On the Record with Active Bird Community

Danny Evans, Arts Editor

Active Bird Community formed in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY — a quaint suburb outside New York City — when the band’s members were just 11 years old. Ten years later, the now New York City-based quartet is more active than ever. Its brainy, shoegaze-influenced take on indie rock has earned praise from publications like East of 8th, Cereal + Sounds, Showspark and IndieBeat.

Active Bird Community performed at the ’Sco with fellow Hastings-on-Hudson indie-rockers Primate House last Friday, receiving a warm welcome from attendees. The show is one of many the band has played in support of its most recent release, I’ve Been Going Swimming, recorded at Salvation Recording Co. by Christopher Daly, who has also recorded critical darlings like Porches and PWR BTTM. The Review sat down with Active Bird Community to discuss its next album, playing gigs with its musical influences and the trials of dealing with being in a band whose members are spread out at colleges across the country — including Oberlin, where College senior and Active Bird Community bassist Zach Slater is a student.

How were your shows last weekend at Oberlin, Dickinson College and Kenyon College? Have you played these locations before?

All of the shows went really well. We’ve never played at those schools before, so it was super exciting. At Dickinson, we played at an on-campus house that had a calm, coffeehouse vibe, but once we started playing and people showed up, the energy really took off.

The ’Sco at Oberlin was great. The sound people were super accommodating, something we’re not very used to seeing that much playing around New York. The show went really well. Sound was perfect, and the crowd seemed to dig it.

Kenyon, I think we all agree, was the best night of the tour. We played at a friend’s house, … and we thought the floor was going to cave in. There were a ton of kids packed into a tiny room, going nuts. [It was] definitely one of our favorite shows.

How do you deal with Zach [Slater] being a student at Oberlin? Does this create difficulties in terms of being an active band?

We’ve been playing several shows a month for pretty much all of college. Thankfully, Zach has been able to make it to most of them, but when he isn’t able to … we have friends who step in on bass.

What have been some of the most rewarding and exciting moments of your career as a band?

We’ve played with some bands that we’re fans of, like Pile, Elvis Depressedly and Rubblebucket. One of the most memorable moments for us was definitely hearing ourselves on the radio for the first time in high school. We’ve also recorded a bunch over the years with several different producers, which has inspired us to keep writing.

Do you have a particular recording that you’re most — or least — happy with? Do you enjoy listening to ABC recordings?

We’re really happy with the album we released in the fall called I’ve Been Going Swimming. It is an accumulation of songs that we wrote throughout [our] four years at college. We are most excited for the album we are about to record.

What’s next for Active Bird Community?

We’re releasing a music video for “Pick Me Apart,” the single off I’ve Been Going Swimming, and [we’re] recording a full-length in March that we’re really excited about. Since we’re all graduating, we’re definitely going to make the band the central focus and try to tour and record as much as possible.