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Two Wounded Birds : An Interview

  • By MisterCharlie Author Avatar
  • 28 June 2012


Amidst the scuddy ash trays and faux tropical brick work of Dalston’s Shacklewell Arms, Two Wounded Birds are preparing to finally launch their debut album. A couple of years in the making, the eponymous LP charts the bands journey, not just from one record label to the next, but also from the nocturnal surf revivalism of their early singles to something altogether darker; a place of cavernous echo and heartstring sentiment, the ghost of pop's past come to dance in a hall of faded memory. Both sounds fit snug into the bands tightly self managed image- a homage to the wild, transformative power of rock n roll that touches on the leather jackets of The Ramones, the whooping hollers of The Beach Boys, the maverick, mecurial sensibilities of Meek and Spector, and the scrappy ananlogue authenticity of fellow Kentish man Billy Childish. Their singular focus has resulted in a great, cohesive debut that matches their great, cohesive look. It harks back to a time when songs were written as a release for the soul, rather than irksome stepping stones in the scramble to lifeless celebrity-

“The 50s feels so much more authentic, there feels like so much more humanity than in the modern era.”  Enthuses guitarist and last member to join, Joe,

“We want something with real human passion. We love how people used to really strive to make something.  Lonnie Donegan received 3 shillings and 17 pence for one of his recordings and he did it because he loved the music, he didn’t do it for fame, and you don’t get that much these days. It was so much more real, people doing something because it was genuine rather than it’d get them somewhere where they want to be.... Like, we love Joe Meek- his last record with the Tornados, on the b-side he’s written this really nice organ instrumental and then over the top he’s got two queens talking in the toilets, all like (in a camp shriek that reduces the rest of the band too giggles) ‘Mmmm, I don't like the look of yours...’ and EMI released it – and he’s recorded tracks where he’s making imaginary cat voices – amazing! There just aren’t the same characters in music now, these mavericks-“

“And that’s what we wanna work with” interjects singer and songwriter Johnny Danger from behind his jet black mop.

“I want it to be raw, to have dynamics- the way Phil Spector would produce records was amazing, and people don’t give a shit about that now. If he was out of prison he would definitely be recording Two Wounded Birds. I’d love to work with him.”

I want to know if he’d be at all worried about Phil’s notorious gun toting studio reputation,

“Ahh, no we’d be respectful”

Bass player Ally butts in – “Has he told you he’s been sending letters to Phil Spector in jail?”

“Its true, I’ve been writng to Phil Spector.” Johnny replies, a touch reticent

“But I'm not telling you what he said. I don’t think he killed that woman. There’s more evidence. But I don’t want to incriminate myself.. “

And no pleading and coaxing on my part me any further nugs from that particular gold mine... So, we go back to the new record, and the way it progresses from thundering goodtime classics ( the album opener Together Forever romps in with a chorus of 'fun, fun, fun') to the spectral echoes of it's closing moments

“We’re really happy with the album.” Johnny emphasises.

“ Its a true representation of where we’re at musically right now. We wanted to put some distance between now and the things we did with (former label) Moshi Moshi. The way the album’s taken its course is, the beginning of the album is the honeymoon period which represents that first stage of our music. The second half is more representative of things like Mazzy Star, and a lot darker, dealing with mature themes, so as the album progresses it gets right up to where we are now.”



The band are clearly in love with their current set list, and it shows when they perform live. They chomp into the music with buzzsaw ferocity, spitting out bleeding pop sized chunks along the way. Johnny again:

“I think live should be exciting. We’ve played with a few bands recently and they sound all perfect, and everything’s where it should be, and you find yourself thinking, where’s the fucking excitement? I like it when it’s loud and brash and a bit off kilter, otherwise, it’s just where’s the fun? Where are people having fun? It’s a gig isn’t it, it’s not meant to be completely perfect, that’s the whole charm of seeing a live band, I don’t want it to be exactly like how it is on the album, I don’t want it to be- ‘oh its not that’s loud, its smoother on the record’—fuck that! Lets turn it up!”


And I wonder to the band how being ‘brash and off-kilter’ went down when they played at Tracy Emin’s recent Turner Gallery launch in their home town of Margate-

“-Ahh it was a disappointment. We thought it’d be all the things about Margate that are great at the moment, all our friends from the Old Town in a big celebration, and instead it was like a Tory Donor Party convention, full of arseholes”

“I got called a commoner by Christopher Biggins” Ally laughs. “I mean Christopher fucking Biggins, literally called me and (manager) Hannah commoners. And Joe threw a chair and got barred”

They’re all cracking up at the memory, like the proper gang they are, and I can’t fail to be charmed. In a world of phoney retro sentiment pumped from trout pouts, fake tits and fair weather quiffs, Two Wounded Birds are genuinely in love with the anarchy and redemption offered by pop music’s Golden Dawn, whether the world cares or not. The last word goes to Johnny

“Being authentic is the only thing, you should just be true to what your into, don’t pretend to be into something you’re not. We don’t have to justify where we are, we like what we like- the majority of things we like are almost untouchable things- good melodies and good hooks, and I don’t hear that anymore.  If people take some time to listen to us, then they know what we’re saying is true.”


Two Wounded Birds is available now-- or you can stream the album on the bands facebook page