The Messenger Birds on a Rock Revival, Connecting During Coronavirus and More

2020-05-01

The Messenger Birds – Story by Anne Erickson, photo by Trevor Dernai

“We are very fortunate to come from a city with such an incredible legacy from the venues to the players,” says Detroit’s Messenger Birds

Listening to The Messenger Birds’ music, it’s apparent rock ‘n’ roll is alive and well. The guys have a bluesy, real rock ‘n’ roll sound that begs to be played live.

The Detroit rock duo — Parker Bengry (vocals, guitar) and Chris Williams (drums, vocals) — checked in with Audio Ink to discuss the Detroit rock scene, the group’s new song “Play Dead (Just For Tonight)” and the current coraonvirus pandemic. Read the full interview below, and find The Messenger Birds online at TheMessengerBirds.com.

Audio Ink: The Messenger Birds have this great, blues-influenced garage rock sound. What draws you to this kind of music?

Parker: I think coming up in Detroit’s grungy punk rock music scene has a lot to do with it. We’ve just always been drawn to music that has a raw energy and intensity to it. It’s a bit of an adrenaline rush and a way to channel all our emotion into this one thing– kind of a cathartic release.

What are your earliest memories of making music, and what artists do you remember hearing?

Chris: Parker and I used to jam in my parents basement when we were freshmen in high school. It’s a big part of how we became friends. I remember us listening to a lot of Led Zeppelin and The Who back then. We called ourselves The Basement Brothers.

Congratulations on your new track, “Play Dead (Just for Tonight).” Why do you think this moment in history is a good time to release this song?

Parker: Thank you! You know, it’s strange. We wrote this song towards the end of 2018, and it was more of a snapshot perspective of what was happening at that moment in time, so we worried a bit that the longer “Play Dead” went unreleased, it may not have the same impact, but thankfully we turned out to be wrong about that. It almost feels more appropriate now that we are all social distancing and isolating ourselves, and a lot of the lines now seem like foresight into what we are currently dealing with in this pandemic. We’ve been wanting to put this out for a while, and we ended up making a last minute decision to release the song and make a video for it about three weeks before it actually came out.

You’re from Detroit. What do you love about the Motor City and its musical legacy?

Chris: We’ve both been very active in the Detroit music scene for the past 5 years or so, and when we’re not playing shows, we’re attending them. We are very fortunate to come from a city with such an incredible legacy from the venues to the players. You can find almost any style of music being performed in the area on a weekly basis. Detroit has always had a specific vibe to it that no other city can compare to.

Let’s talk coronavirus. It’s had a massive impact on the music community. How have you seen COVID-19 change the world around you?

Parker: The music industry and everyone that works in it – touring musicians, techs, agents, managers, promoters, club owners, bartenders – have been hit especially hard by COVID. I mean, the list goes on and on. So many festivals and tour dates have been and continue to be cancelled or postponed indefinitely. We had some dates in the works that we held off on because of the domino effect that started around the time that SXSW got cancelled. It’s really disappointing to have that stripped away, but already we’ve seen some really cool, innovative ideas that would have never come about if things were still business as usual. Lots of livestreams – the Code Orange one set the bar pretty high. Our friends in The Armed launched a free platform called Isolate/Create that invites people to collaborate with artists like Converge, Chelsea Wolfe, La Dispute and more. I don’t think any of that would exist otherwise. It’s awesome to see all the ways people are staying connected to each other.

What do you think concerts will be like once things open up again?

Chris: It’s hard to say for sure. Maybe a little slow at first, but once the virus is gone and people are safe to attend, I imagine it will be crazy. Fans are going to need it back in their lives desperately. I know we will.

What can fans do to support their favorite bands right now, without concerts?

Parker: Buy merchandise. Buy music. Support fundraisers for your local clubs and their displaced and unemployed staff. Without clubs, there would be no music industry. We all need each other to exist in this crazy world.

What’s next for you guys?

Chris: When it is finally safe to tour again, we will tour again. We are currently writing new music, and we also just started a little web series/ podcast called “We Got Ourselves (and Kevin) Into This.” In the series we chat with many of our friends in the music industry about the music industry with topics ranging from interesting facts all the way to wild tour stories.

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