Brendan Kelly of Lawrence Arms/Slapstick has a new side project thingy called Brendan Kelly and The Wandering Birds. The new album is called “I’d Rather Die Than Live Forever” and will be out on March 27th on Red Scare. Brendan Kelly talks about the previous Lawrence Arms albums and this new band below:
“The impetus for this project was brought about in no small part because I felt like after the last two Lawrence Arms records (2006’s Oh! Calcutta! and 2009’s Buttsweat And Tears) I had done that particular iteration of punk rock about as well as I’d ever be able to do it. I’m not suggesting that those albums are perfect or even mind-blowing, but they’re the best of that style that I could personally do. I felt pretty satisfied with them, and that satisfaction in turn really stymied my creativity.
After Buttsweat And Tears came out I didn’t really feel like I had any ideas for any new songs, or at least nothing that seemed interesting to me. I also didn’t have a lot of time because I was suddenly a dad. After a while, I started to get really antsy to create something new and different, but I had no direction. I remembered an old interview with Billie Joe Armstrong that I read in like ’99 where he said something to the effect of, “When a song’s lyrics make me nervous, when I’m kind of apprehensive to show people, those usually end up being the songs that turn out the best, the ones that are the result of me stepping out of my comfort zone.” This resonated with me at the time because I had felt so in my comfort zone with the last two Lawrence Arms records that I couldn’t figure out where else to go, creatively.
SO, I decided to start writing songs that made me nervous. I wrote words that came from a much darker place than before, and songs about things that are usually not the subjects of punk rock songs. This record isn’t an autobiographical one, it’s more of an exploration of some fucked up situations and mental states. Lots of these songs are about feeling pretty trapped and caged and the way that the human brain twists and warps when it can’t do what it wants. That’s where all sorts of fucked up crime and deviance comes from and that’s kind of what this record is exploring, content-wise.
As far as the music, I tried to do stuff that was still familiar enough to me that I’d be adept at putting it together, but different enough that I’d still be nervous about the sound. I play most of the instruments on this thing, but I got some really spectacular musicians and producers from non-punk rock backgrounds to help me flesh out the ideas and take it to places I couldn’t have conceptualized myself. The main core of the Wandering Birds is myself, my oldest collaborative partner in the world, Nick Martin (we made our first demo when we were eleven) playing almost everything else, and producers Eric Halborg and Shawn Astrom who are a classic rock/hippy/Smiths fan and a Euro dance music producer respectively. The results, I think, are different enough that there’s no question that it’s not the Lawrence Arms, but my personality and style are still undoubtedly in there. I have a feeling it’s gonna be pretty polarizing. There will definitely be people who hate it or don’t get the lyrics and either find it to be offensively childish or who just don’t get what I’m trying to do. The music also gets pretty weird here and there. Fuck, maybe I totally misstepped with this shit. Who knows? All I know is I’m a little nervous about it and that excites me.
“I’d Rather Die Than Live Forever” Track List:
1. Suffer The Children, Come Unto Me
2. Doin’ Crimes
3. A Man With The Passion of Tenness
4. What’s A Boy To Do
5. Ramblin’ Revisited
6. Dance of the Doomed
7. American Vagina
8. East St. Louis
10. Your Mother
11. Covered In Flies
12. The Thud And The Echo