Interview with Kyle Bihrle of Sirens and Sailors
I stood behind the merch table using my phone as my recording device (the security guards to my recorder away for some reason) and looked up about a foot to shout my questions to Bihrle, who towered over my 5’1” self. He was drenched in sweat from his intense performance he had just put on, and was still a little breathless. As he wiped off the salty water still forming on his forehead, I began with asking how he managed to get Sirens and Sailors signed with Artery Records. I turns out that “we were actually in contact with them before we even signed to Tragic Hero. They were interested in re-releasing one of our full-length records, but it just didn’t happen to work out at that time, so we signed to Tragic Hero, released our EP, and we got off of Tragic Hero.” After their contract with Tragic Hero was finished, Bihrle “was talking to Artery, we’ve always kept in touch with them, so it happened they were interested to release our next record, so we signed with them.” Bihrle clearly isn’t the man to boast, but I can definitely say that an accomplishment such as that is impressive.
Speaking of impressive, I read on the Sirens and Sailors website that they did a lot of DIY touring before signing to any label, and I really wanted to know what that was like. Always with that gleam of passion in his eyes, Bihrle began by saying, “I booked all the shows and I think it was our second tour ever.” Okay, wait a second. He booked the band’s second tour ever? And he seemed so indifferent about it as if it were no big feat. I let him continue: “It went from New York to Texas, and it got so late and close to the tour starting that I didn’t have any routing on the way back.” Oops! “So we had to drive back all the way from Texas to home; I think it was twenty-seven hours straight.” Ugh, that sounds absolutely awful…bet that was a lesson they learned the hard way. But, always optimistic, Bihrle adds, “But it was worth it. All the shows were really good and it was a great experience.”
Now, I’m not sure if all of you know this, but last year when I saw Affiance twice in a weekend, one of the bands performing was Sirens and Sailors. I have to be honest that at that point in their career, they were still struggling a bit musically. But their energy…it drew me to the band and fascinated me. The passion was there from the beginning and I could see it. And that passion did them wonders. Their improvements over the year were astounding, and I simply had to know what they did to get so far. Bihrle states that, “it’s been a lot of hard work and the work will never end. It’s always gonna be our work.” I’m going to stop this for a minute. Did you hear that in your mind’s ear? Because I sure do. That is the dedication, the perseverance, the mind-blowing dedication that this band has. Sorry, for interrupting. You may continue, Kyle. “We are touring as much as possible, and…we just released a record three months back that we’re very proud of. It’s by far our biggest milestone, and the band is definitely pushing us in the right direction. We’re getting better tours, and just better opportunities. All our hard work and practice and dedication is paying off, so little by little we’re climbing up the ladder. In the words of ACDC, ‘it’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll.’”
So, whenever I interview a touring band, I want to ask what their experiences on tour have been like; what’s been the good? The bad? The ugly? However, according to Bihrle, most of it is just the good. “We try to keep it fun as much as possible. Obviously riding in a van for ours on end isn’t always the most entertaining thing, but we find ways to make it entertaining…Driver gets to pick whatever music he wants to be played in the van… Having your own music and iPod is essential…for whatever mood your in.” Sorry for all the ellipses, but Bihrle has a habit of saying “uh, umm, you know, uh,” and I choose to take that out for your own convenience. Apparently, they also make lemonade out of their extra time during the tour. “We stop at little places that look like little side shows and places on the expressway. You know, those cheesy truck stop things. If we have days off or if we have time to explore, we’re always exploring the places we go to when we have time…We get to see friends that we normally don’t get to see as often…and it’s always really great to see them. The fun is really nonstop to be honest, but the work is nonstop, too, so it’s a healthy mix.” I’m so deeply shocked at how compatible the band is. They get along and work together so well, it’s like a match made from heaven, but for five people instead of two—and, you know, a band and not a five-way. Anyways…I’m sure all you screamers out there are curious as to how to maintain your voices, and I figured that Bihrle, with the aggression he puts into his screaming, would be the expert, so I asked. Humorously, he states, “I like to believe I do it the proper way…for the most part, hydration is important. I don’t smoke cigarettes or anything; well, I don’t smoke cigarettes [inward chuckle]…Sleep is important. Just hydrate, eat good when you can even though it’s hard to. Take care of yourself; I mean, that’s really it for me.” I’m no singer, that’s why I write, but that seems like pretty good advice. I’d take it if I were you.
