Southern Ontario-based punks and avid birders Avem have just released their excellent new EP Nerdin About Birdin that sees them tackling the negative effects climate change is having on birds (and humans!), talking about addiction, and discussing the mating rituals of bowerbirds over kick-ass Ramonescore riffs. The band are getting ready to spread their wings and take their bird-conscious punk to the international stage. Along with recently signing with Belgium's Bearded Punk Records, the band will be playing Punk Rock Raduno in Italy and Festivalkult in Germany in July. They will also be crossing the border and playing Fest in Gainesville this October. And if you live in Ontario or Montreal, fear not! Avem will be coming your way later this month. Nerdin About Birdin is out now on Mom's Basement Records.
Punknews editor Em Moore caught up with bassist and vocalist Julian Warmland over Zoom to talk about playing festivals, their new EP, what we can do to help birds, and so much more. Read the interview below!
You’ll be playing Punk Rock Raduno in Italy in July and you’ve just been added to Gainesville’s Fest which will take place in October. How does it feel to be playing these festivals?
We’re really grateful to be offered these opportunities to play these cool festivals that we’ve followed for years. They’re far away from where we live and it’s really complicated to get to them as fans unless we truly prioritize it. Honestly, a lot of us weren’t in the situation financially to ever go so to be offered this opportunity to play with fantastic bands that we love and play for fantastic people that we love it’s amazing. We feel so much gratitude and happiness that we’ve been offered these opportunities and get to do these things and meet all of these cool people.
What are you looking forward to the most about these festivals?
I really like playing in front of people and I really like talking to people and making connections with people through our songs. It’s really interesting because when people see us or listen to any of our music they think, “Oh yeah, they’re just one of those schtick bands that sings songs about birds. That’s the thing that they’ve chosen. They’re not singing about crime like Masked Intruder, they’re singing about birds”. There’s been so many different occasions where people have seen us play and heard our lyrics live and been like, “I never knew that this song was about this. I really connected to this message that you’re trying to put through in this song. Do birds actually experience that or are you just talking shit?” It’s a really cool conversation starter. It’s funny watching people come up and be like, “You’re full of shit! You just sing about birds to sing about birds” and then we’re like, “Well, actually, no. This thing that they do is kinda related to how we do this thing. They’re more straightforward about it because their brains can’t think of more than one thing at a time”. I’m really looking forward to playing in front of a bunch of new people and seeing all of the birds that I’ve never seen before, specifically in Italy. There are so few European birds in North America.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that we’re playing with some of our favourite bands that really inspired us to start playing this type of music in Italy. Raduno is a legendary-sounding festival. It’s always free. It’s always all ages, and it’s not just family-friendly but family-encouraged. It’s a large community of people who go to listen to cool bands and hang out and party. Raduno’s big thing is: “No jerks, no transphobes, no homophobes, no racists - they can all fuck off. We’re a family and we’re all here to have this lovely festival in this lovely place and everyone is welcome. It is free. You don’t need to have a cent to your name. Just come and have fun and party. Be well and do good to yourself and to others”. It sounds like the dream festival and getting the chance to experience that with some really cool bands that we’ve been following for a while is just so awesome. I’m just as excited to hang out there and talk to everybody and feel that connection to a community. Punk rock is a lot about that but here in North America, it’s very spread out especially up here in Canada where we have small pockets of people all around. This festival is a place where a lot of European punks come together and it’s free and it’s fun. There’s no drama or bullshit. There’s some crazy cool big bands. Everyone just hangs out and really enjoys the time together as a community - enjoying the things they all love in the same space. There’s a lot to be said for that.
There definitely is! That doesn’t really exist in a lot of places anymore so when it does you really have to hang into it.
It’s so cool that they’ve been able to keep it going. Through COVID they just live streamed bands playing on Twitch. They had very socially distanced shows with tables outside all taped off and you could only sit at the tables with masks on and barely anyone was there. They called them the “World’s Worst Raduno” and the “World’s Worst Raduno 2”. Now they’re back and the lineup is cool and crazy. I’m really excited to see Kody Templeman do a Lillingtons set. The Proton Packs are his backing band which is super cool. Kepi Ghoulie and B-Face are playing too which is so cool.
