The Wooden Birds - Biography
After having lived in Brooklyn, New York for six years and working for more than a decade as the thrust behind lo-fi drone-pop band The American Analog Set, versatile vocalist/guitarist Andrew Kenny moved back to his native Austin, Texas in 2008 and formed The Wooden Birds. Under the new moniker, Kenny unwrapped a collection of songs that he’d written years earlier (but weren’t used) for AmAnSet’s Set Free to comprise the tracks. He enlisted the help of fellow AmAnSet member Leslie Sisson (backing vocals), Oda Podrida’s David Wingo, David Gordon Green, Matt Pond (guitar) and Lymbyc Systym’s Michael Bell (drums) to record his debut album, Magnolia, released in 2009 on Seattle-based Barsuk Records. As The Wooden Birds, Kenny has toured extensively in the United States, Canada and Europe and played SXSW in his hometown of Austin.
A well-known name in the indie-rock world, Kenny has collaborated with the Broken Social Scene, Her Space Holiday, Ola Podrida, Styrofoam and Arthur & Yu prior to and while acting as a mainstay in AmAnSet. His first band, Terrapin, was exceedingly mellow and named after a Sid Barrett song. At one time he was attending Columbia to become a biologist, but left school to record Set Free. Before beginning The Wooden Birds, Kenny joined Broken Social Scene on tour in late 2007 and wrote and performed the score for the short film, Pickup and Return.
For his endeavor as The Wooden Birds—named so because when he thought of the project he imagined a wooden machine, like a flightless wooden bird—Kenny’s usually hushed vocals are placed more to the fore, and the overall sound is more percussion heavy than his previous output. Said to have derived from heartbreak and a mild obsession with death—though he is happily married and healthy, he exercises his right to memory on the former and native curiosity on the latter—Magnolia is more than intricate than a simple singer/songwriter foray. Compared favorably to Bon Iver and Lindsey Buckingham, the record had many cameos and showcased some of Kenny’s earliest songwriting skills; he has said that “Hometown Fantasy” was written when he was a child back in his earliest memories, and when he found it on an old demo tape it occurred to him to use it. On “Seven Seventeen,” he and Leslie Sisson have endearing boy-girl interplay that brought to mind Fleetwood Mac in critical circles.