THE SURVIVAL ISSUE
The lone songwriter’s lot is a hard one: all that time spent on your tod in bedsits, operating as an autonomous mates-free zone, the struggle to be heard by a public who just don’t care, who probably aren’t good enough for your songs anyway. So it would seem if you’ve maintained a passing interest in the career of Stephen Jones, otherwise known as the man behind Baby Bird.
As the Bird, Stephen manages to make lo-fi, stream-of-consciousness love songs interesting to those of us who aren’t a) myopic or b) intent on saluting the magic of Sebadoh for the rest of their lives. We’ve had to invent Band Maths to describe his odd combination of Beck, AR Kane and the Go-Betweens, because such things can’t possibly hang together without a strong framework. “I’m not stood quivering behind a mic, writing songs in my room. I’m not exactly a shy, retiring person. Could you dispel that, please?
And I don’t eat fish fingers.” Fine. In reality, he’s a top chap, nobly battling the hecklers who come to his ‘on’t'nest’ residencies (“They’re the kind of witty folk who probably just think they’re trying to help,” he tuts). What they see when they ge there is robust readings from any one of his 400-strong catalogue of songs, delivered with glitz and aplomb. If the glitter, costume changes and Mr Showmanship turns suggest a certain theatricality, it’s because Stephen has recently escaped the stage, having mucked in with an anti-theatre group for a good few years before getting on his Baby Bird perch.
“I hate to describe it as ‘performance’ because my mum and dad think it sounds well pervy. We got lots of funding and 1 got to see every city in England so it was worth it, but Baby Bird came along at the right time for me.”
Stephen’s profligacy has resulted in a ridiculous bidding war, won by Echo late last autumn, as well as the hatching of five full CDs of Baby Bird, released in limited editions. “Think of them like demos. We’ll release the most popular songs from the five of them in the springtime as our fist major-label record, after I’ve had the chance to record them with the people in my band.” And with that, the busy Bird flies off. Robins feathering their nests have very little time to rest….