What’s a Europan bird that you’re looking forward to seeing?
I’m really excited to see a European robin because they look quite different but at the same time not really. Robins here have a really big red breast and European robins have almost a circular shaped orange breast and they’re a little bit smaller. But they’re still robins, which is really interesting. There are birds that are like the black-capped chickadee, except they’re called the great tit. They’re yellow and blue and a little bit bigger but otherwise, body-shape and feather-shape they look the same. It’s super neat. There’s just so many European birds that we never, ever get to see here. I’m just excited to go and be like, “Hey, I’ve never seen that bird before! I’ve never seen that before!”. Every single bird will be a lifer, like the first time I see it. So that’s super exciting. Michiel - he plays bass in the Shivvies - is a very avid birder and he’s promised to take us out when we get to Italy. When we get to Raduno, we’re going to go on a little birding expedition and see the sights together which is super fucking cool. There’s a lot of punk rock birders. It’s interesting.
I just saw the CBC documentaryRare Bird Alert and it was really cool.
That was about Paul Riss, wasn’t it?
He’s a guy who we talk to from time to time. He lives in Hamilton and we’re going to see him when we play there in June. He’s still around doing bird stuff and epic marketing shit.
What do you think the connection between punk rock and birding is?
I feel like punk rockers can find a lot of similarities in the community aspect of it all. With liking punk rock, you really like the music and then you go to shows to see punk rock and you follow punk rock and that’s what you’re into. With birds, you get into birds and then you go places to see birds with other people who like seeing birds and then you follow birds and bird news. There are some birders who will hear on Facebook or on the news, “This really rare bird was spotted 12 hours away” and they’re like, “Fuck it! Work, I’m not coming in”. They get in their car and drive so they can get out their binoculars or monocular just to see it and maybe get a picture or just to have the satisfaction of being like, “Cool! I saw this bird”. Then they drive home. It’s like driving to a show. I got a chance to go to the Triple Rock in Minneapolis before it closed and I saw Dillinger Four there. I live about an hour east of Toronto right now so myself, my partner, and my friend Sarah drove from there to Minneapolis to the Triple Rock and back in one weekend. [laughs]
That’s a really good drive!
Just to go see Dillinger Four and the Dopamines at the Triple Rock and be like, “Fuck yes! We did it! We were there”. I was in a lot of pain for the next couple of days because that was a long ass drive. It’s that kinda thing. That’s what birders do too. It’s really interesting.
There’s a lot of progressive ideas in the birding community that are really appealing and interesting right now. Like pretty much every single thing that anyone is interested in, for 60 years it’s been capitalized by white dudes who just get older and feel as if they own it more and more. There’s been a really large push for amplifying the voices of people who aren’t old white dudes which is super cool and neat to see. There’s also a movement that’s called Bird Names For Birds because a lot of birds are scientifically named or their English names are named after people who were super fucking problematic, some were racist slave owners, and these are called honorific bird names. Take the Audubon Society for example, Audubon wasn’t exactly a stellar person. He was a really, really awful piece of shit. Some are like, “Oh my buddy told me I should go on a trip so I went on a trip and I saw this bird that no one’s ever seen. I’m going to name it after my buddy” but other ones are named for their rich slaveowner friends or these awful people that did experiments on people of colour. There’s a lot of problematic shit. There’s this organization that’s pushing the American Ornithological Society to revisit the English naming of birds and name them something better. If I asked you what a Cooper’s hawk looks like, you have no fucking clue. What’s a cooper? But if I said a Brown-Shinned hawk, you probably still have no idea but you could tell me that it has brown shins. Or a Cleveland hawk, I don’t know what it looks like but they probably live around Cleveland. It’s really cool that it’s picking up steam and not only that but very prominent members of the birding community, like the people who write and publish the bird guides, are totally behind this. They’re like, “This is a long time coming. We need to do this. We’re in full support. We wanna help any way we can”. There’s a lot of cool activism within the birding community that keeps you motivated because they’re trying to do better for each other and for everyone.
Definitely. If it’s bad for one person or one group then it’s not going to be good for anyone.
