Bird Problems Takes Off to Higher Skies

Montreal-Based Band Prepares for Local Battle of the Bands

Even real birds know about Bird Problems, according to Daniel Smilovitch. Photos Pascal Piché

Max Laramee and Joseph Anidjar began tuning their instruments. Daniel and Michael Smilovitch would’ve done the same, but one drums and the other sings, so instead they warmed up, making noises.

The magic of Bird Problems began to fill their practice space, as though the band mates were gradually tugged into action like a light dimmer slowly brightens a room. From playful, down-to-earth buddies, the foursome has transitioned into focused musicians, already far gone from reality, as they prepare for their biggest gig to date.

Bird Problems was formed in 2013. Selected to take part in the Emergenza Festival’s Battle of the Bands, Bird Problems has progressed through two rounds since the beginning of the contest in November 2015. They made it through the first round at Club Lambi, and apparently killed it at L’Astral in February. Now, they practice for the third and final round on May 14 at Metropolis—against 12 other bands.

If Bird Problems wins at Metropolis, they will fly to Germany to perform at the Taubertal Open Air Festival in August—but the group has its eyes on another prize.

Bird Problems’ drummer, Daniel Smilovitch.

“The priority is getting the album done,” said Michael, the older Smilovitch, sweating between songs. It’s good to play at shows, but “first you need to have something to get out there,” he says.

It’s a “sci-fi concept album,” they say. It should, if all goes well, reflect Bird Problems’ inability to define their sound.

Anidjar, a Vanier Jazz student who plays guitar for the band—and who also is part of progressive metal band Jukebox Ocean—considers Bird Problems to be prog-metal. Daniel, the younger Smilovitch, drummer, and Concordia psychology student, calls Bird Problems’ music experimental, explorative—a mix of jazz, funk and ska.

“We take our music seriously, but we don’t take ourselves seriously. It’s all for fun.” – Daniel Smilovitch

“We take our music seriously, but we don’t take ourselves seriously. It’s all for fun,” he laughed. This mentality frees the band to play heavy breakdowns right after funk cover jams, a trick they’ve used live to keep audiences on their toes.

Bird Problems has learned that energy is as important in recording as it is in practice, and that energy has taken them from the Smilovitch parents’ basement to shows across the city and now to Metropolis.

“When we started,” the older brother Michael said, “our only goal was to have people mosh to our music.”
The eldest Smilovitch—and the vocals of the band—Michael.

And people certainly do, but Bird Problems’ live style has elevated since—sometimes literally. “Max has gone on Michael’s shoulders [while playing bass] before,” Smilovitch remembers.

The ambition in music and performance carries onto their album, their first in a studio—they released a two-song EP, Birdshot, in spring of last year. Those songs, along with five new ones, will appear on their forthcoming full debut project.

The unnamed album, according to the older brother Michael, tells the story of a virus that breaks loose into a society, and how that society subsequently falls into chaos. It was inspired in part by Virgil’s epic poem, The Aeneid, as well as Paradise Lost by John Milton.

“It’ll be hectic,” Michael says.