Architecture In Helsinki
Cameron Bird isn't sounding too hot. Stuffed up, sniffling and in general, quite depleted, Bird is suffering from a bad cold. "The road, you know?" says Bird dryly in between sniffling. It's an elusive comment, but one that makes total sense if you were to take a look at hometown heroes Architecture In Helsinki's recent touring schedule. This year alone, the band has had three separate tours of Europe, have made stops in exotic touring locales such as Vilinus and Beirut and are currently winding their way down the East Coast of the United States. They'll finally make their way back into the Southern Hemisphere, including a stop at the Rhythm and Vines Festival in Gisborne, New Zealand. Sensing that Bird was hiding something salacious up his sleeve, it was worth asking if alcohol was the cause for his sickness.
"No, not really," answers Bird. "I try not to overindulge too much on the road. But I do have a whole whack of herbal remedies and the like by my side, so I'm hoping to get this thing cleared up in the next day or too."
Bird's ability to run through a handful of interviews while fighting a cold and still stay focused on the next day serves as a symbol for the resiliency of Architecture In Helsinki as a whole. From humble Fitzroy roots in 1999 to opening slots for Death Cab For Cutie, Bell and Sebastian and David Byrne, it's been a steady climb for the band. And it's not one they're willing to give up on any time soon.
Before the release of Moment Bends, their latest full length, members of the band were living in various locations across the globe. While this kind of distance can often drive some bands apart, Bird insists that this physical disconnect actually brought the band closer together when they did return to the studio.
"We were all so fresh with ideas. We'd all been writing so much that when we did start recording, things began to emerge like never before."
Bird can't be faulted for sounding proud of Moment Bends. It's an expansive listen, weaving together synth-laden textures and genuine pop numbers all infused with a general sense of buoyancy and elation. Though Moment Bends does indeed borrow heavily from pop luminaries of the past, it still contains a certain indie sensibility. What's more, it's been nominated for the J Awards as album of the year.
So are Architecture In Helsinki on the verge of becoming the next full-on pop sensations? Bird isn't so sure.
"[The band members] are fans of pop sure. I don't know who could actually resist a well-crafted pop song. Stuff like Michael Jackson, I mean, you can't really deny that. But we're fans of all kinds of music so I don't really want to limit us. Our next record could sound be taken in any direction."
Architecture In Helsinki's genre-bending formula has certainly served them well so far. Fingers Crossed, their 2003 debut full-length, was full of the rich and textured pop tunes that the band would soon become renowned for, and included a hefty variety of instruments, from glockenspiels to tubas. From the beginning, Architecture In Helsinki could not be pinned down. 2005's In Case We Die and 2007's Places Like This saw the band grow on each past release.
When it came time to record Moment Bends, which was a two year procedure, the band returned to Melbourne to record in Buckingham Palace, the band's home studio which is named for a massive photo mural of Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham on the studio wall.
Bird maintains that the band was treated "very well" upon their return, and save for "A bunch of new clubs opening and some others closed," it's still the same warm, vibrant city that they once called home.
This renewed relationship with their hometown could be the reason for their newfound, hook-laden approach. One thing is for certain; after a year touring clubs and theatres, Architecture in Helsinki will soon return to their second home, as it were.
For three years before their 2011 tour kicked off, the band essentially gigged only at festivals. Whether or not this constant exposure to thousands as opposed to hundreds of fans will continue to impact their sound remains to be seen. But early in 2012, the band will return to the festival circuit, playing one of the country's most venerable festivals, Big Day Out. Between some of today's pop heavyweights, Architecture In Helsinki will bring their sound to the masses who've pined for them as of late.
"It's our first time playing the festival, and we couldn't be more excited. I mean, it really is a big day out, isn't it. I can remember as a teenager, saving up my cash, getting together with your buddies and just spending the day listening to all kinds of acts."
Big Day Out will be a chance for Architecture In Helsinki's sound to not only continue growing, but to provide inspiration for their future. Cameron Bird may be a little under the weather now, but it's hard to imagine anything keeping both himself and his band down.
BY JOSHUA KLOKE
Architecture In Helsinki play all the Australian dates of the 2012 edition of Big Day Out, including at the Melbourne Flemington Racecourse on Sunday January 29, 2012. Tickets are on sale now from bigdayout.com.