Exactly! It’s the same thing with punk rock. It’s that same idea that this is something that everyone loves that we need to make safe for the whole community and help people realize how fucking cool it is. The birding community is the same.
October in Florida is prime migration time for songbirds. Do you have a bird you’re most looking forward to seeing around playing Fest?
I wanna see the parrots that have escaped and thrived living there. I’ve got a buddy who lives in Florida and he sends me pictures all the time of different birds and he’s like, “I’m going to find you some cool birds!” It would be really funny to see birds we see every day here in Ontario just fucking booting it south while we’re in Florida. Just looking up and seeing two hundred cardinals for example, that wouldn’t really happen, but it would be funny to me to be like, “You guys are getting the fuck out of the cold and we’re here for a couple of days then we’re going back”. It’ll be interesting to see the birds that are there before they start leaving and see the variety of them. It’s very different in Florida than it is in Ontario, in general but also in terms of ecology. What they’ve got going on in terms of nature is a lot different from Southern Ontario or Northern Ontario. There’s going to be different kinds of birds hanging out.
You just wrapped up the first part of your Canadian Spring Migration tour and you mentioned wanting to see a Grey Jay on this run. Were you able to see one?
No, we haven’t been able to see a Canada Jay yet. Pretty much every day when we’re driving to a show, we always see a red-tailed hawk and we always view it as a good omen. It’s always like, “There’s the red-tailed hawk, it’s going to be a good night, guys”. We haven’t seen a Grey Jay / Canada Jay yet. Hopefully soon. Can’t win them all.
You’re going off on the second part of your Spring Migration tour later this month so maybe you’ll be able to see one then. Where are you looking forward to playing the most on this tour?
Personally, I can’t wait to play Ottawa and Vankleek Hill. It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten to play in Ottawa and Avem haven’t played in Ottawa yet. I love the scene in Ottawa and I love the people in Ottawa. It’s such a cool place. The Vankleek Hill show is going to be an absolute party because it’s Kevin from Audio/Visceral’s 50th birthday. They’re from Vankleek Hill and it’s at a big bar there. It’s going to be an absolute riot, a party of a show. It’s gonna be amazing. I’m looking very much forward to that. And playing in Montreal is always a good time. Montreal is a great city. Montreal kicks ass.
We’re all really excited to be able to get out and play shows again after COVID made it hard to travel and hard to play. As soon as things opened up, it was really hard to book shows and really hard to play anywhere because there’s two or three years of backlog. Everyone’s trying to play and you’re competing for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights against 20 or 30 other bands. No one wants to throw a show unless it’s going to do really, really well. The first 6 or 8 months after things started getting “normal” - whatever that means - people still weren’t coming out either. People still weren’t interested like, “I’ve got other things to do” or “I’m still nervous because this is weird” and that’s SUPER fair. It’s super weird! All of Tall Pork caught COVID after our little Northern run along with three of the guys from the Wasted Years, and only one of us. It turned into a band superspreader. Thank fuck that this new variant is not very, very destructive but still they all caught the plague and they couldn’t go to work. They all had to sit there and be like, “Yay, now I’m sick”. It’s what happens nowadays.
Everyone’s healthy now?
Everyone recovered fairly quickly and no one had too severe of symptoms so that’s good. No one’s feeling long-term effects which is good.
You sometimes give out samples of your birdseed at shows called “The Right Stuff”. What’s the story behind the birdseed?
There’s a bird store close to where our drummer lives called The Bird House in Brighton, Ontario. He’d been going there for a bit to get seed and chatting them up like, “I play in a punk band and we sing songs about birds!” We’d filmed a bunch of videos playing live in the forest and when he was in there they had a massive paper mache cardinal and black-capped chickadee and he asked if he could borrow them. They lent them to us so we could have them on the set when we were recording the videos which was super cool. He had bought a bunch of seed and was like, “I’m going to start handing out birdseed with every purchase at our shows.” and we were like, “You know what? This is an awesome idea!” So we ended up approaching them and saying, “How would you like to trade? You give us birdseed, we’ll give it out with labels. We’ll give out all this birdseed and say that it’s sponsored by the Bird House in Brighton. We’ll say ‘Make sure your birds get the Right Stuff’”. “The Right Stuff” is the name of their birdseed. It’s a seed mixture that they make themselves in-house and that they sell. They were all for it. We’re probably the only band in the world that has a birdseed sponsorship.
