Fish & Bird have come a long way since Monday first talked to the local band nearly four years ago, when the then-duo was on the verge of releasing their debut self-titled EP.
Since then, their ranks have swollen to five, they’ve toured by sailboat and veggie-oil van, and have recorded two more albums, the most recent being Every Whisper is a Shout Across the Void, which the band is on the cusp of releasing with a concert at the Metro Studio and a jaunt across Canada.
Adam Iredale-Gray says when he and Taylor Ashton put together that first album, they had no idea where it would go.
“We essentially made our first album before we ever decided we were going to be a band,” says Iredale-Gray, who plays fiddle and sings in the band’s current incarnation. “It was more like I met Taylor, he had some great songs, I was starting up a recording studio and we liked to play music together.”
Bringing the material to the stage as a two-piece proved challenging.
“For the first couple years, we had three or four instruments each on stage and it was very ridiculous,” Iredale-Gray says. “We were using lots of different tunings and it was a bit of a, dare I say, shit show.”
The in-concert chaos was part of what prompted Iredale-Gray and Ashton, who is responsible for banjo and vocal duties, to expand the band.
First up was adding guitarist Ryan Boeur, drummer Ben Kelly and, finally, bassist Zoe Guigueno, who joined the Fish & Bird team about a year and a half ago.
It’s this five-piece lineup that appears throughout Every Whisper, an experimental folk blend that Iredale-Gray feels is representative of things to come for Fish & Bird. “Before, it’s been Taylor and I with lots of other guests and people,” he says. “To me, it’s a lot more concise and consistent throughout because it’s just the five of us on every single track.”
But while the band’s lineup and sound have been solidified, getting them all in one place is a bit of a challenge, as the five members are spread all across the country.
“It’s more difficult to organize rehearsal times,” says Iredale-Gray. “On a tour, we just kind of meet up and do it and it’s a really high priority for all of us, so we just decide when we’re going to go on tour and we book it.”
Fish & Bird’s tour vehicle of choice has long been a van run on vegetable oil, but Iredale-Gray says the band’s growth spurt has meant they’ve had to upgrade to a bigger one.
“It was one of those Delicas, so a small mini-van, and we were putting five of us with an upright bass and drum kit in there, which is ridiculous,” he says.
“It was over-cramped.” M