MORE ABOUT ICEBIRD
Icebird began as the dream of two friends, Barry Monahan and Kate Wise, to form a band. The idea was that the two felt that there was something missing and that they could give something back to music, a love letter to an art that had given both of them so much. Both of them were also inspired and encouraged by the music of Kate's brother's band in New York. The idea was simple, but it wasn't easy. At the time, having flunked guitar class twice, Monahan's guitarmanship was rudimentary at best, and with the exception of singing Danzig's "Mother" in the shower, he'd never sung before. This fact was captured in the first line of the first song Barry wrote "I don't have the coordination to sing and play guitar at the same time" from "Ohio" a song comparing a particularly heavy break-up with the state of Ohio, a state of indecision, at that time being pulled by both sides in a particularly brutal election. It wasn't all bad news either. They soon settled on a name the name Icebird after a coffee shop in the Koreatown neighborhood where Monahan lived. When they thought of Icebird, they thought of penguins, and nothing could be more of a fish out of water in sunny Los Angeles. That fish out of water feeling matched the bands ideas about the type of music that wanted to make. "Unlike now, back then, there were very few bands in LA making the kind of music we liked," says Barry.
After parting with an early bassist, Barry convinced his brother Mike Monahan to move from New York to Los Angeles, pick up a bass and join the band. The younger Monahan brought a renewed sense of urgency to the band and a preternatural "brother rhythm" that completed the band. Shows were booked, and a record had to be made. The more they played the stronger and tighter they became, and the more Barry grew into his voice, a mixture of low plaintive howl and bleach-gargling scream. Outside practice and playing, each Monahan began cultivating his very own guitarmy and extensive pedal collections, in the search for the perfect sounding guitar and bass tones. At the same time, Kate's drum chops were advancing to the point of producing signature iconic beats. She and Mike, the driving rhythm section, became the band's secret weapon.
The band continued to play around Los Angeles until they were ready with enough material to record an album. That album was Magnitude, a break-up album recorded in a friend's garage in under 72 hours. "It was definitely a crash course in recording," says Mike "We were making this really aggressive stuff and we were left scratching our heads trying to figure out how to make it sound heavier." "We wanted to make a punk rock album and that's very much what we made," notes Kate. The album was critically lauded for it's gloss-less diamond in the rough appeal. The band was compared to everyone from Sonic Youth to the Meat Puppets and from Dinosaur Jr to Unwound to Nirvana. What began as a whim landed them on hallowed ground, and it blew them away. They were winning recognition and fans at home and away.
On the soon-to-be-released Championship Bloodline, their newly-recorded 5 song EP, the 'Bird displays development in every direction: as musicians, as songwriters, as arrangers and as singers. Recording took place at New Monkey Studio, a top-notch studio built and made (in)famous by it's previous owner, the notoriously gear-minded Elliott Smith. In five days, their songs were locked into the round warmth of two inch tape by Dave Drake, an engineer who's recorded the likes of Holly Golightly and who was coaxed into wearing a raccoon "thinking cap" for the entirety of the recording. Unlike Magnitude, this is no breakup album. There's the whiskeyed southern rocker "I'm a dancer," partially inspired by the band's swelling confidence and partially inspired by the Monahan's father's changing of their family crest to say "Dancing F