John Brodeur brings his Bird Streets project to Asbury Park

Bird Streets interview


The Brooklyn-based band Bird Streets will make their Asbury Park debut on Nov. 8, when they come to roost at The Saint. Formed in Los Angeles and New York by John Brodeur (The Suggestions, Maggie Mayday) via his partnership with multi-instrumentalist/producer Jason Falkner (Paul McCartney, Noel Gallagher), Bird Streets is a departure from the normal and a rediscovery of Brodeur’s creativity.

“I’ve been making music under my own name going back almost 20 years and had a couple of different bands along the way,” he said with a twinge of nostalgia in his voice. “I started using the Bird Streets name about three years ago, which is around the time I started the album with Jason Falkner. It just seemed like a good reset to put a band name on it because it felt sort of like a fresh new thing working with him, and it just felt different from other things that I was doing.”

With his attitude and creativity refreshed, Brodeur reached back to the past to come up with the Bird Streets moniker, which is also the title of the CD that was released in August.

“When I started the album with Jason, he and I had actually done a song about four and a half years ago called ‘Direction,’ and that was the first thing we cut together — a couple of years before we actually got back into it. When I was out there doing that, I was just kind of hanging out, walking around L.A., looking for stuff to do and waiting for him to get a free afternoon, and I came upon that neighborhood which I saw on Google Maps: The Bird Streets. It’s kind of a chic multi-million dollar mansion neighborhood up in the Hollywood Hills behind Sunset and all the streets are named after birds.

“I felt a sort of coincidence because I lived in Albany for about 10 years before I moved to the city, and that’s where I wrote some of these songs, and all of the streets in downtown Albany are also named after birds.

“So yeah, the album is called Bird Streets and it’s out on Omnivore Records, but Jason and I don’t cross paths as much as I’d like to. But when we were out there for some shows in August, he played on those, and hopefully I’ll get him up on the next one. We’re going to talk about doing some more recording because we finished this record up nearly three years ago and I’m anxious to get started on the next one.

“This one took a while to get people to bite on it, but hopefully the next one will go a little quicker. He has a lot of commitments, he’s producing four or five records a year for different artists and he plays with Beck, which is kind of a big deal. So he’s working a lot; I just get him when I can.”

Recording a disc and performing live are totally separate entities. How did he write the material and what does he do when it comes time to perform live?

“Essentially I am Bird Streets and Bird Streets is my thing. But on the record Jason Falkner and I wrote some of the stuff together, where I would bring him songs that were half to two-thirds finished, and then we’d finish them together. There are a couple of other songs that we worked on that were pretty well done, but some of my favorite songs — the first three songs, for instance — were things where I had some ideas but I didn’t know how to get out of the chorus or I didn’t have a bridge and he’d say, ‘Why don’t you try doing this?’ Then we’d sort of just flesh it out from there.

“My band is sort of a shapeshifter right now. New York is tough to get people because everybody is in five bands … The band that you’re going to see at The Saint is different from the band you might have seen had you caught us last weekend or the weekend before. On this particular show I’ve got Jay Preston on bass, Konrad Meissner on drums and Patrick Brennan on guitar — all local New York guys. We’re doing this as a one-off in Asbury; we’re just kind of doing stuff where we can jump out of New York easily. Hopefully we’ll be doing some more next year; we’re doing a midwest tour in December and that’s pretty much going to eat up the rest of our attention span for the rest of the year. So it’s going to be like, ‘Hey, who can do these shows?’ Then we’ll get those people together and do some rehearsals and that will be the band for about a week and a half.

“It’s crazy because when I lived upstate and first moved to the city I had a pretty solid band and you get used to playing with the same people. And now it’s a lot of the same people, but I have a depth chart of different people at different positions. So it’s sort of mix-and-match and it’s interesting to see how they play with each other and how each of them interprets the songs.

“I think it’s great to mix it up and play with different people unless you’re a Foo Fighters-type band that has their sound and that’s their thing, and if they were to veer away from that people would not understand what to do with it. I think for what I do, which is a lot of different styles and sounds within the larger trappings of rock or singer-songwriter music, there’s a lot of different influences at play so it’s good to hear how other people pick those out.”

Brodeur has been getting some help from some New Jersey radio personalities, and one station in particular.

“One of our songs, ‘Carry Me,’ which is the first song on the record, has been getting a lot of play on Brookdale Public Radio (90.5 The Night),” says Brodeur. “They’ve been angling to get us down there and we hooked it up and they’re going to help us promote the (Saint) show a bit and hopefully they’ll keep playing our songs for a long time.”

Tickets for this event are $12 and can be purchased at the venue or from the Bird Streets website at Doors open at 7:30 p.m., and Cliff Westfall opens.

So what can one expect from a Bird Streets show?

“I think we just give a pretty solid rock ‘n’ roll show with a lot of different twists and turns. If you know the record, it’s kind of like that, but maybe with a little less bells and whistles and a little more straightforward,” says Brodeur. “Some heartfelt singing and playing and we’re looking forward to it.”

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