That’s cool! There are too many people who are sponsored by Pabst or whatever.
It’s not like, “Yeahhh get drunk and be sad!” it’s like, “Get birdseed and feed your birds so you can be happy! You can look outside and see these cool birds! Take a moment for yourself and revel in the beauty of nature before you get back to how crazy fast life is”.
You mentioned before how sometimes there are people who come up after a show and say, “I didn’t realize this song was about this”. Do you have one song that’s happened the most with?
A lot of people come up to me and say, “I really love your song ‘No, Homo!’. I really feel seen. Thank you for singing that”. I’m like, “Cool! You get it past the really poor taste joke!” It was too funny not to call it that and I played off the Simpsons’ joke of “Contingency? No, money down!” Punctuation matters! A lot of people like that song and really identify with the message which is really cool and good because that’s what I wanted. I find that song really important and people don’t realize how large a percentage of waterfowl are gay. There are so many gay ducks and no one gives a shit. No other ducks care! So why the fuck is it such a big deal? They’re not dying off. They don’t care, they just do their shit and that’s great.
“Pre Suburban Paradise” is one that people really identify with because it reminds them of before subdivisions came into their town and took over old parks or farmland or something else that they remember as a kid. They look back like, “Wow. I remember when it was really beautiful there and now it’s Rolling Hills Estates and they’re selling houses for seven hundred thousand dollars and they all look the same. Whatever happened? That sucks. A part of my childhood and a part of my overall sense of home is gone”. That is what the song’s about and it’s fucking sad.
We’ve just started playing songs from our new EP fairly recently. People don’t realize that “Puffin Toss” isn’t about going out and finding baby pufflings and throwing them into the ocean - which is true, that’s what happens in Iceland - but the song isn’t so much about that. The song is more so a little bit of a talk about addiction and how some people get led to addiction instead of getting led away from addiction. Fewer people make it out to the other side beyond addiction and usually, they need help doing it. That’s really what the song’s about. People will be like, “I didn’t realize that song was actually so deep and that’s so interesting because a friend of mine got through addiction and it was like this”. There are a lot of connections that get made because of that song. Nowadays, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t know someone who has either struggled with addiction or lost someone to addiction. Everyone has and it’s a major thing. While little pufflings flying towards light pollution instead of towards the moonlight to be safe is a little bit of a stretch, the consequences are still the same because if they don’t make it out of the city and into the ocean, they die. If you don’t make it out of your addiction, in most cases, you’re going to die.
You shared that song with a link to Punk Rock Saves Lives on Facebook. What does that organization mean to you?
I’d known about Punk Rock Saves Lives for a while because of their bone marrow campaign and I thought that was really cool. I know that they’re starting to get out to tours and festivals a lot more which is super neat. They actually inspired us a lot. My partner does a lot of addictions advocacy and houselessness advocacy in our local area and we saw the Instagram picture that Punk Rock Saves Lives posted of their harm reduction tool kit that they bring to every show. They have feminine hygiene products, fentanyl test strips, condoms, and I believe they even have Plan B in there which is super cool. They also have little wooden “fucks” in a box so you can take a fuck or leave a fuck or give a fuck. Which is super fun. The thing that I really related to and that I could see a lot of value in is having harm reduction boxes and kits and stuff around in the scene. It’s showing care and supporting your community and meeting people’s needs because then it might be easier for them to eventually meet their own needs. We saw that and thought it was super fucking amazing and why isn’t that present at every show? For all our shows up north, we actually brought our own little harm reduction box that had condoms, snacks, and drug test strips, a Naloxone kit or three, pads, and tampons. We also had packs of gum, some gummy bears, some snacks, sugar boosts, and that kind of stuff. We would just put it by the front door and we wrote on the box, “Take whatever you want or whatever you need”. Before we play “Puffin Toss” we just say, “There’s a harm reduction box that’s got a bunch of different stuff back there. If you know anyone who needs any of that stuff, or if you do, go take it. It’s there for you. Please take it”. Seeing the work that Punk Rock Saves Lives is doing in terms of harm reduction really inspired us because there’s not a lot of support for addicts and people who are without a home right now. I wish it was more available and accessible everywhere instead of wherever they’re going.
