Aylesbury-based quintet Birthday Card – Josh Saw (vocals), Conor Richards (guitar), George Harrison (synths), Leslie Adriaans (drums), and Tom Ritchie (bass) – make huge, dancefloor-ready alt-pop tunes that are a little bit 80s, a little bit The 1975, a little bit MGMT. Bright, synth-heavy bops that have so far seen them share stages with the likes of SPINN and Glass Peaks – and they’re just getting started. Josh and Conor fill us in.
Hi guys, how’s it going? Are you having a good day, what’ve you been up to?
Josh: Hey, Dork. We’re all good, thanks. We’ve been enjoying the sun, playing too much PlayStation and doing a bit of writing.
Why are you called Birthday Card then, are people disappointed when you don’t arrive with a fiver from their nan?
Josh: I heard ‘birthday card’ used as a lyric in a Sufjan Stevens song and though it was unorthodox and for some reason stood out. A fiver?! Surely your nan must be blessing you more than a fiver on your birthday.
What has the band been up to so far? Give us the tl;dr.
Conor: Two singles – ‘Shy Away’ and ‘Radio Star’ – and show after show up and down the country.
How have you been impacted by lockdown, have you had to cancel much?
Josh: We’ve had to cancel a few shows and since the lockdown obviously haven’t been able to rehearse together. Though in some respects the lockdown has had a positive impact on us creatively. Now that gigging is out of the question, we just spend our time making beats and writing.
Do you reckon this virus business is going to set new bands back for a bit? It must be tough not being able to play shows and festivals.
Josh: It certainly feels odd not playing a show every couple of weeks. I don’t think new bands should dwell on the fact they can’t gig, though. It is what it is. Everyone’s still adapting to the ‘new normal’, and I think that will give bands some time to hone their craft and write stronger material.
What’s the new band scene in Aylesbury like? Is there much to do?
Josh: Pretty much non-existent. For a town that was once somewhat renowned for being a music hub, it’s now quite the opposite. There’s not a great deal to do, but we all make the most of it.
What have you got coming up, do you have new material in the pipeline?
Conor: We’ve been working on new material the whole of lockdown actually! The only benefit of not being able to play gigs is that songwriting has been our only focus. Between us, we’ve probably demo 20 or so ideas. We’re working on our next single at the moment which will be coming out in the summer. It’s a really happy one, so we’re looking forward to getting that out there.
Where do you find inspiration for your songs?
Conor: We listen to a lot of different music between us so it would be easy to pick out some favourites that probably slip into our music quite subliminally. But in honesty, quite a lot of our songs start from very small loops or minimalistic ideas that one of us will put together by ourselves. We then bounce them off of each other and tend to jump on whichever idea sparks inspiration in the rest of us. It’s always exciting seeing the notification that someone’s dropped some audio in the group chat because it could be absolutely anything.
Music aside, what do you all do for fun?
Conor: We hang out a lot as a band. Going to gigs, watching football, going to the pub. All of which have been taken away from us through lockdown, funnily enough! We’re actually seeing each other as a band for the first time since March this weekend for an emotional social distancing BBQ reunion.
What’s on your band bucket list? Do you have anything specific you’re aiming for?
Conor: Venue-wise, the Roundhouse has always been on my band bucket list. But our dreams are much bigger than that, naturally. We’ve always said if you don’t want your band to be the biggest it can be, why do it?
Who do you think is the most exciting band or musician around right now?
Conor: There are loads of new and exciting artists right now, but just one off the top of my head personally is Caroline Polachek. She’s been around a long time with Chairlift but her solo record from last year is just a near-perfect modern pop album to me. She only has something like 800,000 listeners on Spotify (small in the grand scheme of things), but I genuinely think she could be massive as a solo artist in the future.
Tell us a secret about yourselves?
Conor: Our latest single ‘Radio Star’ re-uses an element from an old, old Birthday Card song, the first song we made a music video for back when we started the band. Our Day 1’s might be able to spot it. That’s all I’ll say!