Most local bands tend to limit their numbers to three or four members apiece—and for good reason.
Anyone who has spent time in a band knows that more does not always translate to merrier. It’s often difficult to round everyone up for practice and to deal with multiple writing and arranging influences. It’s hard to simplify and let the songs breathe when you have six people playing their eager little hearts out. And, remember, it is oh-so hard to balance those oh-so-precious budding rock-star egos. Trust me, it’s hard.
Sure, there are exceptions. Salt Lake City’s Vile Blue Shades, for example, manages to keep it more or less together with seven or so contributors rounding out the pack. Most bands, though, are content with the trio/quartet configuration.
But take note: The local freak-folk collage known as Oh! Wild Birds make it seem easy.
Not long ago singer-songwriters Savannah Bouton and Scott Lee started tinkering around and were soon joined by a violinist, followed closely by Jeremy Asay who answered Bouton’s ad on Craigslist looking for a drummer. Asay is not a drummer but he wanted to jam and the resulting three-hour idea fest cemented the deal. It was at a gig of sorts that percussionist extraordinaire Ross Westwater walked up and noted wryly that the trio needed a drummer. Bouton agreed and soon after they all started officially playing gigs as Oh! Wild Birds. When one violinist departed, Asay’s friend Ryan Berger stepped up and into the band that same day. Months later, after finally accepting the fact that their sound needed a metronomic bassist, Bouton asked boyfriend Jared Whear to join the fray.
It sounds complicated but, according to the band, the ease with which they assembled—then quickly got to playing and then quickly got to recording—seemed so natural it just felt right, a bit like fate.
And that’s the trick. Oh! Wild Birds sound and feel as if they have been a local mainstay for quite some time now. But the band with the exclamation point has only been flitting about the State of Salt for around a year and a half. And if you want to get technical about it, the band’s lineup as it exists on their debut So Long Cowboy has only been solidified since mid-January or so.
Such has been the fast and wild ride that is the Oh!
In fact, when Whear joined, the band was already halfway through recording So Long Cowboy—a reference to the imminent departure of one of the founding members. This coming and going of members is to be somewhat expected when dealing with six different entities with six different sets of daily life’s baggage. But Oh! Wild Birds is hell-bent on keeping the revolving door to a minimum.
Staying close allows for the merry-goround antics of their playing style—where each member plays multiple instruments including the mighty Theremin. It’s what allows for egos to be dropped to the wayside and an experimental nature to reign supreme. It’s what allows for a boyfriend to join his girlfriend’s band simply because a need for a bassist arose. It’s also what allows for the natural silences and space necessary for six people and more than 20 instruments to share a stage without the expectant wreck of resulting sounds.
Yep, such a tightly knit relationship, such trust, is what allows for Oh! Wild Birds to do what they do so well.
OH! WILD BIRDS CD RELEASE
241 S. 500 East
Friday, March 27