickly got over that old artifact left to us from the classic rock generations, still upset about disco, that rock and electronic music were supposed to be segregated in some form or another. The final Those Mockingbirds single “How The Story Goes” was a step in that direction, and once the band ended I decided to just run full force into it because I knew I would be opening up a MUCH bigger color palette to work with for what became aBIRD.

Q: Everything from the record's title "Hard Times In Two Dimensions" to the opener "Fuck You (and you and you)” to "If I Had A Gun" show that you might have struggled and even faced some hard times during the stretch in which these songs were written. Would I be correct in that assumption?

Adam: Yes, you would be correct.

Q: Would you be open to sharing your experiences?

Adam: Around 12 years old I was diagnosed with OCD, specifically obsessive thinking as opposed to compulsive physical actions, and I was even medicated for a while too. So, my brain sorts the information coming to it into weird clumps sometimes and my wires can become very tangled. I would guess this happens to everyone to some degree; however, when you add obsessive thinking to to the mix, it’s a nightmare, because as you begin to sort concepts into “negative bins” in your head, those concepts become tainted and you latch onto them. For example, I didn’t allow myself to release a song that faded out at the end for a long time, because - and this is the insane part - I truly FELT it would somehow hex me. I could logically know that it wouldn’t, but I would be INCREDIBLY uncomfortable about it internally. I have lots of other hang ups that are just as ridiculous too, and my brain operates as if life is a pre-written story that I’m just watching like a movie, while I logically know that isn’t the case.

So, with that explained, I’m sort of always going thru some degree of these mental obstacle courses. I can reign it in to benefit me, often in songwriting... but it’s truly a work out and at times I am incredibly overwhelmed. Especially during times of extreme change, like I experienced in the last few years.

However, this is what aBIRD is about for me. Doing an entirely new style of music was absolutely terrifying but I had to stare it down to make the ghost go away. I can’t let the invisible gatekeepers in my head win anymore, because when they do, it cripples me across all the aspects of my life. I’m honestly scared to even tell you this, because every awful thing I can imagine people thinking of me is currently brewing in my mind as I answer, but it’s who I am and it’s why this album is called ‘Hard Times In Two Dimensions’, because it sums up this experience for me.

Q: I remember goofing on you when I first saw the name Adam Bird under the band’s umbrella. How much of that name being established in the music industry plays into your decision to move forward as aBird?

Adam: I just wasn’t sure if it was truly a solo project or if it was a band, so I decided to kind of ride the fence a bit. It comes from my dad referring to both my brother and I as if we are authors, using our first two initials instead of our names sometimes. And then when we put the first single out, Spotify or Google thought we were trying to park on a common search term of “a bird” and kept taking the page down. So, I said fuck it, make it one word, and there ya go...aBIRD.

Q: How did you come to know the label Mint 400? Was there anything particular that made you want to work with them?

Adam: I’ve known Neil (Sabatino) from just floating around the same scene for years and he approached me about contributing to the Tribute to Nirvana’s In Utero compilation he was putting together. We ended up recording the song “Very Ape” at his studio and I showed him some of the aBIRD tracks in early form. Neil offered me his help if I wanted it in the future and as we kept talking I realized he would be a really great partner to have as I launched this thing.

Q: On what platforms, will the record be available?

Adam: It’s out now on Spotify, Apple Music and everywhere else you can possibly imagine downloading or streaming music. Just search for aBIRD like that. No spaces!

Q: Has performing the songs live been somewhat cathartic for you?

Adam: Intensely cathartic. I will say that figuring out how to translate electronic music to a live situation is like learning a whole new language, so there was a lot of trial and error at our early shows. But, I think we’re starting to get the hang of it.

Q: Being that this is a solo effort, have you managed to get a regular cast of musicians to work with on stage? Or is it a revolving door policy?

Adam: My main collaborator is Nick Ivory, who performs live with me and plays on the record. Kevin Walters from Those Mockingbirds did a little drumming on the record, and my friend Steve Carter helped me find the vibe for one of the songs in the studio. Other than those guys I’ve had an “open borders policy” where anyone who can find something to do is welcome to come join us for a bit if they want and go as they please. I’m purposefully keeping it in an ambiguous grey area between “band” and “solo artist,” as reflected by the name.

Q: What's next for aBIRD? Are you continuing to write and record new song?

Adam: We’re going to push this record as long as it will let us, while working on the next one. I’ve got a batch of songs and an idea for the approach of the next record already, and it’ll be a continued experiment in trying new things.

back to l back to top is an independently published music fanzine covering punk, alternative, ska, techno and garage music, focusing on New Jersey and the Tri-State area. For the past 25 years, the Jersey Beat music fanzine has been the authority on the latest upcoming bands and a resource for all those interested in rock and roll.

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