In our latest Band Interview, we chat to electronic alt-rockers Poisonous Birds’ Tom Ridley talks about art, motivations and more.
How are you today?
It’s release week, which is super exciting but also nerve wracking and weird, but it’s also like 30 degrees in Bristol and I’m moving house. This week is a lot, but I have a lot to be thankful for.
What is the mission statement for the band?
I don’t know if there is a mission statement. Art doesn’t need a goal. It’s a process and making things that I think are important or beautiful, or both, makes me happy.
What would you say, aside from the obvious right now, is your biggest challenge as a band?
We’re doing something a bit strange, but not entirely avant-garde – too weird for mainstream festivals, not weird enough for the club-adjacent experimental festivals like Berlin Atonal et al. Our audience doesn’t seem to exist in one community either – but instead we seem to find fans all over the place.
That probably means we’re doing something original though, so I take all the difficulty as a compliment and stick to my vision.
What motivates you outside of music, think specific people and places
My closest friends, experiences, and other art outside of music. I find more inspiration in fine art and books. There’s fertile ground there to respond with new ideas, rather than deriving ideas from someone else’s music.
I love the visuals and the art for the band, what inspired that?
Thanks! I started painting for myself, as quiet entertainment. I guess my process was pretty similar to how I make music: do a big gesture, have a look at it, edit it a bit, delete it if it’s bad. Then make another one to compliment it…I guess through kind of mirroring my musical process with paint I accidentally arrived at a look that felt totally right to accompany the record. I’m not sure whether this will be a running theme. My tastes change pretty quickly, so we’ll see where I’m at next time.
Talk us through the ideas around ‘We Can Never Not Be All of Us’?
Each song is just a little vignette – a small idea, explored through lyrics and sound. Some are not very grand, just capturing a mood. Some are bigger in their ambition. I’ll leave those themes to be discovered by listeners / lyric diggers (they are all online).
The title is something that Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), whom I admire so much, said in his Song Exploder episode (that’s a podcast). He was referring to racial tensions between Texas and Mexico. I finished the song just before the recent renewal of support for Black Lives Matter, with particular focus on Bristol when the statue came down, and it made that song feel even more pertinent. We really can *never* not be *all* of us, no matter how hard some factions choose to try.
Thanks for your time!
Thank you for yours, have a lovely day.
Interview: Dom Smith