Those Mockingbirds Talk Growing Up Influenced By Nirvana During the Emo Scene, “How To Rob a Bank”
Bergen County, New Jersey’s Those Mockingbirds are four guys and a lady that you should be on the lookout for in the rock scene. Emerging from the lush music scenery of New Jersey can be a daunting task for most bands. With years of experience and a steadfast approach of remaining true to their music, Those Mockingbirds are taking flight with recent coverage in Alternative Press and a video on MTVu. We were able to catch lead singer Adam Bird at the band’s recent stop at Spike Hill in Brooklyn to discuss everything from being in the scene to craft beers.
Sensible Reason: Adam, massive congratulations for having “How to Rob a Bank” featured on MTVu. Between that and being in Alternative Press and other publications what’s it like seeing your group grow through the media?
Those Mockingbirds: It’s weird as hell, honestly. (Laughs) It’s the kind of stuff when you’re starting out you dream about doing. They feel super unattainable and then it happens and you’re like, “What the fuck is this? This is bizarre.” I gotta say the thing about being on MTV is that it doesn’t feel like you’re watching your own video. Just the fact that it’s on TV and Eminem will be on and then us…it doesn’t feel like it’s me anymore. This became its own thing (laughs). It’s cool. It’s just weird.
SR: Is that something you think you’ll eventually get used to?
TMB: Maybe. The first time I saw us on TV, I thought I’d freak. Instead I saw I guy that sort of looked like me and he’s playing a song that I know. (Laughs)
SR: I’m loving the “How to Rob a Bank” video. What was it like for you fighting a kid?
TMB: Thank you. The video was all Tory’s idea. Fighting a child is a very, um, delicate process. He was awesome, and we had a lot of fun. I kept referencing WWE stuff to him. At first I got my generation wrong saying we’re gonna do the Hulk Hogan thing. Then I realized he was too young for that, so I brought up The Rock, but then it dawned on me that he was even too young for The Rock. So, we talked John Cena.
It was fun. It was really fun to choreograph a fight with a kid. Their brains are so imaginative. Until you become a teenager, you are into what you’re into and you’ll try anything. His parents were there so we could discuss things we wanted to do like, “You’ll swing at me” and all this. It was a lot of fun.
SR: You guys are in the midst of a tour of the east. Are there any spots you’re especially looking forward to?
TMB: We really like the Webster Underground in Hartford; we’ve been there before. Boston is one of our favorite cities, and we’re returning this time. We’re going to play the Middle East this time, which is huge for us since that is THE venue in Boston. We love Providence, D.C.. We’re going to a lot of cities that we love. As far as first time places, we’re going to Ohio. We’ve never been out there before. Even when we’ve gone to Chicago and Indiana, we skipped Ohio, so now we’re playing there. That’ll be real cool…as well as Buffalo for the first time. We played upstate but never there. I’m psyched.
SR: Being from New Jersey means having a huge music lineage from Sinatra to Springsteen to the Gaslight Anthem and tons more. What was it like growing up in that environment? Was it more of a challenge or an inspiration to you guys?
TMB: It was both in different ways. It was a challenge especially for me when I was growing up and getting into bands. The emo scene was going on. Thursday and Saves the Day were getting big. While I like those bands and respect the hell out of them, it was never my thing. It was hard to get anyone to pay attention because what I was doing was grunge, alternative rock. It wasn’t popular at the time. At the time it was like if you weren’t playing pop punk or emo or hardcore-related music, you were a weirdo. While I love those bands, Saves the Day has one of my favorite records and Thursday are sweet human beings that make amazing records, I gained a lot from being in the scene and Eyeball Records. Being around those people when I was forming my first band was really inspiring.
To meet the My Chem guys or Murder By Death guys and girl and see them explode, it made it feel inspiring on one hand and “Oh, I’m not doing this?” on the other hand. When I say that, I mean I wasn’t doing music that was anything like My Chem, so it was hard to compare. When you’re going through anything and trying to achieve something, it’s hard to look at where you’re at and appreciate it. You’re like, “Oh my god. Why am I not at the next step? Holy shit.” At the time it was like, “I’m not doing emo. Shit, what do I do.”
SR: Did you ever think of switching it up to get there quicker?
TMB: No. In all honesty, I’ve never been capable of that. I don’t play music because I want to be rich or famous. If I wanted those in modern day America, I’d go on a reality show. I play music because I love writing songs, and I’m not going to write songs I don’t want to play. It sounds cliche, but it’s the truth.
I got into Nirvana really late. That was the band that connected with me really fucking hard. When everybody in New Jersey in the early 2000s were doing the emo thing I was collecting Nirvana vinyls and the Foo Fighters. It’s more accepted to be a Foo Fighters fan now, but I remember at nine seeing them and being excited that that guy [Dave Grohl] was in Nirvana. That’s the music that impacted me. I always felt like I was on another track, and one day someone would pay attention (laughs).
SR: Hypothetical Question: Those Mockingbirds have one last show to play. You can pick any venue and any group you haven’t played with before. Where and who do you go on with?
TMB: Oh geez, I have two. My main answer would be to reopen Maxwell’s [Hoboken, NJ] as the proper Maxwell’s. Right now it’s kind of operating as the ghost of Maxwell’s. I would play there with Cave In. That’d be awesome as shit. Cave In, Murder City Devils, us and Murder By Death. It would be a show people would probably die at.
I’d also love to one day play at the Reading Festival. It shows how much I love Nirvana since all their big shit happened there. It was their place. Because of Nirvana, I have to play there. I don’t care who else is on the bill. I’ll be there.
SR: What’s something that you’re listening to right now that people would be surprised to hear?
TMB: That’s a good question because there is so much shit. I’m super into trip-hop right now. Massive Attack, Portishead, Tricky, and even though they’re not trip-hop, Air. Air is so fucking good it’s stupid. I got into them through a Pittsburgh group called Black Moth Super Rainbow. Every time I’d play them, people would tell me to listen to Air and it’s god damn incredible. What else? Sneaker Pimps, Snake River Conspiracy.
In addition to them I’ve been listening to a ton of pop music. I kind of ignored pop for the last few years, and I like pop songs. As a writer, you have to appreciate what a pop song is. You have to appreciate they know what they’re doing. You can knock it for the package that it’s in all you want, but when it comes down to it, if your favorite obscure indie band came out with “Wrecking Ball,” you’d be stoked. But because Miley Cyrus put it out, you might not want to admit it. That’s the place where we’re at where it has such an emphasis on shock. Reality TV pushed us into this direction of quick, digestible things. As good as Miley Cyrus is, she’s more known for her antics and it’s at least equal to her talent. It’s crazy.
SR: I saw on your Facebook that you recently went on tour of the Carton Brewery. What’s your go-to brew coming off stage?
TMB: Oh my god, that’s far more impossible than who do you want to play with.
SR: How about what are you drinking now?
TMB: I can give you some breweries. I really like Uinta. They have a beer called Doobie, my favorite black IPA. I also love Carton and Kane from Ocean County, NJ. Neither one is very big just yet, but they are incredible. When we went there, I was looking at everything. I don’t know anything about the brew process, so it all looked crazy and huge to me. That’s probably what somebody who doesn’t see it from the band’s perspective as well. I also like the Dogfish guys. They got me into it, kinda like Nirvana. They both will always be my favorite, because they got me into it and caught my attention.
SR: We’re gonna get you out on this one; the floor is yours. What do you have for our readers and fans out there?
TMB: We’re going to be putting out more singles and music videos soon. We’ll be on the road, and all that info can be found at ThoseMockingbirds.com, which is a hub for all of our social media stuff. It’s all right there, and thank you.