It’s been a minute since we checked in with Sing, Bird of Prey, the self-proclaimed “f***ed up rock n’ roll” band hailing from the Lehigh Valley.
The guys – including David Nicholas (Guitar/Vocals), Dave Aon (Guitar), Cliff Albert (Drums/Vocals), Todd Ashenfalder (Bass), Tommy Heinick (Trombone/Trumpet/Keys/Vocals), and Andrew Valish (Percussion) – have been busy, recently returning from a Midwest tour that saw stops in cities like Chicago, Cleveland, and Kalamazoo.
“It was awesome,” said Nicholas of the tour. “We hadn’t taken this band out west at all, outside of maybe Ohio. It was awesome to play Chicago. It was a Saturday night, there were a bunch of people, and the venue was awesome.”
The band did much more than play music in their travels. The guys also made it their mission to find as many pinball machines as possible (Albert plays competitively), and can tell stories of late nights that turned into early mornings and regrettable culinary delights.
“In Cleveland, we went to this place called The Happy Dog,” Albert recalled. “They have specialty hot dogs with more than 100 toppings. Mine had pimento mac and cheese, chili, and Froot Loops on it. Todd got one with peanut butter and Froot Loops. I also got tater tots and Spaghetti-O’s on top.”
Added Heinick, ”I found out the hard way that, if you want to go around and travel and try out foods you wouldn’t normally get around here, by Day 2 you’re going to feel terrible.”
A Happier Direction
Now back from tour, Sing, Bird of Prey is feeling good, and has embarked on a more organic writing process for its follow-up to 2016’s “Crystal Embryo.”
“For the other record, we wrote to the album and tried to make an album from front to back,” Nicholas noted. “We want to go about it by throwing anything down, writing as many songs as we can, and just letting the ideas come naturally. Instead of trying to write any specific story, we’re letting the story write itself.”
While “Crystal Embryo” can be described as dark and mysterious, the new material promises to showcase the band’s more optimistic side.
“The only thing we’re trying to stick to is making it happier, more upbeat, and more fun,” Albert said. “We’re definitely trying to pop it up a little bit.”
“We’ve started going subconsciously into a happier direction, but all of these songs we’ve come out with so far, you can still listen to them, compare them to the old record, and say, ‘That’s the Sing, Bird sound,’” Heinick elaborated.
Experimenting with a new creative process naturally presents a challenge, which the band has used as an opportunity to expand its boundaries.
“Growing up in punk bands, punk bands have a very limited number of things we can do,” Nicholas said. “With this band, it took a while for me to get comfortable with trying something I would never think of in the past. If you’re not playing punk, you don’t have to follow the rules like that.”
The addition of Heinick’s horns and keys to the writing process also presents new possibilities. The multi-instrumentalist brings a classical background that adds complex influences including jazz and funk into the mix.
“Tommy came into the band after we recorded the other record,” Nicholas said. “This time, he’s in it from the start of writing, so a lot of the songs have him as a major part rather than an embellishment.”
“With that being said, I don’t have any background in writing, so I’m just as much on a journey as anybody else,” Heinick added.
The band continues to journey on together, which the band claims has recently led to some breakthroughs to help the new project on its way.
“The original idea (for one song) came out randomly over a year ago, and it’s always something we’ve wanted to incorporate into a new song,” Heinick recalled. “Recently, we added some intertwining leads, guitar effects, synth stuff, and simplified the chorus itself down. Dave (Nicholas) said immediately, ‘I know exactly what I’m going to do with this.’”
After letting the creative juices flow, the band then takes its new material to trusted friend and producer Kyle Pulley at Headroom Philadelphia. The band credits the producer with helping them refine their songwriting, leaving them with a more accessible finished product.
“Kyle showed us how to put the songs together,” Albert noted. “When we first started, we thought everything should just be jammed out. He basically trimmed the fat and added the chorus.”
Sing, Bird of Prey will surely showcase some of this new material live. The band is slated to play Thursday at Da Vinci Science Center for its Science Social Club Brew Night, taking place for ages 21+ at 6 p.m. at the Center’s location at 3145 Hamilton Blvd. in Allentown. Tickets are available here.
After additional dates this spring, the band also hinted at a possible tour in June, which it hopes will reach as far away as Texas.
For updates, including new releases and live show information, visit the band at singbirdofprey.com.