Catch This Tour: Immortal Bird
Our buds in Immortal Bird are hitting the tour trail for a short run of North American dates next month. As you may remember, the band released the acclaimed Akrasia in December, a blistering EP that draped thrashy death metal in texturally-rich blackened dissonance. Oh, yeah, and it just plain ripped. Check the dates below to see if they're heading your way.
The tour announcement gave me a chance to check in with drummer/singer Rae Amitay. She has been doing Immortal Bird as a DIY venture, which would give her the right, after going through literally every industry wringer, to be jaded about the profession. Yet she remains one of the most optimistic and buoyant people I've met. Sometimes, you just know when a person has picked the right career path. She caught me up on the Bird, road life, and what's ahead.
Rae, you're heading back out on the road. I almost feel like we should set up a scavenger hunt. What bands are you playing with? And what can we make you grab to fulfill your new scavenger hunt duties?
I love scavenger hunts! I'm eternally searching for commemorative state keychains that have the name 'Rae' on them. Our bassist has it easy, since his name is John. He just doesn't understand the struggle. Since we'll be in Canada, I'll also try to pick up as many kitschy Canadian trinkets as possible, because I love Canada. As for borrowing souvenirs, our kick-off show is here in Chicago with Pyrrhon and Artificial Brain. I think I would borrow one of Doug's tank tops. I don't think he'd miss it, as he plays shirtless sometimes nowadays. We're also playing a couple of shows with Krieg, which I'm really looking forward to. I feel like I probably shouldn't borrow anything from Neill (Jameson), as he's already had one Chicago black metal musician borrow enough of his shit already.
Seriously though, you wrote a great piece about surviving on the road a few years back. Is there anything you'd now like to add to it?
Back when I wrote my 'On The Road' piece, I was writing it from the perspective of a hired gun. I was touring as a fill-in drummer, and thus it was very much written from the perspective of someone who was fending for themselves. Now that I've been touring with Immortal Bird, I think I'd like to add more 'fun' tips. For example, if you've got time, make a detour to see some weird roadside attraction or museums! It helps break up the monotony of driving, and it makes for a fun story afterwards. Last tour, we stopped in Newtown, Pennsylvania to visit my grandparents. So maybe that's not the best example, actually. I'd really like to make time to visit Holy Land U.S.A. at some point on tour. It's an abandoned Christian theme park in Connecticut, and I think it'd be fun to take some sacrilegious pictures there. Because, you know, metal and stuff.
How are things going with Immortal Bird?
Things seem to be going well for us right now! Of course, I always want to be doing more, but we're certainly busy. After this tour, we'll be getting ready for the studio to record our next album. There are also more touring plans in the works for this year. I feel like as long as we have shows or studio time booked, I can breathe a little easier. Nothing stresses me out more than not having something on the calendar.
Anything new on the horizon?
Yep! We've written a lot of new material, some of which we'll be debuting on this tour. I still need to finish writing lyrics for our newest song, and I need to settle on a name. We've still been referring to a couple of tunes by their working titles, which happen to be "Bacon Plate" and "Milkfart Cat Machine." The former is actually called "Atrax Robustus" but no one seems to want to call it that during band practice. That's what I get for trying to be creative, I guess. At least with working titles we can differentiate between "the new song" and "the new song that's newer than the new song."
The band has been keeping it pretty DIY. Do think that's easier or tougher now than "back in the day"?
One of the biggest reasons why I've kept things so DIY is because I like to deal with booking shows and releasing music very directly. I get anxious waiting around for emails and responses, so I try to eliminate as many unnecessary steps as possible. I'm fortunate enough to have friends who book and promote shows, so it's typically much easier to go through them as opposed to contacting a stranger out of the blue. There are pros and cons to being independent, and I'm not staunchly advocating that we stay that way. But it's been working out pretty well for us thus far, and I've seen it work for bands who are far more successful than we are. I can't speak much for how things were 'back in the day,' but I believe it's easier now to attain more mainstream attention as a DIY band than it was in the past. The metal world is tiny, and everyone knows each other. That can be kind of shitty sometimes, but it can also be an incredible source of support. I know it's been said a million times, but the Internet is a huge component. Honestly, if I see a band pop up on my news feed enough times, I'll eventually listen to them.
You played Southern Darkness Fest which looked like a blast. How'd that go?
Southern Darkness Fest was so much fun. We went through a lot of crazy shit a couple of weeks prior to it, and for a minute there I wasn't sure what the hell we were going to do. Essentially, there was a pre-existing scheduling conflict that we all knew about, but thought we had it handled. Then it turned out that our guitarist and drummer weren't going to be able to make the fest happen after all. We figured that out about three weeks before the fest. So I asked a new drummer to learn the material, but he ended up not being able to commit. I managed to get my friend Jon (Rosenthal) to play guitar almost right away, so at least that was accounted for. But we still didn't have a drummer, and it got to a point where it was just too close to the wire and we didn't feel comfortable adding another fill-in. So, I ended up pulling double duty on vocals and drums, and I had a great time. The days leading up to the show were nerve-wracking, but we performed really well and made a bunch of new friends. The fest was incredibly well-organized and I'm extremely glad that I never considered dropping off the bill as an option.
In your travels, have you noticed any changes within the scene?
I don't know if I've noticed any changes throughout my travels, but one thing I was thinking about the other day was how many metal shows I went to in high school, and how All Ages or 16+ shows are so rare now. It seems like the vast majority of metal shows are 21+, and that's a bummer. It makes me sad that teens in their formative years aren't able to engage as much with the underground metal scene. Their options end up being severely limited -- they can either go to basement shows or massive tours, but most of the events that fall somewhere between those two levels cater to the demographic that spends their money on booze, as opposed to the demographic that spends their money on merch.
How many people have yelled "Free Bird" at a show? How many people have played the Time's "The Bird" in your presence, looking for a congratulatory high-five?
No one has shouted that. . . yet. And so far we've been spared "The Bird." Most of the bird humor comes from writers who pen phrases about us soaring and flying and pecking and such. You know, avian puns. If someone ever yells "Free Bird," the joke is on them, because we'll just play it.
Immortal Bird -- 2014 Tour
10/15 - Cobra Lounge, Chicago IL w/ Pyrrhon & Artificial Brain
10/16 - Coach & Horses, Windsor, ON, Canada
10/17 - Duffy's Tavern, Toronto, ON, Canada
10/18 - Sammy's Patio, Revere MA
10/20 - Saint Vitus Bar, NYC, NY w/ Dead Congregation
10/21 - Mill Creek Tavern, Philadelphia PA w/ Krieg
10/22 - Skid Row Garage, York, PA w/ Krieg
10/23 - Howlers, Pittsburgh, PA
10/24 - Carabar, Columbus, OH
10/25 - TBA, Louisville, KY