L.A. trio prepares to rock Novafest

Kristen Flanagan

Touring nationally for their second year in row, with two releases in 2005 and over 150 concerts planned for 2006, Thornbird’s next stop is Villanova, Pa. to grace the stage at this year’s Novafest. Hailing from Los Angeles, this dynamic trio consisting of Bella (vocals and guitar), Spanky (bass and vocals) and Pat (drums), has swept through college campuses across the nation. Thornbird has had quite a run these past two years. Despite the chaos of their schedule, the band exudes a refreshing, independent philosophy, making music for themselves and performing for their fans, sans label support or representation. What’s more refreshing is their willingness to chat with a certain Villanovan entertainment editor and their ability to make her feel as if she were simply shooting the breeze on their tour bus.

The beginnings of a fairly remarkable band occurred quite unremarkably. Bassist Spanky recalls, “We all lived in L.A., which is such a small place. You kind of know everyone. We just lived next door and decided to jam.” Having played in other Los Angeles based bands, the members of Thornbird “decided to jam” and ran with it. As for coming up with a unique band name, lead vocalist and guitarist Bella joked, “The name was just cool. No one had it yet, so they couldn’t sue us.”

So what kind of sound can you expect from this trio? Thornbird’s sound is a little bit of rock and pop influenced by artists such as Matchbox 20, U2 and Sheryl Crow. Drummer Pat reveals that some of his musical inspirations have been Pete Best and Mickey Dolan.

Beyond Thornbird’s sound, what is distinctive is their philosophy. (I bet they didn’t even know they had one.) Besides making music that they love, the two facets of Thornbird that stand out are their decision to go without a label and their awareness of their audience.

Bella explained that in today’s music business, you need to make a decision, like the decision to bypass representation, and stick with it. “So far it’s worked out really well for us,” he said.

Spanky agreed. “It is really liberating to be in control of our own destiny.”

As far as their favorite venues, there was a consensus that it isn’t truly about the venue – it comes down to the people at the show.

“You need to have rapport with the audience or you just feel like you’re working for a living,” Bella said onperforming.

Interaction with the audience is important to the band, and the Novafest audience certainly will not let Thornbird down.

In fact, these guys seem like they could really relate to their fans, especially college students. On their website, they even ask for fans who would be willing to allow the band to park their tour bus outside their house so that the band can get a good night’s sleep. The fact that the band seems to have mastered the art of crashing at friend’s house shows their reliance on their fan base and their ability to relate to the college crowd.

What advice would the band give to college students trying to make it in the music industry or just trying to make it in general?

“Be original,” Spanky said. “Not just the music, your entire psychology. People who think outside the box do something.” Spanky’s advice seems to have worked for the band so far.

Be sure to check them out when they open for Third Eye Blind at Novafest on April 28. For more information on the band visit their website, www.thornbird.com.