Simon Leach, guitarist and founding member of Perth band Little Birdy, speaks to Cara Williams about their latest album release, ’Hollywood’, hectic lifestyles and retro suitcases.
I’m into hot rod and custom cars. Simon tells me when recently discussing Little Birdy’s latest album release, ‘Hollywood’. I’ve got a garage at my house so I go out there and start cutting and breaking parts of my body accidentally and then try to fix them before I go back on tour”. “I have had a few accidents before I’ve gone on tour” he continues. “It’s been a bit like ‘uh oh.. I’m gonna get in trouble for that one!’”
Since their acclaimed debut album release ‘Big Big Love’ back in 2004, an album that sold over 60,000 copies and perched itself in a comfortable position in the top 5, Little Birdy have gained themselves a strong reputation in Australian music. The band has had five Aria award nominations over two years and six of their songs have crept their way into the Triple J hottest 100 over the past three years. They have toured nationally with REM, and played many Australian festivals, including the Livid festival, Homebake and the Big Day Out. This year they are on the bill once more for the Homebake Festival, they are playing at the Falls Festival and have just been announced in the second line up of the Big Day Out.
Releasing the follow up album to ‘Big Big Love’ was always set to be a daunting task for the band, but Little Birdy’s latest album release, ‘Hollywood’ has once again seen the band flying high in the Aria charts, with the first single off the album ‘Come on Come On’ becoming the bands highest debuting single at #18. Produced by John King, who is famously known as one half of legendary producers, the Dust Brothers and has worked with the likes of Beck and the Beastie Boys, Hollywood shows the band have musically united in an unexpected way. “I thought a few years ago we were pretty good. Now we’ve found an even better dynamic. Hopefully it will get better rather than worse!” laughs Simon.
In Little Birdy’s biography ‘Hollywood’ has been described as ‘a mystery unfolding’. The music on the album is rocking, dancey, cheerful and upbeat, full of synthesizers and electric riffs. But in complete contrast the song lyrics are dark, deep and introspective. “We just wanted to do a dancier, synthetic kind of vibe, but it can easily be interpreted as cheesy. Katy’s lyrics are always retrospective and reflective and there’s still some quirky little lines- if the lyrics were all happy joy joy I personally wouldn’t like the songs”.
With the album title seemingly comparable to the tone of the album as a whole, one may ask why the band chose to name the album ‘Hollywood’. “It’s not all about the immediacy of the title”. Simon explains. ”There’s a whole bunch of different levels to the word Hollywood. It’s got a seedy underbelly buts it’s also glamorous. You can be what you want to be there, you can be fake or you can be real”.
Since the release of ‘Hollywood’, Little Birdy has been experiencing quite the Hollywood lifestyle. The band are everywhere at the moment, from their top 20 single ‘Come On Come On’ being blasted on commercial radio to making a range of television appearances, from just completing a series of in stores to the commencement an immense national tour. So how does Simon handle living such a hectic lifestyle? “Personally I just try to makes sure I get enough sleep really, there can be long days and when you get tired you can get irritable. I think when everyone is tired and irritable its best to try and keep things as relaxed as possible”.
So what does the guitarist from a band that are crazy touring the country do during his spare time? “I usually go home. I’ve got 4 cats so I hang out with those, and they’re all indoor cats so they’re pretty crazy”. “I like to collect things- I may as well start with the suitcases. I collect old retro suitcases- but the really cool ones. I’ve narrowed them down to about 8, I used to have a lot more but I hid them in the garage”. “I’ve got old car radios” he continues excitedly, as his passions begin to emerge. “The really cool ones. You can pull the radio out and it’s a picnic radio, you can have a little picnic”. I collect 8 track players, they were big in America and England, I have 86 track cassettes, like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, lamps, books, old hot rod magazines- that’s just in my lounge-room! I have been classified as obsessive”.
One would think that with such an infatuation with collecting various things would be a rather expensive habit, “My girlfriends like ‘Have you been on Ebay again?’ ‘No’.. ‘What’s that package then?’ ‘That’s… um.. uh.. That’s Little Birdy Stuff’”.