Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Up Close and Personal with Mehko and Ocean Birds
"The most exciting thing for us right now... Everything," answers drummer, Chris. "We're in a world of firsts."
True, Mehko and Ocean Birds are brand-spanking new, the spring chickens of Denver's music scene. Everything is relatively up in the air, still, particularly the lineup. Lead singer and ukelele player Stephen only arrived in Denver about four months ago, at the beginning of this summer. Why Denver?
"Everyone here is doing something, and they have this openness. You have house shows here, that never happens other places. The crowds care about what's going on onstage, they aren't just looking for a cool place to smoke a cigarette." As for Mehko and Ocean Birds, Stephen explained the recent origins of the group, sitting on the curb out front of the then-closed Larimer Lounge, where the group had just finished their set.
"'Mehko' is what I called myself as a solo act. As far as the Ocean Birds... anyone can be an Ocean Bird. This isn't my band, it's all of us. Everyone is as permanent and as impermanent as anyone else. How it goes is, we meet someone, play together. If they're in, it's because we just got that feeling - that they really care, that we can make music together."
As for now, Mehko and Ocean Birds consists of seven talented musicians. Stephen on vocals and uke, Chris on Drums, Allison and Isaac on the beautiful cello, Micah on keyboard, Kate on 'dream vocals,' (as Stephen put it), Leslie on tuba, and Robert on trumpet.
"We're like a molecule with various neutrons and electrons darting around," Chris adds.
If that's true, the group, whoever happens to be playing at the moment, has a bond as strong as those in a diamond when they are making music together. Everyone involved is a part of what they love most, and it's very evident when hearing them play, or talk about why they play.
Chris expressed the most important part of a live performance: "With this band, specifically, everyone likes to use this venue for catharsis - let emotions flow, and find what makes us human."
"You can talk to anyone with music," agrees Allison. "you can't do that with anything else." Stephen follows the metaphor: "Like, with a painting, you can work on it for a week and then find out it doesn't work. A song either happens or it doesn't."
Mehko and Ocean Birds does what it does, all for the right reasons. But, readers not familiar with the band's work might be wondering, what exactly is it that they do?
"We do magic, we play love songs. Aggressive, chaotic, passionate love songs," offers Micah. Stephen recounts the band's practice session days before the show.
"We were playing at my place, we had been at it for over an hour, and my roommate busted in, and put his hand down and said "Man, you can't do this right now. It's too much for me right now." Instead of being miffed at his roommate's obstinacy, the group took it as a compliment - indeed, the music they produce is out-of-this-world, in every sense of the term. The cohesion of the rag-tag-seeming selection of instruments is something that can only be fully appreciated when you see the band, perhaps at their next show? More on that later...
Mehko and Ocean Birds are presented with some pretty unique challenges - they're new, and they are a daunting 7-piece act. Timing practices, sussing out the sound balance (for example, between a ukelele and a tuba,) and properly memorizing their rapidly growing catalogue all come to mind for the group. Yet, Mehko and Ocean Birds are on an exponential trajectory at this point. A month from now, the group hopes to have doubled their repertoire, and to get in to the studio for some professional recording time.
In the more short term, the band has a couple shows ready for your listening enjoyment.
Friday, August 28.
The Tea-House (house show)
721 Elati st, Denver, CO 80204
All Ages, No Cover.
Friday, September 11
The House for Clownfish (house show / cupcake bar)
2001 S. Clayton st, Denver CO 80210
All Ages, No Cover.
*note: Yes, I did attend their show at Larimer Lounge. Yes, I did intend to review it.... No, I was not allowed into the club - alas, Larimer Lounge is strictly 21+. The show this Friday will be reviewed here!