The Morningbird Gets the Worm: Sitting Down with Boston’s Band-to-Watch.
“You can trust them if you crack your head on the sidewalk that they’ll take you to the ER and you can also trust them with Royalty rights.”
Trust. This is what the guys of Morningbird nodded in agreement to as we talked about the wonders and woes of growing up in a band. Ignited by the meeting of Max and John in a Berkeley pre-college program, the band has stood the test of time through years of college and beyond. As I had the pleasure to sit down with Max Challis, John Cattini, Isak Kotecki, and Jacob Thompson (missing their fifth man Connor Frawley), it was clear that Morningbird was more than a purely creative project. “Music is so vulnerable,” they explained. In navigating the role as business partners, musicians, and friends, I learned that having trust in each other’s best intentions was a necessity. That you have to “be friends before bandmates.”
It’s no surprise that they get along well because the energy that Morningbird brought into our conversation was infectious. Packed like sardines in studio AC, bouts of laughter and tangential stories filled the room. Doing the “retro-rock thing,” as Max dubbed it, Morningbird brings a similar fire to their shows. The key is that Max, John, Isak, Jacob, and Connor are all incredible instrumentalists. From such a spread of individual talent, Morningbird nails the “guitar hero stuff,” as they call it. The song is first, they explained. But live, there opens up an opportunity to riff and solo with each other that is pure magic to witness. “You need to shred over it,” John added as we all chuckled on.
But there is no denying the maturity that they bring to the music. The intention they bring into writing about relationships, selecting album covers, balancing how to “serve the song” best with their solos, it’s beautiful. How special it is to listen to an album and understand the genius that went into its construction.
Getting at this genius, I closed our conversation by asking, “What do you wish you would’ve known before jumping on the Morningbird train.
John: “When I came to Berkeley, I felt like a real small fish in a big pond. My whole thing was like I was comparing myself to other people […] I don’t think I had that maturity that I hope I have now […] I could tell myself that six years ago I’d say, you know, just be the best version of yourself. Don’t worry about anything else really.”
Max: “I wish I had started performing earlier […] You’re gonna go play you’re first show and you’re like, well, you know, I’m gonna go up. I’m gonna play and I’m gonna sing. And that’s the show. And there’s so much more to it, and you just, you just don’t know until you get those reps really.”
Isak: “Everybody was like, ‘Man, it’s hard out there. The music industry’s rough.” I think I wish I’d known that it really it rough […] Building a tight knight community around yourself is really important because you’ll find super quickly that people are quick to take advantage of any kind of art… you know, it’s very real.”
Jacob: “I’d play less. […] The way I used to look at drum fills and things like that are much different than now. I used to look at it as an opportunity to showcase how good I am and an opportunity to look cool […] Something I’ve learned with this band is anytime that I make the decision to do that, it could be overshadowing or preventing me from listening to something cool that their doing […] I’ve learned to listen a lot.”
Catch Morningbird at the Great Scott in Boston on Monday, December 8 at 8:30
Tickets can be purchased at https://www.axs.com/events/384757/morningbird-tickets
//By Francesca Barr. Produced by Dash Chin and Caleb Lee