‘The World Keeps Spinning’ For Black Bird Hum

Australia’s Black Bird Hum lay down a heavy two-chord jam for their second Color Red release World Keeps Spinning. The spellbinding rhythmic foundation puts listeners in a trance to recognise the reality that the world keeps spinning no matter how life gets—every day is both a grind and an opportunity to get up and hop on board for the ride. Stylistically, the track is equally influenced by the rousing roots rhythm expression of Steel Pulse and the creative liberties of Fat Freddy’s Drop as demonstrated by bewitching flute parts courtesy of Little Green (Amy Nelson).

Like their debut Color Red release My Side, the track is complemented by a “b-side” dub, aptly titled World Keeps Dubbing, produced by longtime friend and mixing engineer Ryan Gambrell. The track was the bands first to be fully composed and produced during the pandemic period. Starting as a shared bass line from bassist Tim Sampson, singer Jon Panic later added vocal melodies before the band had a chance to workshop the arrangement in between lockdowns. The band tell Hi Fi Way more about the single.

How is the build up to the release of the single World Keeps Spinning?
It’s our second release with our new label Color Red in the States, so it’s been fun working with them to get this all happening, and really nice to be able to have that support to get it out there.

What is the story behind the single?
We started writing it in 2020, in between lock downs – there were a few jams we snuck in and this one was one of the ideas we kept coming back to. We laid the rhythm section down in one of our last sessions together and then back-and-forth with each other online to get most of the rest recorded. I think the lyrics, while not being a direct reflection on the whole pandemic are definitely a reflection of what’s going on – the continued transfer of wealth upwards to the few, the precariousness of life for everyone else.

How hard has the last 12-18 months been for the band to make music?
Yeah it’s no secret that music and the arts have suffered over this period. Our band has been no different. Thankfully though, in Australia we had a pretty good first year and after that first small wave subsided here we were able to get together a few times. We organised a writing session out in a cabin in the woods where we worked a lot on new tracks, but also spent some time recording horn parts and BVs for this new track which was really good. A lot of other instruments you can do in isolation but horns really helps to all record together.

Has it been a bit weird to have the benefit of time to work on new music?
It’s actually not worked for us at all! We’ve found over the last few years that we’re at our best creatively when we’re all in the room together. It’s been a real evolution from me bringing a finished song to the band and them doing their thing over it, which is how we started, to sitting in a room together with a blank canvas and all of us throwing paint at it together at the same time. We’re so lucky to have got to this place where everyone is comfortable being creative in that spontaneous kind of way, cause it can be pretty vulnerable, but it’s become the best way for us to create. So in this period, whilst we have had more time, it hasn’t been more time together so it’s been horrible!

Do you think the Black Bird Hum sound has changed much with this single?
This song is definitely a good example of the evolution of our sound, an evolution that has come from that group creativity I just mentioned. When we get together it’s not unusual to drop into a very simple two or three chord jam – Tim, our bass player will find a mesmerising bass line to lock it down and you close your eyes and just sit in the groove. Sometimes I’ll sit there skanking away, and open my eyes and realise we’ve recorded 15 minutes of sitting on two chords. It’s meditative and productive at the same time. We’ll go back over those 15 minute jams and find the best parts to weave into a song. So yeah, this one is very much a representation of where we are and probably where we’re headed.

What are the go to albums that get the band feeling inspired?
It varies so much – we’re a 10 piece band and everyone is into wildly different music. Saying that, there are artists and sounds that you can hear clearly in the rhythms that we use as foundations now – Roots Radics and Sly and Robbie for example. I think we have found a way of working together that is based on their genius.

Are there plans for more music in 2022, maybe an album or EP?
We’ll never stop. Making this music feels so good, we’ll always be carving out time to meet up and continue to make it. We do have a backlog of tracks now that would be nice to release, so maybe the next one will be a full album to get it all out there. It depends how much time Ryan (Gambrell, our engineer and good friend) has to mix it all!

Are feeling more optimistic about more regular touring this year?
Australia has gone Covid-wild in the last month or so, so we’re not getting too excited about touring just yet, but we are desperate to play again. We really miss the live shows, and festivals.

What’s next for Black Bird Hum?
More music and hopefully more gigs!

What’s something that most fans wouldn’t know about the band?
We record and produce all our music ourselves. Our drummer Jeff rented this amazing house in the inner suburbs of Sydney and he turned the lounge room into our rehearsal / recording studio. New roommates who moved in were briefed before signing on and if they didn’t like it they didn’t move in! It meant we could make music all day / night and we had our recording equipment set up to capture anything good. We’re so lucky to have had that space, it’s been such an important part of the growth of this band.

Interview By Rob Lyon

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