In 2017, Nashville-based indie-folk band Birdtalker experienced the kind of success a rising band only dreams of. With the release of their first major single 'Heavy', about the unexpectedly heavy moments that sometimes arise in a new relationship, they were suddenly surrounded by a glowing and growing buzz.
It was unexpected, to say the least. The band started when Zack and Dani Green, who married in 2012, began writing music together and discovered how well their harmonies blended. Their side project turned into jams with guitarist Brian Seligman, bassist Jesse Baker and now-former drummer Andrew Hubright — eventually producing the surprising success of 'Heavy'.
Capitalizing on that momentum, Birdtalker released their debut album One in 2018, and set about a whirlwind touring schedule that included their Grand Ole Opry debut.
As they began working on their follow-up to One, now with drummer Chris Wilson, Birdtalker saw it as an opportunity rather than a pressure cooker. "We felt very connected to ourselves and the creative process", the band said. "We went in with no expectations, we just wanted it to feel good and have fun".
On their new self-titled album, Birdtalker pair songs about life's weightier moments alongside messages of hope. 'Tides' shows how Zack and Dani have learned to give each other space, while 'Better Days' promises a light at the end of the tunnel and 'Alright' shows what a little patience can afford you in difficult times.
With Birdtalker now out, the band spoke with Holler about what they listened to growing up, how they co-write their songs and what they have planned next.
Where are you each from and how has that influenced your music?
Zack is from Seattle, Brian is from Canada, and Dani, Jesse and Chris are from the south, so we each bring a unique musical taste to the mix and really enjoy sharing our tastes and melding them together.
What did you listen to growing up?
Between the five of us it’s a wide range, from Tom Petty to Miles Davis to George Strait to Fleetwood Mac.
Your debut album was an unexpected success: What was that ride like?
It was surreal to have that level of streaming success with the first music we released. The feeling was hard to relate to at first; we were only looking at numbers on a screen. It started to sink in more when we started touring and got to connect with people live. The whole thing has been incredibly special.
What do you enjoy most about playing music together?
The whole thing is a real gas—it’s such a connective and fulfilling thing to co-create with friends and then to travel and perform as our job.
How do you create space for one another’s creative instincts, even if you don’t agree with a particular direction?
We try to have a creative environment that is open to everyone’s ideas, and then we chase down the idea that feels like it serves the song the best.
What was your favorite song to write on Birdtalker?
'Apes in a Daydream' was so fun to chase down in the studio. The idea was born while we were close to the end of the recording process, so we got to improvise on the track and add fun things to the arrangement like group drums and hums. It was the last song we did together and was a really satisfying way to close out the process.
Who would be your dream collaboration?
Adele, Kings of Leon, Ben Folds, Jacob Collier, or Rick Rubin.
We’re planning to do more touring next year and make more music!
Birdtalker is available now. Catch the band on tour this fall.