High-flying Birds to play at Tracey Emin's Turner art show
Two Wounded Birds
by Jamie Stephens
High-flying Thanet band Two Wounded
Birds are returning to the roost to open Tracey Emin’s first
exhibition at the Turner.
Margate’s second biggest export
since Emin first started embroidering tents, it’s a fitting
homecoming for a band who have spent the last year rubbing
shoulders with some big names.
Despite mixing with the likes of
Brian Wilson, Debbie Harry and Edwyn Collins, the band still very
much have their feet on the ground:
"We’re looking forward to playing a
show in Margate as we don’t get the chance that often," says
frontman Johnny Danger.
"There’s a nice atmosphere around
the place with everything that’s been happening over the last
"It’s what Margate’s needed for a
while; it gets a lot of bashing in the national papers and
hopefully those ‘journalists’ will be eating their words now.
"We’re proud of where we’re from,
so it’s not on to see the town torn apart by some jumped-up
It was Emin who asked them to open
the "She Lay Down Deep Beneath The Sea" exhibition after seeing
their video for "All We Wanna Do", which was shot in the town and
features her artwork.
"She called us to tell us she loved
the song and asked us to play. It’ll be good joining forces with
someone else from Margate who has a strong sense of place and
direction in their work."
It’s not just Emin excited at the
promise the band have shown over a clutch of critically acclaimed
singles. Debbie Harry is a big fan while music mogul and Warner VP
Seymour Stein described them as "the best rock ‘n’ roll band since
the Ramones". Not bad coming from the man who discovered Madonna
and signed Depeche Mode, The Smiths and Ice-T.
Even Beach Boy Brian Wilson, one of
Johnny’s biggest heroes, has praised their sense of melody.
"Brian invited us to his shows in
London and we hung out with him. It really didn’t sink in. I was
just stood there looking at his head thinking of all the great
music that had come out of it.
"The man’s a genius. There are not
many people who can write music that immediately transports you
somewhere else, so to think he’s heard something in our music is
unbelievable. But you can’t dwell on it too much. You do that and
you stop going forward."
In between extensive worldwide
touring, Two Wounded Birds have been busy recording their
self-titled debut album, released on June 4 on the label of
all-round indie darlings the Drums. Guitarist Jacob Graham isn’t
surprised the surf-rockers have been making such big waves:
"It’s easy to see why they’ve
caught the ears of such legends as Brian Wilson and Debbie Harry.
Their songs capture the American spirit with clear allegiances to
the Beach Boys, the Ramones and Elvis while still acknowledging the
band’s British roots.
"You won’t hear any Elton
John-style American accents here; Johnny’s sound recalls the tones
of Colin Blunstone in his Zombies heyday. It’s a voice with true
It’s an apt description. Yes, their
songs channel fifties Californian beach vibes but are shot through
with a healthy dose of British cynicism and more than a touch of
the sinister. Their music pays homage to a classic era of American
song-writing, cars and girls, but Two Wounded Birds are more about
stalking the beach at midnight looking for mischief.
West Coast meets east Kent, it’s a
sensibility honed by a band who spent their formative years kicking
their heels and haunting the seafront arcades. Pop songs for sure,
but pop songs delivered with the threat of menace, tons of reverb
and a bag of chips and a brawl for afters.
"We’re just a rock ‘n’ roll band,"
insists Johnny, "but if all those name checks mean people go out
and listen to people like the Beach Boys then I’m more than
"I think people will be surprised
by the album though. If they’re just expecting surf-rock from us
then this will have them thinking again.
"You would not believe how
frustrating it’s been being sat on the album since last November.
I’ve been excited for people to hear it. Not long now though..." he
It’s been a tumultuous 12 months
for both Margate and the band but when the debut hits record stores
next month, a humble seaside town on the east Kent coast fast
reawakening from a fifty-year slumber will have yet another thing
to sing proudly about.
Two Wounded Birds play the
Turner Contemporary’s Foyle Rooms on Saturday, May 26. Tickets
˜Two Wounded Birds" is released on
Holiday Records on June 4. Hear a sneak preview here: http://soundcloud.com/workit/two-wounded-birds-the-outer
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