The Bye Bye Blackbirds – August Lightning Complex (Q&A)

Bradley Skaught, frontman of The Bye Bye Blackbirds, wrote the songs for August Lightning Complex during some of the darkest and most anxious times of the past couple of years. Gloomy lyrics and rich, full, beautifully developed pop melodies; nice when a band outdoes itself every time. The Bye Bye Blackbirds gets better with every release.

Things change. What happened with The Bye Bye Blackbirds since the release of Boxer at Rest?

Aside from making August Lightning Complex, very little has happened with us since Boxer! We’ve probably been a little more stubborn in waiting to get back to live performance than a lot of other bands. We’re getting there, hopefully in the not-too-distant future — it’s very odd to have two records out without a single show in support of either so far. Mostly we just rehearse and annoy each other on the group text.

How did August Lightning Complex come about? Did you need to record it differently because of Covid?

The recording wasn’t different, really, but the rehearsals for it were. We started working on it before vaccines were available, so we were being hyper-cautious and basically rehearsed the entire record without vocals. It ended up being really fun and a cool way to work the songs up, honestly — it gave us a different perspective, and it allowed everyone to have more of a say in the arrangements in general. Recording-wise, we did the whole thing in a week in a studio, very old-fashioned, and it was during that window after everyone was vaccinated, but before that big wave in 2021, so it was really a wonderful experience of being together and being creative collectively in a way that’s been so rare.

Would you call it a concept record?

It’s not a concept record in any kind of deliberate way. I don’t really plan what songs are about or even try to shape them thematically in a conscious way. All the songs were written during some of the darkest and most anxious times of the past couple of years, and that really shows for me, I think. There are certainly themes running through it, and all the songs feel connected in that regard, but I wasn’t necessarily in pursuit of an over-arching theme — I just trust the songs to be true to where they come from and do my best to facilitate that.

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