When you’re in a band, it’s generally regarded as fairly important to have other people think your band is cool. For psychedelic-folk-rock outfit Maybird, whose members are half based in Brooklyn, having one person think their band is cool paid off big time, because in this instance, that person was world-renowned musician, producer and New York native Danger Mouse. Maybird’s debut album, Turning Into Water, drops today on on Danger Mouse’s 30th Century Records.
Connecting with Danger Mouse isn’t a case of insider industry connections or knowing the right people either. It’s a story that any musician with a laptop can replicate: Danger Mouse found the band on Soundcloud, and reached out to sign them. I talked with founder Josh Netsky, who is 27 and lives in Bushwick, to talk about how exactly that connection went down, choosing a good band name, and what it’s like to have a long distance band-lationship with Maybird’s two Rochester based members.
Getting noticed by Danger Mouse is a lesson in how much the internet levels the playing field for small bands, Netsky said. He was as surprised as you’d be when he got the email.
“There is so much music on SoundCloud, I honestly have no idea how he found us, but he did,” he said. “A partner at his studio sent us an email, and provided a phone number for us to call, but didn’t give any indication as to what he wanted to talk to us about. When I called, Danger Mouse wasn’t there, but his partner said that he’d call back in a few days. For those few days, I was freaking out thinking about what he could possibly want to talk about, but finally, he called and said he wanted to sign us.”
The cool part is, Danger Mouse didn’t really change their music. He liked what he heard on SoundCloud, and that’s what he wanted to sign. So apart from remastering some older songs from their first self-released album, which will appear on Turning Into Water, Danger Mouse didn’t actually touch Maybird’s music.
Netsky has been making music for a really, really long time. He started doing solo singer/songwriter stuff, then often performing with other people as The Josh Netsky Band. A few people who were involved from the beginning, most notably Netsky’s brother, are now in Maybird. I asked about the journey to find a new name.
“[The Josh Netsky Band] was something I had done for a long time, but we found the name when I had found a band that I was really happy with and wanted to make it a more permanent thing,” he said. “It’s tough to make an impression just using your name in the music world. Plus, I really didn’t want to have a name that sounded like Dave Matthews Band.”
Valid. When it came to choosing the name, Netsky actually had help from his mother, which is kind of adorable. Like many of us music types, he recalls that one of the first songs he wrote was about someone he had a crush on, and that song was eventually titled Maybird. After being stuck on a few less-than-desirable band names (most notably “Foliage,” which was vetoed on the basis of it sounding too “metal”), Netsky’s mom suggested that they borrow the title of that old song she liked. And they did. Thanks, mom.
So, though Netsky compiled about four or five albums of his original music prior to this, Maybird has been playing together in this configuration for about three years. It’s Josh Netsky on lead vocals and guitar, his brother Adam Netsky on drums, Sam Snyder on guitar, Kurt Johnson on pedal steel/steel guitar and James Preston on bass. Snyder and Johnson still live upstate in Rochester, where Netsky is from originally, but the rest of the guys live in Brooklyn. Netsky says that since forming Maybird, the band has more influence on the music: spending a bunch of time with four people in a room can completely change the sound of a song.
They’re hitting the studio to record a new full length album in May, which, coincidentally, is next week, but you can get Turning Into Water today. Netsky says their favorite Brooklyn spots to play are Union Pool and Brooklyn Bowl, but you can go see them at their album release party tonight at The Standard East Village.
Lilly Vanek covers music stuff for Brokelyn. To find out more about local music and advice she’s taken from her mother, follow Lilly on Twitter. And to pitch her for New Music Friday, email Lilly at lilly [at] brokelyn [dot] com.