Birds of Maya are a psychedelic power trio who have been operating real inconspicuous like out of their North Philly basement for the past ten years or so. This year, they blew away a lot of floppy minded types with their three song, double LP opus, Ready to Howl, on Richie Records. Seeing how they are the type of guys who live for the jams and not the glory, they were real suspicious of Vice wanting to interview them. It took a lot of cajoling, hoop hopping and trade upon trade of original Groundhogs vinyl to get them to talk. I hope you understand the sacrifices we make to hip you to the latest heavy goods.
Vice: Can we get some sort of background on you guys? You dudes seem to work in a mysterious fog…
BOM: Birds of Maya started somewhere between 2000 and 2004. We're not quite sure. Our first album, Vol. 1, was originally a CD-R we recorded between 2004 and 2006. Holy Mountain put out an LP of it in 2008. That, as well as Ready to Howl, were basement recordings. We record nearly every practice with a mic randomly thrown somewhere in the room, most of it is unlistenable because we practice at full volume in a 10 by 10 concrete space in the basement. Usually the tapes get thrown in a box somewhere and accumulate. Every couple years we listen to the tapes, and the jams that sound good may or may not become albums.
You did a traipse around the country in a van this past spring to promote your double LP on Richie Records, Ready to Howl. How'd that go?
Yeah, for a week. Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Columbus, Pittsburgh, and then back in Philadelphia. Our first show was at the Horrible Fest at Now That's Class in Cleveland, which was a wild time. As soon as we got there we saw some dude playing ridiculous songs to a tape deck in a dumpster behind the bar during the beginning of a thunderstorm. Lots of other cool bands. The whole thing is kind of a blur. Right before we played, a noise band started a fire in the basement. We walked down the stairs to check it out, and the place was THICK with smoke. There were people just standing there watching this dude making noises over this pretty large fire. We thought for sure someone was going to die, but fortunately no one did. Someone put out the fire, and then we played.
Did any of the bands you played with stick out?
Puffy Areolas were great. In Chicago we played with Bitchin Bajas and Brett Sova, who were both just one dude, but played really epic sounding stuff in this warehouse. Everyone in the place kind of evaporated into couches and the floor.
How about that Mount Carmel? Did you play with them?
We did play with Mount Carmel in their hometown. Super nice dudes. They wanted to hang out after the show, but they had to take their drummer home because he's in high school, and they never came back.
Let's talk about this Ready to Howl double LP that came out over the spring. I heard it's the soundtrack to a movie. Is that true or are you having a laugh with us?
Ready to Howl is an actual soundtrack. The movie is still being made. We have no idea when it will be completed. It's a highway movie about revenge. Everything we've seen of it so far looks like it's going to be a hit.
Where do you guys live in Philadelphia?
We live in Kensington and have for seven years. All of our music has been recorded here. Most of our friends live around here. Earlier this year, Blues Control moved in next door. Most of the members of Megajam Booze Band live within walking distance. Two blocks away there are some galleries that had bands a lot this summer. We have great BBQs nearly every week. Not too far away is Paesanos, which is definitely a favorite spot--excellent pork sandwich and some big hot dog/bacon thing. We used to frequent Aramingo Diner at 3am for Tex Mex burgers, but people started getting shot there.
You guys got the Philly legend Harmonica Dan to jam with you for your "tour only" Regulation 7". That's pretty awesome. I remember seeing that guy hanging out back in the day at the Philly Record Exchange and shows at the Khyber Pass. How'd you pull that off?
Yes, Harmonica Dan is a Philadelphia legend. He knows everything about good rock music. He is the kind of guy who can lay a record on you that you've never even heard of but will blow your mind. And he'll do this every single time you see him. He would come to a lot of our shows, and we started jamming with him in Megajam Booze Band. The Regualtion 7" recording was the first time he ever played with Birds of Maya. At this point, if he's at our show, most likely he'll be playing at least a few songs with us.
So do you dudes have any future plans for the band? Or will you just take it as it comes?
Just playing music. Sometimes in front of other people.
What would be the ultimate bill for you guys to play on?
Not sure. But we kind of want to play with Greg Ginn's band, Jambang. We have not heard good things, but someone told us that if you get him stoned he will jam with you. So maybe that can be a goal… I don't know.
Anything else you wanna mention that I might have forgotten about?
Birds of Maya at Johnny Brendas
Birds of Maya guitarist Mike Polizze's side project Purling Hiss has a brand new 12" entitled Hissteria on Richie Records. They will also be touring with Kurt Vile throughout October and November in the U.S.
You can purchase Birds of Maya's Ready to Howl here.