Interview: Tweak Bird plays Verizon Wireless Stage

By Peter Madsen

If the tracks selected during the Snowboard and Freeski competitions are any indication, rock ‘n roll and rap music comprise a good chunk of the playlists folks click through while dangling on the chairlifts. Concurrently, we’ve lined up Chicago rapper Common and Carbondale-cum-LA psychedelic rockers Tweak Bird to split a bill on the Verizon Wireless stage this Friday 5:00-7:00 p.m.

Originally from Carbondale, Illinois, the two-piece Tweak Bird consists of non-symmetrical brothers Caleb and Ashton Bird, who swap vocal duties while thrashing out on their guitar/drum-kit-fueled songs. This past year, Tweak Bird put out their sophomore, 7-song EP Reservations [Volcom Entertainment]. You’ll recognize Caleb’s kaleidoscopic solo (from the song “Whorses”, which you can download below) from our Winter Dew Tour promo and the NBC Broadcast.

Below, Ashton and I (with a little help from Caleb) hash out their years in the sticks before ducking to Los Angeles, the merits of fixed-gear riding and, most interestingly, the group’s misreported dislike of t-shirt-wearing.

You guys were just in Truckee over Superbowl Week-end.

Ashton: Yeah.

As I read on your blog, you were hanging out with some friends. Did you go snowboarding or skiing at all?

A: Well, we don’t really snowboard or ski, but we did end up by a lake.

You guys played a show, too.

Caleb: We played at the “Pastime Club”. It was a pretty great show. It’s a small place, but it got packed in there.

Was the Truckee crowd pretty lively?

C: They were pretty rambunctious.

How so? Were they hopping up on stage and crowd surfing?

A: Not much when we played. But when Candy-Coated played, people started going off, for sure.

At the Toyota Championship you guys are sharing a bill with Common. That’s gotta be a trip.

A: Yeah.

Have you followed Common’s career? Are you big hip-hop fans? I know you’re way into Folk and stuff.

A: I like Rap music. It will definitely be one of the more interesting bills we’ve played. It sounds cool.

Now, I have this really terrible double-pun I’d like to run past you. You guys and Common are both from Illinois—if from very different parts. Would you say for this reason you and him share a “tweaked commonality”?

C: A ‘tweaked commonality’?

That’s pretty cringe-worthy, huh?

A: That’s funny. It’s definitely crunch-worthy. ‘Cringe’? I crunch on nachos.

You crunch on nachos?

A: Yeah, man. I love nachos.

Are you crunching nachos now?

A: No, man.

Oh. What was life like for you guys growing up in the sticks outside Carbondale, Illinois? Did you live on a proper farm, or was it just a house in the country?

A: It was pretty interesting. It definitely wasn’t a farm.

You guys didn’t have any chickens or anything?

A: Well, we had chickens for a little bit. Originally, the land was definitely farm-able, but our parents didn’t really get to that. They were doing other stuff, I guess. There was a bunch of woods. We just lived a kind of meager little existence, but in the woods it was pretty awesome. Carbondale is a town with a mixture of people like that, and they have a university that people from Chicago moved down for. It’s a pretty interesting bubble in the middle of a pretty interesting, ah, state.

When you guys moved to Los Angeles, did you guys experience something like culture shock?

A: Uh, yeah? [Laughter.] It’s way different, man. When had spent time in different cities. But like I said, the town I come from has the university and it’s pretty cultured there. Still, moving to a bigger city was weird. But now that we’ve lived here for a while, it’s not that different. It all works the same.

Is that in the sense that your social circles make the city seem a lot smaller?

A: Yeah, it’s partially that.

People always talk about how crazy driving in Los Angeles is, but coming from a rural area, you guys must be used to it. Which place has the closer grocery store?

C: In Illinois, Wal-Mart was ten minutes away from our house. It was practically in our living room. The drive was much shorter there in Carbondale. Now, it takes the same amount of time to drive to the grocery store as it does to walk. That’s LA, man. LA is kind of weird about traffic. I don’t like it that much. I prefer a bicycle or a bus or a train to a car out here. I like my feet.

What kind of bike do you have? A Road bike, a fixed-gear, a beach cruiser?

A: It’s a fixed-gear, like an old Peugeot or something like that.

Nice. Do you get down with the flatground trickery?

A: No, man. I just ride. But I ride considerably faster fixed because you can’t stop pedaling. That’s more the idea. I used to ride my bike to work, and it would take me forty minutes. My brother was like, ‘I ride a lot faster on a fixed-gear!’ Since getting my fixed-gear, I’ve cut my ride in half.

You guys are signed to Volcom. That’s such a rad company, from the skateboarding- , surfing- and snowboarding-end of things. Do guys interact with the other guys on Volcom?

C: We don’t skateboard or snowboard, so we just keep with the music stuff. That’s a huge company.

Have you guys checked out the Volcom socks this guy Ben Brough did, the Sock Puppet 6-pack? You could put them on your hands and have the puppets play guitar and drums with their mouths.

A: Whaaat? That seems crazy.

C: Volcom is always doing weird stuff like that.

Do you think you’ll stay in Los Angeles for good?

A: For me personally, I’m already living in different places [in addition to] LA. I live in Carbondale sometimes.

I guess because you guys tour a bunch, you might not feel like you’re fully rooted in Los Angeles.

A: Yeah man. In the past three months we’ve only been here about six weeks.

There’s this skateboarder Braydon Szafranski who lives in Los Angeles, and he shares you guys’ affection for not wearing t-shirts. His whole thing was when he woke up, he would step out on his balcony to judge whether he could go without a shirt. Do you guys do something like that?

A: Shirts? I pretty much wear a shirt, I guess. I don’t strip down my naked top-half just to cruise around.

Really? Then why did you guys pose on your album cover with no shirts? I had read you guys like to drive around with no t-shirts on.

A: I guess if we’re out in the woods it’s different. Maybe if I was skateboarding I would take my t-shirt off. You know. You don’t want to have a wet t-shirt on. You know what, though? I don’t even wear shorts that much. I like pants.

Is there anything else?

C: Not really. Tell Common we said hi.

I will.

A: Tell him ‘Tweakbird sends their love.’

Will do.

Download the single “Whorses”