It’s a bit hard to keep up because that stuff isn’t cheap but that doesn’t mean that we’re going to stop doing it. Admittedly, we’re dumb and forgetful. On our last three shows, we pulled up and unpacked our merch and were like, “Cool. Where’s the harm reduction box? We fucking forgot it! We’re such shitty fucking people. We didn’t even bring the goddamn box!” That sucks! We remember all the things that are going to help us and the stuff for other people we fucking forget. We’re going to remember from now on. It’s more present in our brains now.
All of our shows were pay-what-you-can for the Northern tour as well. We made sure we had that at all of the venues. One was really weirded out because they had never heard of that before. They were like, “What if someone puts in a quarter?” and I was like, “Well then they put in a quarter and they get to see a show! Who cares? Maybe they only had $6.50 and your beers are $6.25 and they wanted a beer and to see the show”.
You just released an EP called Nerdin About Birdin. Do you feel like the perception of birding has changed in recent years?
I would say immensely yes because of COVID. COVID was a great thing for birding and for bird-watching because all of a sudden people had to be isolated and stay around their house. All the activities that keep people busy and keep their heads down stopped so they had to take a breath and look up and look around. A lot of people got into birding during COVID and I’m sure a bunch have stopped since because the hustle and bustle gets to you. For example, H. Jon Benjamin, the dude who does Bob’s Burgers and Archer, got so into birding that he would livestream his feeder every morning and narrate it on Twitter. He would constantly be talking about birds and making content about birds from his house. There was a Bob’s Burgers episode specifically about birds a while ago and it was not a half-assed episode. He knows his shit and he’s into it. I feel like a lot of people kind of got into it because birds aren’t stopping. They need to do all of these things to survive and they’re always around but unless you’re looking you don’t really notice. Unless you’re terrified of the Canada Geese that are trying to attack you or you live on King Street in Toronto during nesting season and you get dive-bombed by the red-winged blackbirds. It’s so funny. Good for them. [laughs]
I’ve seen those videos! [laughs]
And they’re all equally as hilarious! Someone walking with a briefcase looking all fancy and all of a sudden the briefcase goes flying as they get nailed in the head by a bird and they’re like, “AAAAA!” It’s so good. Fuck yeah, birds! [laughs] The birds are actually terrified and angry like, “Get the fuck out of here! This is MY space. My kid’s up there. I’m protecting it and you are scary so get the fuck out of here!” I can respect that.
How would you describe your songwriting process?
It kinda varies. For our first record, a lot of the time we would write the music first, and then we would think of different subjects to cover or birds to sing about or whatever and kind of fit it to the music. Which is kinda backward from a lot of people because a lot of people write lyrics and then write music to those lyrics. Near the end of writing those songs I found myself writing music and then almost writing a story with the lyrics. I was probably listening to a lot of Propaghandi at the time and if you know Chris Hannah’s lyrics, especially in the earlier albums, he writes two paragraphs of text and then just sings them. Mid-sentence will be the end of the one line of the verse and the next verse continues it. Each song is a story and it is so cool and so incredible. I kind of did that and then I would manipulate the story I’d written to fit more into a song structure.
With the newer record, it was kind of a mix between writing the music first and writing the lyrics first. It’s funny, two of the songs on the new record were actually two of the oldest songs that we’ve ever had. The song “Go Away” was probably the sixth song that we ever wrote as a band. We used to play it a bunch. It didn’t make the cut for Three Birds Stoned for whatever reason, but then we decided to use it for the EP. “Cloacal Kiss” was lyrics first with the idea of making it another ballad-y 3/4 6/8 song. “Puffin Toss” was an interesting one. I wrote that song about maybe one or two weeks before Joey joined the band officially. He had just played one show with us and we were talking and I had asked him, “What’s your favourite bird, man?” - which is a hilarious thing that we always ask. He told me the puffin and he told me it was because he thinks it’s so cool about puffin tossing and stuff. We had spoken a while before that where he was telling me about a dear friend that he had lost over the pandemic to drugs and I was like, “Holy fuck dude”. It just clicked in my head and I was like, “Joey, give me 30 minutes”. I put down my phone and wrote the lyrics and I wrote the song and that was that. I was like, “Joey, you’re my fucking muse, man. You got a whole song out of me in 30 minutes. This is awesome!” We didn’t even change a thing from it. It just came out of my head, out of my mouth, and into my guitar.
