Birthday Boys write 30 songs in 30 days, lose their minds (and one band member)

By in Culture

HOLLY CULP
Arts Editor

“This one is called ”˜Day Six,’ ” said Graeme Kennedy of the Birthday Boys. The crowd is small, but enthusiastic, and the show is coming to a close.

“Day Six” is one of over 20 songs that Kennedy and his band, the Birthday Boys, have written in the past month. Songs like “Day Six” are a part of a 30 songs in 30 days challenge that the group concocted for themselves before embarking on the treacherous journey that is the trans-Canadian tour of their latest album, Bad Blood. The songs are written, recorded and uploaded to YouTube every day. Every fucking day.

If you’re wondering what could possibly compel a travelling band to attempt to write a song every single day for a month, they’re wondering the exact same thing.

“We needed to do something to keep ourselves busy,” said drummer Matt Paige.“So we tossed around some ideas, none of which were good by any means.”

Finally, after brainstorming for a while, Kennedy came up with the idea that would eventually end up being to his detriment since he ended up writing the majority of the songs alongside Jordan Mack, the co-lead singer.

The project that began as a way to pass time on the road turned into something bigger when, after the first song went up, the video received around 300 views in a day.

“That was when we realized, ”˜Shit, I guess we got to write another real song.’ We were honestly expecting like 30 views. There have definitely been days when we’ve been like, ”˜Let’s just do something stupid.’ ”

Surprisingly, it has not yet come to that. Visiting their YouTube channel reveals both the range and the talented songwriting of the group and there has yet to be any half-assed songs. The dedication is somewhat astonishing considering that the tour has hit some major kinks in the road.

The band hadn’t made it halfway through their tour when Jordan Mack fell ill and had to return to Ontario after the band broke down in Cabano, Que., for two days, missing both their Montreal and Ottawa dates (which, the band admits, are the first shows they’ve ever missed). As a result, the rest of the group had to tweak their entire set to function with the three of them.

“The first few shows were rough,” said Matt. “It felt like we were a high school band.”

Eventually, the group found their footing and the 30 songs in 30 days project turned into less of a curse, playing some of the more notable songs at their shows. Mack helped them out by continuing to write and record songs even though he couldn’t join them on tour.

In addition to breaking down, missing shows and losing a band member, the tour has suffered other misfortunes. While in Kamloops, B.C., the Stanfields (the band touring alongside the Birthday Boys) were stranded when their van broke down. While the lead singer John Landry had to keep going, opening as a solo act before the Birthday Boys, the rest of the band is probably still (by the time this goes to print) trapped in Kamloops.

“It’s funny, this tour started out with 10 people and is ending with four,” said Paige.

The Birthday Boys have a pure rock ‘n’ roll sound with country-influenced subject matter. In accordance to that tradition, many of the songs written over the past month were inspired by the tour itself.

“A lot of them,” said Kennedy, “especially the further west we got, were inspired by conversations I overheard. I spent a day or two in my friend’s coffee shop in Vancouver on East Hastings, the rough part of town. This son and his mother came in and they were hilarious.

“They got into this argument about whether or not his grandmother was a prostitute. He was insistent that she was and his mother would say, ”˜No, she was a thief. She would go to bars all dolled up and drink with men and then steal the money when they weren’t looking.’ So I wrote a song about a mother teaching her daughter how to pickpocket.”

The aftermath of the tour, which Kennedy (dubbed in the Edmonton “Day 21” video the “Never gonna quit despite all this shit” tour), is still up in the air.

The fate of songs upon the project’s conclusion is still a big question.

“Most of them will probably be forgotten,” said Kennedy. “But there are also some keepers.”

Visit birthdayboysmusic.com to see all 30 days of song. To help the Stanfields get the fuck out of Kamloops and back to Halifax, visit thestanfields.ca/bringushome.
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