Between takes at "The Bakery," producer Andy Baker's home studio in Athens, guitarist/vocalist Amber Valentine and drummer Ed Livengood have to mentally shift gears to look back on Bird.
"The first track on the record ["Ides of Light"] was written the week of September 11," says Valentine. "It really scared me because I wrote the lyrics based on the concept that we are in the same sort of social context now that the Roman Empire was, right before the fall. It just freaked me out. And every time we played that song live, I would get chills down my spine. I couldn't really deal with it, so we just put it aside a while."
Valentine dug the track out last summer and decided it was the perfect opener for War Bird. "It sets the theme, and it works as the opening piece," says Valentine. "Every one of our albums has a thematic core and the time was right for this idea."
Jucifer's Bird soars over a sonic battlefield of ominous guitar and thundering percussion, augmented by Valentine's deceptively sweet vocals. War is a brief, blunt and bloody battle, compacted to fit the time constraints of an EP.
"The EP is a nice, short format," says Valentine. "You have to be concise in a small space and it feels good to work fast and stay within those boundaries."
While Jucifer enjoys the confines of the EP format, the band -- and Valentine's massive stack of amplifiers -- doesn't limit itself to one town as easily. Because of a nearly perpetual touring schedule, Jucifer was away from its Athens home so often that Livengood and Valentine needed something bigger than a van to fit their lives and their equipment in. "Our gear had gotten so out of hand," says Livengood. "Our trailer was too heavy for the van to pull, so we ended up with a Winnebago."
Eight months after Jucifer settled into its rolling home away from home, Livengood and Valentine were told that the house they'd been renting in Athens had been sold. They were given three months to empty out the property, once home to Nashville Pussy and a slew of other infamous luminaries.
The pair returned home to jettison their extensive collection of pop-culture items and more than 3,500 records five days before the place was gutted. "Everywhere we go, people still say 'You lost your house? What did you do with all those records?'" says Valentine. For the, um, record, fellow musician Bryan Poole (Elf Power, The Late B.P. Helium) is now the proud caretaker of the vinyl goodies.
"Getting rid of our stuff was a very freeing thing," says Livengood. "Now we have more time to work on music and just enjoy being together. Living like this has really been nice for us. We travel all over the country, stay as long as we want, and then go somewhere else. It's great because we are gypsies, anyway."
Both swear nomadic living has opened up their creative side. As Livengood heads into the studio to listen to a playback, he notes that the band already has plans for the next album after its in-progress project.
"We are still an Athens band, but we are from everywhere now. We're gonna keep playing music and traveling forever," says Livengood. "And when we get old, we can work at an RV campground or something."
"At first it was scary to embark on such a kinda crazy plan," says Valentine. "But now we realize how foolish we were for being so scared. We're so happy doing this and happy with ourselves. We love each other even more than ever and we love the band even more [than ever]."
ooooohhhh, I'm so excited!! I can't wait to see them together!
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