The Birds of Bellwoods have wasted little time making a mark on the Canadian music scene. The band, has amassed an impressive pile of achievements and accolades in a few short years, including many awards and appearances at major festivals, on the back of their boisterous blend of musical styles.
“I would describe it more as alt-rock, with an anthemic folk-pop twist,” says lead singer, Stephen Joffe.
The band brings their musical blend to Garden Square in Brampton at Friday Night Live on Aug. 31.
As loud and intent as they are onstage, the band’s origin was unexpected. A few years back, Joffe was crashing at guitarist Adrian Morningstar’s Toronto apartment after a bad breakup. He was beginning to overstay his welcome when Morningstar gave him an ultimatum: either get it together or we’re starting a band. Unexpectedly, Joffe chose the second option.
The longtime friends are graduates of the National Theatre School and had been acting professionally for years. They knew upright bassist Akiyama from middle school and, though he’d set off to study music at Montreal’s McGill University, he returned to Toronto and the trio starting experimenting with song ideas. Blades, a professional actor who played banjo, was welcomed into the fold shortly thereafter and Birds of Bellwoods was born.
Their choice of instruments and knack for writing simple, hooky melodies quickly made them a reputation as a folk band. However, the band’s energetic and engaging live performances brought to mind something else.
“This guy came up to Adrian after a show in Kitchener and he said that he loved when punk bands play acoustic,” remembers Joffe. ”And we were like, ‘Oh man, I don’t know if we’re a folk band’.”
Since then, pieces of everything from indie to country to even punk rock are swirled into their sonic concoction and it’s been turning a lot of heads.
“This came from allowing ourselves to make the music that we wanted to make,” says Joffe. “All our influences land very much outside of folk music. We were getting a bit trapped by the instruments we started out on.”
Now signed with eOne Music Canada, Birds of Bellwoods are set to release their debut album, Victoria, in late 2018. The record intends to introduce listeners to join the band’s high-energy musical casserole. The debut single, Let You Go, brings to mind modern international hitmakers like Fun and Mumford and Sons. There’s more to it though, something identifiably Canadian.
“Fundamentally, the single biggest influence on us is the musical community we’re part of,” says Joffe, “There are so many amazing bands coming out of southern Ontario right now and we’re just trying to honour that.”
It seems to be working. They’ve already crossed Canada and dipped into the U.S. for all kinds of dates, including a slew of high-profile Canadian music festivals, from CMW and NXNE to country juggernaut Boots & Hearts to the millennial paradise of Osheaga.
“I think we all, in a lot of ways, live for the live show,” Joffe says. “We want it to be a cathartic experience. We want people to let go of their day and all just sort of shout at each other and sweat it out.”
This may be the most accurate invitation of all for their show at Brampton Garden Square in August.
“We just want to make a communal experience, where we all grow together by screaming, dancing and hanging out.”
Friday Night Live with Birds of Bellwoods is on Aug. 31 at 8 p.m. at Brampton Garden Square. The band, Side Hustle opens. Detailed information for the event can be found online here.
More information about the Birds of Bellwoods and their upcoming release, Victoria, can be found here.