Vocalist/guitarist John Lewis and drummer Nick Layman started playing together in 2003. In 2012, vibeist/percussionist Regan Layman joined what had become Black Birds of Paradise. Bassist Dashiell Moss completes the quartet, who release their debut album with a show at the New Vintage on Saturday.
Layman, who has pressed the album himself at Palomino Records, says, “It has been a real DIY experience, with it being self-recorded, pressed on vinyl by a band member, and we’re making all the covers and inserts ourselves."
LEO: The Velvet Underground, Nilsson and Esquivel — all great, unique sound-makers from the ’50s-’70s. How did they all influence the band?
Nick Layman: We all listen to a lot of music, but Nilsson, Esquivel and Velvet Underground are three particularly powerful influences. Stylistically, we feel like we draw from them all in different aspects. From the production side, Nick tried some Nilsson-esque recording techniques. “Everybody’s Talking” is also one of John’s all-time favorite songs, so that’s definitely influenced his songwriting. Live, we feel like we channel more of a Velvet feel, raw and powerful. But we have more of an Esquivel presence on the album since we had the freedom to add more layers.
LEO: Do you feel out of touch with modern pop music?
NL: Do we relate? No. But do we feel disconnected? No. We feel like we listen to modern music, but we don’t necessarily channel that when we play our own music. There’s a neo-psychedelic movement happening right now that we really support. If it were running for office, we’d put its bumper sticker on our car.
LEO: Tell me about the visual element of your live show, especially for the release show.
NL: The release is going to be the biggest visual thing we’ve done so far. We’re going to wear robes, we’re going to decorate the New Vintage, and there is going to be fog. On top of all that, the Squallis Puppeteers are going to be there for a puppet psychedelic masterstroke. And Spettra will be projecting crazy shapes, colors and insanity on top of the fog.
Take a trip to facebook.com/BlackBirdsofParadise for more stimulation.