REDBRICK, BIRMINGHAM UNI
Starred & Feathered
The prolific Steve Jones, aka Baby Bird, is the wackiest AVANT-GARDE POP PERFORMER in this part of the universe.One of the bands tipped for their first taste of sugary success this year are Baby Bird, a five-piece guitars and keyboard outfit currently raising a few eyebrows of the music intelligentsia with their decidedly curious approach to pop.
With three albums released in recent months, no sign of a single and a shirt collection that makes Elvis look like a product of Percy Sugden’s wardrobe, Baby Bird are clearly not living by the book. “It was never a big masterplan,” explains frontman Steve Jones, the singer-songwriter behind the hundreds of tunes recorded on a four-track that form the band’s present menu.
In fact the best part of two years was spent trying to get some interest from labels, only for the door to be repeatedly closed quicker than it was opened. “We’ve only been underground through necessity,” adds bassist John, who along with the other three members of the band joined up with Steve when he moved to Sheffield.
After two more collections of songs which are “musically illiterate, computer-free and way beyond the cleanliness of sound and hi-fidelity” (according to the artwork of I Was Born A Man) on Baby Bird Records, the band will venture into the studio for their first release on Echo. This follows a period of headhunting by several major labels, but a certain level of autonomy was a significant factor in the band’s final choice: “the main thing is not the money but the creative freedom,” Jones states with apparent sincerity.
Listening to elements of the recorded Baby Bird material alongside some of the opinions offered by the music press, one could be forgiven for expecting Jones to have some sort of entrenched grudge. “A lot of people ask if we’re bitter about something.” he offers, “But it’s never been cynical.”Indeed as a live act. Baby Bird are a revelation, transforming their lo-fi and damp bedroom origins into an accomplished act of good-humoured entertainment, all delivered with glitzy swagger. Combine this with lyrical pearls such as “I love you like a fleshy brain, I love you like a Great Dane” and is it possible not to smile?
Apart from all the tawdry peculiarities hatched by life in the modern world, what are the motivations behind Jones’ songs? “I like Tom Waits a lot, hip-hop, any simple beautiful ballads, which is something which we hopefully get close to. But it can be anything: Andy William’s, Frank Sinatra…” However, he is quick to point out that none of these interests make an overt appearance in his music: “I’m obviously not influenced by anybody,” he asserts, maintaining eye contact long enough to ensure these words make their way into print.
As interest in Baby Bird begins to soar, the band are finding themselves looking at the prospect of stardom, but this doesn’t appear to be of too much concern. “We’ve set up a history of ourselves,” Steve says “but we’ve got to move up into the mainstream without losing our principles.” So what will the answer be when the phone rings and it’s Top of the Pops? “Yes please!” comes the answer, notable in both its enthusiasm and stereo delivery. Tip top.