- Who is that masked man? Nigel Bird's identity is a secret to some.
Nigel Bird is having an existential crisis. The British singer-songwriter and his trio are slated to appear this Friday night at the Black Sheep. The problem is, neither Bird nor his trio exists.
All of which has also made it difficult for Nigel and company to accept an invitation from a British entrepreneur who, after checking out their purportedly London-based MySpace page, offered them half-hour slots at a trio of U.K. festivals.
The opportunity was passed up for financial reasons: It's a long way to the U.K., especially if you're coming from Colorado Springs.
"I wanted to do something that was so different from leer43 that it would be hard for people to connect it," says Bird perpetrator Brandon Metz of his decision to leave a band he'd started in high school and follow in the conceptual (if not musical) steps of Jethro Tull and Molly Hatchet. Metz figures that "after three years and 10 albums, it was time."
The immediate catalyst for the decision, he says, was an illness that put the band on hiatus this spring: "It sucked, but there was also no stress. I didn't have to worry about going to a show and going through all the motions and putting all the effort in and then having 10 people there wanting to drink and talk to their friends and text each other more than hear music. That's when the Nigel Bird Trio came around. I wanted to do something that was so different from leer that it would almost be hard for people to connect the two."
The singer-songwriter was also tired of the glamour-thon that characterizes popular music from Elvis to emo.
"I'm sick of music being about who's popular and who's good looking and whatnot," he says. "I remember back in the early and mid-'90s, I mean you had God! J Mascis. That's an ugly man right there. But Dinosaur Jr., that music is amazing. And so I decided to make up this character Nigel Bird, because he's not popular, he's not good-looking, he doesn't even exist. And that way, it has to be about the music."
Which, as you may have guessed, is a few levels more subdued than the alt-rock/Americana/you-name-it that made leer43 a mainstay of the Springs club scene. But while "Summer is Over" has the kind of reflective quality found in Nick Drake and Ben Watt songs, Metz does get to let off some steam on "Monkeys Watching Monkeys on TV," which critiques a culture that "teaches little girls to look like prostitutes."
Metz, as it turns out, isn't completely alone in his trio. Prolific drummer Chris Combs, who also played in leer43, is along for the ride as well.
"Before he joined leer, Chris was going to move to Nashville to be a studio drummer, which I think is kind of his calling. I mean, as you know, he plays in every band that exists," Metz says.
In addition to the upcoming show, the duo can also be heard on a "self"-titled debut album due out next week. Metz plays guitar, keyboards and everything else except for drums. He even wields the mallets on a toy xylophone, the one percussion instrument on which he figures he can hold his own against Combs.
"I don't want to brag," he says, "but just wait until I get my endorsement from Playskool."