I’m in a two-bedroom apartment so I can’t be loud very much and I have a 3-year-old, so I only pretty much get time to myself late at night. I’ll get an acoustic guitar, I’ll go as far away from where he sleeps as possible, and I’ll hold my phone or the headset I have plugged into my phone up to my guitar and I’ll play quietly. I have a multi-tracking app on my phone so I’ll put on a headset, play back the guitar that I had recorded, and I’ll whisper-sing super quietly like, “da-da-da-da”. That’s the demo that I send the guys for our songs. They’re like, “Dude, what the fuck are you sending us? We have no idea. How is this supposed to be a live band song?” and I’m like, “Guys, just picture loud electric, distorted guitars downstrumming really fast and ta-ts-ta-ts and you’re there!” Then they’re like, “We have no idea. You’re fucked”. [laughs] But that’s kinda how it all shakes down. When we finally get together they’re able to hear what I hear in my head all the time.
I was particularly pumped with “Puffin Toss” because for years I’ve wanted to write a song that has the NOFX chord in it and that song has the NOFX chord in it. The second chord of the intro has that NOFX inverted power chord and I was like, “Yes, I did it! It’s out of my head and now I can move on to other things”. That’s another thing I like doing. I like taking some unique things that bands do and implementing them in our own songs. I wanted to use it but I don’t want to overuse and I don’t want it to be the thing that we do as well. That’s very much a NOFX thing that they do quite often but if it can fit in the right spot, you just need to find it. I think I found it there. It doesn’t feel forced. There’s a good middle tension before it kicks in.
It’s not like, “I’m going to do my best to write a NOFX song”. It’s just, “It’s in here because it sounds cool”.
Yeah, exactly! I heard it from NOFX and I took it. That’s a lot of what music is. You hear things that you like and that you think are really cool and then you take it. Our song “Flap Flap Flap”, which is on a compilation album of 30 second or less songs called Punk Rock 101 - kinda like Short Music For Short People, I stole the chord progression for that song from a Louis Armstrong song. It’s the bridge of a Louis Armstrong song. I could picture the exact melody of the horns that are playing underneath the chords but I just took the chord progression because it’s cool. It makes a lot of sense and it’s really easy to make it into punk rock. The progression is just the progression, it’s the instrumentation and how you present it that makes it the genre in a lot of ways. I think it’s hilarious because no one’s ever going to hear that and be like, “You stole that from Louis Armstrong!” The whole song is just that chord progression done twice, literally fucking yoinked. Thank you estate of Louis Armstrong. [laughs]
A major theme on your EP is talking about the negative impact that climate change is having on birds and the environment. What are some actions that we can take to help them?
That is a great question! I’m going to have a hard time not getting on a soapbox and ranting for a million years. [laughs] Keep your feeders clean, that’s a big one and very important. Avian flu is a scary thing and if a bird visits your feeder that has avian flu it can infect your feeder and there’s a possibility that other birds can get infected. Mold and all that shit grows too so keep it clean.
