Q&A with Stephen Wells of Birthday Club
Although Birthday Club is a relatively young group, having only formed in late 2015, the combined experience of Stephen Wells, Valeria Pinchuk, Josh Cobb and Travis Peck has made the band stronger, smarter and more ambitious than ever. With their debut EP, Lighten Up dropping on September 30th, there's no doubt that Birthday Club will be ending 2016 with a bang. Fans can listen to their single, "Having Too Much Fun" below, and catch Birthday Club live throughout November.
Interview by Shannon Shumaker
Can you tell us a little bit about Birthday Club for any readers who may not be familiar?
Birthday Club is a band from Houston, TX, made up of four pals who like to play wacky pop songs. We also really like sleeping in our van.
As a relatively young group, how do you feel your past experiences in other bands and other projects has affected the way you approach Birthday Club?
Despite the fact that we've only been around for about a year, I'd say that we've all got a pretty good amount of experience between the four of us. For me, the previous bands I've played in really helped me get a better idea of the direction that I wanted to go. It's really fun and exciting to have a group of people around who come from different musical backgrounds and experiences (good and bad) because I think we all have a lot to learn from each other. Valeria started out playing Indonesian Gamelan Music and accordion in a band called Trio Musette here in Houston. Me and Travis started out playing a lot of classic & progressive rock before our old band Featherface. Josh, our bassist, also plays in his project Mojave Red and really loves dreamy psych rock. It makes for some really weird listening sessions in the van, jumping from Albanian Folk Music to Tangerine Dream.
What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned as musicians that you’ve taken into this project?
I think the most important thing that I've learned has been to trust yourself. I can say that following your intuitions and gut feelings tends to leave you with really good results. Whether it's a big decision like choosing who you're going to work with on an album, or a smaller one like choosing who gets to sit in the front seat of the van, doing what feels right won't leave you wishing for a different outcome. Do the thing!
You’re just getting ready to release your debut EP, Lighten Up at the end of this month! What are you most excited for listeners to hear on it?
I'm really excited for people to give the record a spin from start to finish. I'm so happy with the way these songs turned out and it's really great knowing that people will get to have their own individual experiences with them.
What goals did you have in mind when working on Lighten Up?
The main goal was to just show up at the studio and honestly record the way that we were feeling at the time. The EP revolves a lot around the idea of letting go, which definitely informed the decision to cut straight to tape. I really wanted to get a clear snap shot of everything that was going through our heads at the time. I think we did that.
Where there any events in particular that inspired the EP?
Yeah, definitely. The year preceding our recording sessions for the EP really helped form the songs. My old band breaking up was really challenging for me, so I moved back to Houston, hoping to find an outlet for these songs that I had been hashing out while on tour. Once I began working on the songs and putting the band together, I started to feel a transition into a different way of seeing things. I think that feeling for a musician is a pretty good indicator that it might be time to book a studio session.
You also just released “Having Too Much Fun” from the EP! What makes this song special to you?
I think that song is really special to me because it was written pretty quickly. Sometimes it can take a while to pin down the arrangement or sound of a song, but that one seems to have kind of just developed by itself.
What would you like listeners to be able to take away from Lighten Up?
I can't really say that I'd like them to take away anything in particular because I think that music really is so open ended. There are some songs that I've loved for years that I refuse to look up the lyrics to just because I really like my own interpretation. I think that people will come up with their own associations and interpretations in the moment, and that's what gets me really excited.
On top of the EP release, you have a few tour dates coming up over the next couple of months - what can fans expect from these upcoming shows?
Yup! We're hitting the road for about a month, starting in October! People can expect a lot of hair flying around, thanks to our drummer Travis, and some really loud, sparkly sounds.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Any time! I'd like to thank YOU for taking the time to chat with me. So, here it is. Thank you.