Closer Look at Birnam Wood
Indie Volt came across this awesome band and was able to get an interview on their down time. They share the meaning behind the band and also share with us the ins and outs of what makes them tick.
What’s the name of your band and is there a meaning behind why you chose that name?
We’re Birnam Wood. The Birnam Wood is a key part of the prophecy in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and is something of a symbol of doom and defeat for King Macbeth himself. In terms of sheer language, Macbeth is one of the dreariest, most pessimistic works in English literature
Where are you from?
We all grew up in Marlboro, MA and play mostly in Boston.
What would you say the music culture is like in your area?
There’s a great metal scene in Boston. Lots of excellent punk and indie bands too, lots of solid venues. Great people, good beer.
Do you think the music industry is good right now? What would you change about it?
Bandcamp rules. Spotify should pay the artists more. Social media helps get things out but can get annoying when people rely on it too much. For all the pitfalls though it’s probably the best possible time to be an independent band because you can get your music out to so many people on your own. You don’t need a label or anything like that, though it does help, to gain a following and that’s pretty cool. Good music tends to get found, especially through Bandcamp.
What’s some of the biggest problems you had to face or overcome?
Trying not to write the same music over and over; trying do to cool, unique things with each new song; reckoning with the howling void of subjectivity that spins at the heart of each individual, ourselves included; finding new snacks.
What does an average day look like for Birnam Wood? What is practice like?
We practice every week. We’ll jam for a while, run through the set list for whatever show is coming up, work on new stuff. We’re usually at the practice space for 3 or 4 hours a week, although maybe an hour of that time is spent just chatting, catching up, etc.
We see you have done some live performances, where is your favorite place to perform? Where is the one place that you would love to perform at?
Boston and Worcester mostly. Never outside of Massachusetts (yet). We’ve played at O’Brien’s in Allston a good amount; it’s just such a great little dive bar with really cheap beer. We love it. We’d also love to play in the woods, to no one except maybe some wandering kestrels and whatever woodland spirits are still kicking around.
While preforming have you ever gotten stage freight? If so what did you do to overcome it?
We’ve all been in bands together since we were like 15 so it’s never really been a problem for us. Any anxiety or nervousness is just our usual existential dread which is what the beer and weed is for.
How does Birnam Wood come up with new songs? What is the creative process like?
We’ll jam on new riffs we have kicking around and see what comes out of it. Pretty much every song is a combination of different riffs we’ve each written. Sometimes one person will contribute more to an individual song but there’s always something from each of us in it. This usually works out well but also leads to some really clunky messes that we try to force to work until we bail on it, toss the riffs on the scrap heap, and then repurpose them for different songs. Keeps it interesting. Then once we’ve got the music locked down we’ll figure out lyrics. Sometimes the lyrics are drawn from books we’re reading but sometimes we’ll just improvise stuff and see what sticks. Ultimately though the creative process is always irrational and in the moment has more in common with water dowsing or incantation than it does with intentional craftsmanship. Craftsmanship comes after. See Plato’s “Ion”.
What inspires Birnam wood?
In general: metal, folktales, television, horror fiction, the Middle Ages, nuclear war, prophecies, beer, D&D.
What are the names of the albums you have out? Any new ones in the making?
Our new full length album ‘Wicked Worlds’, which just came out in November, is our 4th release. The other three are ‘Birnam Wood’ (2014), ‘Warlord’ (2015), ‘Triumph of Death’ (2017). We also released a song ‘Leno the Barbarian’ on the ‘Deathkiss Vol. 2’ (2018) compilation along with a bunch of other local bands. We’re always writing and working on new stuff so the next album won’t be too far away.
So besides hearing Birnam Wood on Indie Volt Radio, where can we find more of Birnam Wood?
We’re on Bandcamp and Spotify as well as pretty much every other streaming service. So you can find us on iTunes, Amazon, Google, even Napster which we just found out about and think is hilarious.
Any fun facts you want to share with us?
Our first show together back in 2014, before we settled on the name Birnam Wood, was under the name Oak, which we didn’t realize was already a pretty popular metal band from Baltimore, so a bunch of people came to that show and then were really disappointed to see us.