Bird collisions with windows is the number two killer of birds in North America. When birds see an inside that is lit up, they don’t see the glass so they think they can fly in there. They fly in and they smash the glass and they die. There’s an organization based out of Toronto, Ontario called FLAP Canada which stands for “Fatal Light Awareness Program”. FLAP actually has a lot of volunteers in urban communities that go around every morning and they collect the dead corpses of birds that have died from striking the windows of skyscrapers or new, fancy, modern urban buildings or bus shelters, that kind of thing. Every year they make a collage of all the birds they have collected and they take a picture of it. It’s really morbid and depressing but really powerful. It’s not just house sparrows and finches, it’s not the birds that you see every day necessarily. Owls and pileated woodpeckers are in there too. It’s crazy. If you live in a space where you have windows and some greenery and you’ve got birds around, chances are you’ve heard that thump before of a bird flying into a window. Something you can do to help birds stop flying into windows is to put up this window-proofing tape that you can buy, called Feather Friendly DIY collision prevention tape. It creates this dot pattern on your window using little white dots. They’re not very big at all and they’re in a grid pattern kind of like dot paper. The birds see those dots and realize that they can’t fly through so then they fuck off. It sounds like it would be really intrusive or look really ugly but you actually don’t even notice when you’re looking out the window. If you’ve ever looked out a window that has stuff on it, you don’t even really notice because you can still see out. There’s a lot of urban buildings that are starting to really take this seriously and are treating their windows with this stuff. It’s super cool. That helps a lot to prevent bird collisions with windows and is a big way we can help birds.
The biggest way we can help birds is for people to keep their fucking cats inside, or leash their cat and take it for a walk or build their cat a catio or an enclosed space so the cat can be outside and still enjoy the things it likes doing without letting it run free. This is the biggest one because this is the number one killer of birds in North America, millions upon millions of birds each year die because of people letting their cats out. it’s actually not that hard to do. It’s just a bit of a change of mindset for some people and a little bit of tough acceptance for others, Cats are alpha predators, they kick ass at hunting. Anyone who says, “Oh my little Fluffles doesn’t hunt” is full of shit because that’s what cats do. Birds don’t recognize cats as being a common predator for them because they don’t exist here. Cats were introduced by humans and the evolutionary length hasn’t gone on long enough for birds to have evolved to recognize cats as predators themselves. They’re probably still apprehensive because it’s a weird thing but cats are an invasive species. They don’t really have predators of their own to compete against apart from coyotes, wolves, and probably foxes. Cats kill more birds than anything else hands down, as well as rodents and not just the annoying rats and mice. They kill all sorts of stuff. If you leash your cat or if you let it out in a catio, you are helping the birds in your direct community so so so much.
Honestly, you’re helping your cat out a lot too by doing that. There are so many occasions of cats getting hit by cars, getting in fights with feral cats or raccoons, and catching diseases. Unless you live way out in the country it’s not like you’re opening your door and saying, “Alright doggy, peace out! See you whenever you come scratching at the door” and you don’t do that with your three-year-old kid either. So I don’t understand why it’s so socially acceptable to be like, “It’s an outdoor cat so I just let it out. It fucks off and then it comes back whenever it’s ready”. I don’t understand how you can accept that as being true and still claim to love your cat more than anything else because all you’re doing is putting your cat at risk. You’re not being responsible and loving it. It probably loves being outside but if you walked it or hung out with it or built it a catio, it would love it just as much.
If not more.
Exactly! Maybe your cat needs to go outside because it needs more stimulation so how about you play with your cat? Or build it a catio! Cats love that shit! I have so many friends who have built a catio out of one of the windows of their house. It’s like two or three layers so they’ve got shade, they’ve got a sunny area, they’ve got grass, and there’s tunnels for them to fuck around it and be cats. They can come and go as they please. It’s awesome. That’s what you do. Don’t just let your cat out. How can you say you love your animal when you just neglect it like that? But it’s tough because it’s been so socially normalized for us to be like, “Cats, they’re outside animals. You can do that with them. It’s cool”. But in the 60s, people thought it was ok and cool to drive drunk. That was pretty socially accepted. It’s not that accepted now. Just because you don’t like change doesn’t mean you can just not do it. You’re allowed to feel weird about it and to think it’s hard but it’s pretty evident that cats are the reason why there’s 60% of the birds in North America than there were 30 years ago. Science all but points to that as the direct reason, not clearly but it’s a very large reason.
Treat your windows with this window stuff, clean your bird feeders, and leash your fucking cats. That’s it. [laughs]
You just signed to Belgium’s Bearded Punk Records. How did that come about?
