TWEAK BIRD'S sonic diversity has landed the LA duo on some very disparate bills.
"We play with bands that, if we were playing in the same room at the same time, you couldn't even hear us. It would just sound like that band is still playing," says Ashton Leech Bird, who drums alongside his guitarist brother, Caleb Benjamin Bird. "But then there are other bands we play with that are super poppy and I'm like, 'We're definitely not pop.' Well, then what are we? I guess we're Tweak Bird and this is what we do."
What the Bird brothers do is on full display on their new album, Any Ol' Way, a well-paced clutch of tunes that live near the heavy-lidded nexus of grimy garage rock, slo-mo stoner jams, and psychedelic pop. Songs like "Weird Oasis" and "Greens" lumber along a bottom-heavy groove, while the brothers croak melodies that recall classic Flaming Lips. "She Preach" does the same until a free-jazz coda invades. "Peace Walker" is a slice of sludge-pop heaven that feels like getting clubbed over the head with a copy of the Nuggets box set.
The Birds grew up in Southern Illinois, where they started making music together before moving to LA and establishing Tweak Bird in 2007. Any Ol' Way is their third album, but the first that's a full realization of the brothers' vision, according to Ashton.
"We totally took the reins on this one," he says. "I think we finally just took some pressure off of ourselves that didn't ever need to be there. And we [allowed] ourselves to experiment more, and that experimentation grew, and it created better energy."
That's the kind of freedom that comes with age and experience and confidence, Ashton says. Tweak Bird is under no illusion that something like a major-label record deal is on their horizon.
"Any vague opportunity to do that, we slammed the door on [years ago]," he says. "And it's like, well, as long as we're not going to do that, let's run in the opposite direction and see where it takes us. We knew exactly what we wanted to get but we didn't know how we were going to get it. The plan was to experiment, and it worked for us and we walked out with smiles on our faces at 4 am."
The result is a sound that's not only heavy and fuzzy and dark, but instantly gratifying. For years, that combination of sounds led Tweak Bird into confusion, Ashton says. But no longer.
"We feel out of place everywhere we go, and so maybe that is why this album feels so good," he says. "We just decided that we're making our own place, and if you wanna come be in our place, we would love to have you there."