Birds of Bellwoods revel in new cross-country audience

Band talks origins, new album, and Canada-wide tour

Birds of Bellwoods played at the Leon's Centre on Nov. 3.
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Fresh off the release of their highly-anticipated debut album Victoria, the Toronto-based indie rock band Birds of Bellwoods are on the rise.

Made up of main vocalist and mandolin player Steven Joffe, Adrian Morningstar on guitar, Kintaro Akiyama on bass, and Chris Blades on guitar and banjo, played the Leon’s Centre on Nov. 3, accompanying Canadian Olympic figure skaters on their cross-country Rock the Rink tour.

They first came together after Joffe had experienced a romantic breakup. After weeks of crashing on best friend Morningstar’s couch, he was served an ultimatum.

“[Morningstar] said, ‘Stevie, you can either get your shit together, or we can start a band,” Joffe said. “I knew I was never going to be able to get my shit together, so I said, ‘Okay, let’s start a band.’”

Setting out to add members, the duo contacted Akiyama, who had recently graduated from McGill, and joked about winning their final member, Blades, in a poker game.

“We all started texting each other poems which eventually turned into songs,” Joffe said, “which now allow us to live this debaucherous life.”

The group named themselves after Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto. The park was the first place the band would jam when they began to play together. For them, it’s a cross-section of their hometown, bringing people of all ages out into nature. Representing the pastoral at the heart of an urban centre, it spoke to their folk-rock roots.

The band had already gained a following before Victoria, but releasing their first album opened up a whole new world.

Morningstar compared creating the album to having a child.

“Once it comes out, the real work begins. All of a sudden we have this thing, and we have to keep working and writing music and playing more [...] we’re just on page one now,” he said.

Now, embarking on the biggest tour of their lives, they’re gaining momentum and looking forward to what’s next.

 “It’s been really touching to see the number of people who, since the start of this band have been waiting for this album, and how much it means to a lot of people,” Joffe said.

The band has taken on a new perspective after seeing the impact that their music has had on their fans.

“I realized we had a real ability to help people and, dare I say, to make the world a slightly less shitty place,” Joffe said.

Although the group is expanding their reach, they keep their feet planted firmly on the ground. Prizing practicality above all else, the group agrees that the best part of releasing an album has been the influx of wealth.

“We’re rich,” said Morningstar. “It’s the coolest thing ever being fabulously wealthy.”

“We have tens of dollars,” noted Joffe.

Following the success of Rock the Rink, Joffe assured The Journal that the band will keep reaching for the stars.

“We want to headline Queen’s frosh week!”                                                  

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