Two Wounded Birds

Two Wounded Birds are whipping up a storm with their surf rock ‘n’ punk-tinged roll, that’s immediate, infectious and haunting all at the same time. They’ve had incredible reviews for their debut album Two Wounded Birds, out on The Drums guitarist Jacob Graham’s label. Standout tracks include Night Patrol and To Be Young. They’ve played Glastonbury and toured with The Drums, Glasvegas, Grouplove and Black Lips. With echoes of The Beach Boys, The Ramones, The Cramps and Elvis, yet firmly rooted in their native seaside Margate, the band’s reverb-laden sound is captivating fans. The band is made up of Johnny Danger on vocals and guitar, Ally Blackgrove on bass, Joe Stevens on guitar, and James Shand on drums.

Holiday Friends Recording Co

Rock ‘n’ roll

It’s a brave band that starts their live set with an instrumental, but Two Wounded Birds exude confidence in their rock and roll sound and make it seem like the most natural thing in the world. There’s a timelessness about them, with a retro vibe that draws you in, yet enough of a punk bite to keep things fresh. Their album Two Wounded Birds is winning hearts all over.

It’s a rock and roll record. It’s just influenced by all the music we really love. Chuck Berry, Link Wray, the Beach Boys, The Doors. It was just one of those kind of records. So, we take the bits we like from them and we just, I don’t know, enjoy, make some good rock and roll music.

A big factor in the band’s songwriting is the place they call home - Margate on England’s Kent Coast. It gives them the space and the vibe that they need, and features in their video for All We Wanna Do. Johnny told us about the role it played in creating their album.

I think it helps not being in a big city. For me it did with writing this record. I think it’s just a nice place to live Margate, it’s quite inspiring being by the sea. I like coming to different places, but it’s kind of nice to get back home and have that kind of clarity of, you go out and see all these things, experience all these things but then you come back home and that’s when I do a lot of the writing, you know you have the time to kind of reflect on things and make a record and make some songs and stuff. All the songs on the album were written in Margate.

So with all that reflection, is the album based on very personal experiences?

It’s all very personal but I think that’s the best way, and I don’t really like to divulge too much about it. It’s important to keep it a mystery but it’s all personal and I think the best songwriters, they’re writing about the things that maybe they think about but they never say, they’re kind of like the unspoken things. And that’s as much as I want to divulge.

That made us wonder whether there is some heartbreak in there somewhere.

You don’t want to tell people about that kind of stuff because it’s just like, that’s the whole point, it means different things to different people.

Two Wounded Birds have a very distinctive sound and they are influenced by some legendary producers.

We’re all really big fans of Phil Spector and reverb’s a big part of our sound, it always will be. There’s records that he made like There’s No Other (Like My Baby), and To Know Him Is To Love Him, the Teddybears one as well, just have a nice sound when you listen to them.

It’s really dreamy, like it’s always in a fantasy world, and I think that’s down to the production skills. The same with Joe Meek as well. These kind of producers who really delve into what they’re doing. And I think that’s something that we’ve really been inspired by. I think that’s as important to us as the actual song, the actual process of recording, capturing each mic placement and that kind of stuff. It’s something we’re really meticulous about.

We asked whether they used lots of effects for recording their album.

It was just a lot of plate, I think plate is the one, plate and spring. Plate is a very kind of Phil Spector-y one. And it’s just messing around with the delay times and the decay. Hearing the records you like, the drum intros, the reverb on the vocals and the way it’s panned, all that kind of stuff, (we) pay a lot of attention to that and do a lot of research on those kind of things. Just mess around with it, just kind of get the sound that we’re after. I think, our main sound is just a lot of like spring and plate really.

The vocals have a very particular sound on the album and we wanted to know more.

It’s a shame we didn’t really have access to the sheets of plate that they used to use, but we kind of did the same thing where the mics are picked up in another room and it’s just lots of plate thrown on it and a bit of echo as well and a bit of delay. When you throw it all together and you mix it with an EQ, the vocals almost distort and you get a nice kind of crispness, there’s a long trail and it just sounds really nice when it just sits on top of everything.

Johnny also told us about how he gets his live vocals. Recreating the guitar sound on stage must be a challenge, but they told us they keep effects pedals pared down.

At the moment the reverb we’re using is some Holy Grails and a couple of other ones which weren’t very popular but for us they work really nicely, they’ve got a tremolo on there built in and the reverb’s kind of unpredictable. It has an effect on it where it kind of pings and pangs of its own accord so it’s not determined by the way you play, it just happens randomly. Reading reviews, a lot of people didn’t like it but for us it works really nicely so we use that.

We use the ‘63, the emulation ‘63 of the Reverb Tank as well on some songs. For our more Dick Dale tones. We don’t use that so much any more. It’s a really good pedal.

A new Space Echo pedal is providing hours of fun too, making them feel like kids again!

There’s more info on each band member – just click below or on the left hand side.