Firsts: Active Bird Community
Indie rock band Active Bird Community goes way back. With the exception of its newest addition, drummer Quinn McGovern, members Tom D’Agustino (vocals and guitar), Andrew Wolfs (vocals and lead guitar) and Zach Slater (bass) are proud to reminisce about the middle school days where their celebrity all began.
“Our first show, real show, was at eighth grade recognition night, which is basically like when you graduate,” Wolfson tells TIDAL.
“It was, like, sold-out,” jokes D’Agustino.
The guys, now all Brooklyn-based in their twenties, make their history apparent, squeezing humor into every statement — even McGovern, who’s happy to count himself out when the anecdotes get too embarrassing (“I just want to reiterate I was not in the band”).
This dynamic seeps as effortlessly into their music as it does their interview, where the four-piece laid out their “firsts”: the first time they met, their first show, the first album that made an impact and the first song they did together. With this pack, every question is coupled with a comedic answer and an endearing goofiness.
Read below as Active Bird Community walks us through their time together, through new members, old favorites and accidentally questionable songs.
On how they met… Quinn and I became friends at the end of college, and we had a former drummer who left the band or who was planning to leave amicably and it was cool. But we were like, ‘We need a new drummer by this point.’
I had seen [Quinn] do this project called Mister Legs, which was like a two-piece where he would play drums and this other guy would shred on guitar. It was instrumental, kind of like a jam band. It was really good. I have a lot of images of him in sweaty basements with his shirt off playing really well. I was like, ‘Who do I know that can play drums? That big tall sweaty guy that I’m tight with now.’ - D’Agustino
I met Tom when my band, Tom Flightless, was opening for Active Bird Community my freshman year in someone’s basement. My band finished, and before the last chord rang out, people started cheering for ABC, and I was like, ‘Who is this ABC band?’ I had met Tom [D’Agustino] right before. I had recognized him, and he was like, ‘Hey, I sing in the next band. I sing and play guitar.’ I was like, ‘Oh, cool, I sing and play guitar.’
Seemed like a nice guy. Turned out to be a total ass (laughs). No, I’m kidding. But I was definitely very jealous of ABC because, as they said, they’ve been playing since they were eleven, so they already had kind of a following. Everybody was pumped about it. - McGovern
On their first show… [Our first show was at] our friend’s birthday party. Basically, everybody was on one floor and then they’re like, ‘All right. Get ready.’ So we went down to the basement and everybody on that floor came down, and it was like our showcase. - D’Agustino
It was a sick show. I remember wearing these tight plaid dress pants that my dad bought me for that show. I remember feeling really cool. Our second first show, real show, was at eighth grade recognition night, which is basically like when you graduate. Yeah, it was probably the biggest show we’ve ever played. The whole middle school. - Wolfson
I think that was the first real show. Yeah, your whole grade and all of their parents and grandparents is like 300 people. It was like sold-out. - D’Agustino
I just want to reiterate I was not in the band. - McGovern
On the first album that made an impact…First thing that comes to mind for me was Jar Flies EP, Alice in Chains. My dad bumped that in the car all the time, or when I was really little, Moby, or Beck’s Odelay. Stuff like that. Very dated ’90s dad stuff. That is me. - D’Agustino
My dad was trying to shove Grateful Dead down my throat for my entire childhood. I feel like that is what I was listening to. I would be like, ‘Let’s throw on some Z100. Let’s see what else is out there.’ He would be like, ‘Not in my house.’ All of my first music was Grateful Dead I feel like, then I started hanging out with other people and they were like, ‘Dude, there’s other people who been playing music since the ’70s.’ - Slater
Honestly, I’m thinking Led Zeppelin as a whole. My dad would just play everything. I didn’t really know there were albums. It was just kind of like, ‘Why is this guy fucking screaming so much… like, all the time?’ - Wolfson
Mine is probably Origin of Symmetry by Muse. That was the first album where I was like, ‘Damn.’ The thing about Muse is they have become way popular, way more of a mainstream Superbowl halftime band since the ’90s, but when that album came out, it showed that this one guy could just play every instrument and be amazing at it. - McGovern
On the first song they did together… The first real song we had that people enjoyed was called ‘Kelly,’ and it was catchy, very poppy, cute love song thing. I just named it after … I thought of a girl’s name. It wasn’t about anyone in particular. Then I realized that my cousin’s name is Kelly. My family was like, ‘What is going on, dude?’
My mom was like, ‘This is kind of strange,’ but didn’t really bring it up, and then I remember Kelly commenting on a YouTube link of the song being like, ‘I love you too, Tom.’ - D’Agustino
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