As I’ve said before, this band appears to be a match made from heaven, but I really wanted to know, what tension is there? Disagreements? Fights? I wanted a ton of juicy stories, but it turns out Sirens and Sailors is just as cohesive as I thought. As Bihrle puts it, “We try to always be happy, but things can get miserable sometimes and that’s how it goes with any band. We’re five best friends, we’re always there for each other no matter what.” In fact, even disagreements are settled easily, “Of course we always have our little arguments, but we’re five best friends, even when we get in a little argument, ten minutes later we’re back to normal. We’ve been touring together for a while now, so…we all know how each other will act and what to expect from each other, and, you know, we respect each other…we are the only people we have out here.” How? They must be the tightest-knit band ever. I had to know how they met. “Well, we...started this band in 2005. We were all in local bands previous to that that would always paly together at shows, and eventually we all just came together and formed one band. It just happened that our old bands were kind of breaking up or just falling apart at the time, so it…was a smooth transition from our old bands to Sirens and Sailors…We all had a feeling that this band was what we needed to be doing, so it’s been great.” I swear, they are on the side of good fortune. I just hope everything else continues to work out. I’m sure it will since they work so hard, and hard work always pays off, even if it’s a little cliché to say.
If any of you haven’t had to chance to listen to Sirens and Sailors’ new album, Skeletons, I suggest you do. The guitar work, the drums, the back-up vocals, Kyle…all of it works so perfectly. This masterpiece most have been done by someone, and I needed to know who. “We all bring ideas to the table. Todd, our guitarist, writes most of the riffs…Then Doug will work his drums in and we all kind of just sit there and give our own input on how we can better our songs…I write the lyrics, pretty much ninety-eight percent of them. Todd will help me out from time to time when I’m stuck and it’s always great to have somebody else’s opinion. In the long run, we all have our opinions on the music and that’s good.” This band…the way they work together is miraculous. Since Bihrle wrote the lyrics, I wanted to know what he puts into them. “I put a lot of my own personal experiences into the lyrics,” Bihrle reveals, “but I kind of disguise them as other stories or other characters. And sometimes I might just write about certain topics that I…feel like writing about. It’s always different.”
Have I been serious for too long? Well, don’t worry, here comes the fun stuff. Every small has a dream of a band they would want to open for or a band they would want to cover their music. Bihrle says, “Who would I like to have cover my music? Like, maybe ACDC or Blink-182. It would be interesting to see how it turned out, but it would be different. I think they would all have to approach it differently. Blink-182 might cover a song by us like ‘Now It’s Over’ or ‘Not That Easy.’ ACDC might cover a song by us like ‘Fear No Evil’ or ‘You and I.’” And what band would he want to open for? “If I could just make anybody, whether we fit with them or not, it would be Blink-182 or ACDC, Every Time I Die, August Burns Red…there’s a lot of bands.” Seems like fun to me. If I had a band, I would want to open for those bands too.
I had a great time speaking with Kyle Bihrle of Sirens and Sailors and I suggest you go check out their music and like them on Facebook if you get the chance.
Zoe Adler is a music journalist from Long Beach, California. Besides her website, which is her pride and joy, she works with the GRAMMY Foundation and the Long Beach Independent. Additionally, Ms. Adler is a musician, spending half of her time playing the flute, piccolo, trombone, and marching baritone. She has been with TeenView Music since the very start and hopes to make something of it in the future.