Last year, the Toronto alt-rock group Birds of Bellwoods held an album release show at the Mod Club in Toronto for their most recent release Victoria, which actually ended up coming out this past October.
I’m sure a few people are reading that statement trying to understand what I just said –but that’s what happened. One day they thought they were releasing an album to the world, and the next day, their album ended up sitting in limbo for another year.
“We had been shopping Victoria around for a little bit and it came time to release the album and on that night, we suddenly found ourselves in a very serious discussion with our now label E1 Music who had expressed very strong interest in releasing the album through their label,” said singer and guitarist Stevie Joffe.
“We ended up calling all the copies that we sold that night ‘promotional copies for industry professionals’ and then went and signed with the label.”
Instead of touring in support of the album, Birds of Bellwoods spent the last year creating new hype for the album, warming up new audiences for the eventual release with their energetic lives shows featuring their blend of anthemic alternative, folk and pop music.
They found themselves on the stage at popular festivals like Boots & Hearts, Osheaga, Hillside and Mariposa, while also performing support slots with Canadian heavyweights The Arkells and Wintersleep.
Their preview singles to the album, ‘Let You Go’ and ‘Melatonin’ found success on alternative radio, with ‘Let You Go’ spending nine weeks in the Top 40 in Alternative Radio in Canada. They have also amassed more than one million streams in 2018. Their current tour has brought them into Western Canada and they’ll finish the year off with dates in Niagara Falls and Hamilton.
I know what you’re thinking: an independent band signs to a record label and are thus granted the opportunity to tour throughout our nation, playing at festivals and opening for Canadian new-music giants. But, it didn’t happen like that. Their success has been built on years of hard-work, “slugging it out” and trying to reach as many new audiences along their way. With Victoria finally out, they’re excited to finally start building on the buzz that’s been surrounding them since the initial announcement of the release.
“One of the things that everyone thinks that they maybe they shouldn’t: is that a record deal doesn’t mean all that much anymore. You’re not getting a million dollars to make a record. You’re getting a solid partner to bounce ideas off of and to guide you,” said guitarist Adrian Morningstar.
“They’re not your manager,” added Joffe. “They just provide us resources. But, it has been ultimately up to us to know our path.”
Both Joffe and Morningstar fully understand that they are in a great position to succeed, but they like to maintain a great sense of humour about themselves and their band and let the music speak for itself.
Whether they were joking about the origin story of band-member Chris Blades “he’s not a doctor like we explained to you, we actually won him in a poker game,” or comparing the eventual release of their record to “being ready to give birth and being told there’s a better doctor to deliver this baby, but you’re going to have to wait a year to see him,” they both know that they write songs that are introspective about their fears, doubts and anxieties.
“It’s a fun life. What else is there to do but laugh? But in our songs? I would love to write happy music, but really, if you’re always talking about how happy you are, you’re just a dick. I don’t want to rub that in someone’s face,” said Joffe. “In our music we like to create a catharsis that makes us all feel a little less alone.”
Birds of Bellwoods perform at Taps on Queen in Niagara Falls on December 15 with Giancarlo Feltrin and The Scarfones.