Tom Dumarey from Punk Rock Theory actually reached out to us and was like, “Hey! I’m gonna start working with Bjorn over at Bearded Punk Records. He’s interested in meeting up and talking about stuff. Would you be interested?” We were like, “Oh fuck yeah! Of course”. So I got up way too early one morning because Europe is so far ahead and met with Tom and Bjorn and they were like, “We love the record! It’s pretty hard to find in Europe and we’d love to release it”. I was like, “Wow! That sounds really cool. We’re playing Punk Rock Raduno and we were thinking we were going to have to ship a bunch of LPs to Europe so it would be really awesome if you could get it out before Raduno because then we can have copies there. We can get a bit of buzz going so people know who we are when we go there, apart from the people who follow every single band in that scene”. Bjorn was super into it. That’s pretty much how that happened.
How would you describe the punk scene in Southern Ontario?
I would describe the Southern Ontario punk scene as being a lot of fun. There’s a lot of cool places to play in Southern Ontario. The fans are all super supportive and love having fun. There are some great bands out there who honestly should be playing a lot bigger places and in front of a lot more people but the United States makes it very difficult for Canadian bands to cross south of the border and because that’s our only real border it makes it kinda hard for Southern Ontario. There are a lot of underdogs in the Southern Ontario scene.
What are you listening to now?
I am always listening to the Hex Dolls because I absolutely love them to death. They kick so much ass. I’m also constantly listening to Prophagandhi’s Victory Lap because it’s amazing. Houseghost, their new record Another Realm is incredible! I’m such a huge fan and I listen to them all the time. It’s so good. Radioactivity and the Marked Men are so good too. I’ve been listening to the Leftovers a lot recently which is hilarious because they’re pretty old now but they’re so good. I really liked Kurt Baker’s new song, “Anchors Up”. It was super sweet. The new Lone Wolf record is great. Great live band, probably the top 5 best live bands I’ve ever seen in my life. They are flawless, they’re so captivating and incredible. So that’s definitely what I’ve been listening to. I don’t know what Joey has been listening to and I don’t really know what Bryson has been listening to but I know that our other guitar player, Ernie, has been listening to mostly thrash metal. He’s been really into thrash and thrashy crust punk like Rat Pack. They’re fucking sick. Bootlicker are another cool, crazy band. Aren’t they so good?
Oh my god, they’re amazing!
What a unique take on D-beat, it’s so sweet.
What’s next for Avem?
We’re doing the shows in Ontario later this month. In July we’re hitting Punk Rock Raduno and we’re also sticking around in Europe for two to three weeks which is super cool. We’ve got a couple of shows lined up in Germany. We’re playing this super cool festival called Festivalkult which is this eclectic German music festival that looks huge and epic and awesome. We’re playing that and we’re working with a band that’s trying to get us more shows to fill out our time there. We’re going to check out some birds and play some music.
We’re getting back at the beginning of August and taking it a bit easy apart from arguably the coolest show we’re playing this year. We got asked to play for one night for the AOS / SCO-SOC joint conference (American Ornithological Society / Society of Canadian Ornithologists - Société de Ornithologistes du Canada) that is happening in London, Ontario in August. On August 11, we are playing a family-friendly set at one of their social events at a local brewing co-op which is a dream come true. We are playing THE birding conference with the who’s who of North American birders. Playing Fest is fucking unreal and spectacular and we’re so grateful for that. It’s like, “Fuck yeah! We made it! We’re playing Fest as a punk band!” Playing the AOS / SCO-SOC conference is like, “Fuck yeah! We’re being accepted as birders too!” That community is acknowledging our presence which is super cool. We’re super pumped about that. That’s going to be weird because playing family-friendly is going to be interesting. We can do it. It’s just funny that it was very specifically mentioned. It was like, “You swear too much. Don’t swear as much” and I was like, “Fuck, ok. No problem, sounds great”. We’re trying to line up some stuff in September and October and then we’ve got Fest at the end of October. Big plans on the horizon for Avem and we’re super pumped about the festivals that we’re playing. Can’t wait for that! [laughs]
|w/Audio Visceral, Prospect Nelson, Rich Chris
|w/Audio Visceral, Prospect Nelson, Rich Chris
|Vankleek Hill, ON
|w/Audio Visceral, Prospect Nelson, Rich Chris
|w/Hellephant, Pet Rat
|Punk Rock Raduno
|Porta Westfalica, DE
|London Brewing Co-op
|AOS / SCO-SOC joint conference show