Greg says that
his love for music began when he was just a baby, he remembers a blue bell
that hung over his crib that chimed when the crib was rocked, “This
chiming planted the seed of music in my soul, needing nourishment and growth.”
Says Greg “From that point on I wanted to share the music I felt with the
rest of the world.” But it was Jimi Hendrix that would put rock n roll
into his blood. He remembers hearing Hendrix’s version of "The Star-Spangled
Banner" on the Woodstock soundtrack and that set him on the path to rock.
He started playing air guitar with a tennis racket to the likes of The
Who, Hendrix and Santana. His older sister began taking him to concerts
and his friends turned him on to bands like KISS, AC/DC, Queen, Led Zeppelin,
Boston, and Pink Floyd.
Greg remembers his first attempt at playing
music was trying to copy Keith Moon on a friend’s drum set at the age of
seven. Even before he entered junior high, he started playing the guitar
and banjo; the seductive beckoning of music began calling his name.
Like Miley, Greg gained exposure to a
wide variety of music at a young age ranging from classic rock to jazz
and world music. In high school he played percussion, the upright and electric
bass in the school bands as
well as gigging with bands on the club scene. But it was Jazz that really
fired Greg’s musical ambitions, “Upon hearing Miles Davis' ‘Bitches
Brew’ and a bootleg of a 1984 King Crimson concert, I was completely blown
away.” Remembers Greg years later. “There was an immediate and urgent quality
to these improvisational recordings that inspired me to become a better
musician.” But some people close to Greg say that his real ambition was
to be in Van Halen.
Before leaving high school, Greg had developed
an amazing proficiency on the bass; his style owed more to the freeform
feel of Jazz than the simple scales and modes used in rock and pop. Like
the jazz greats that inspired him, Greg approached his playing of the bass
guitar as a lead instrument, playing complex and musically intricate bass
lines while most rock bassist settle for playing off the guitarist leads
plucking out the root notes of chords and maybe adding a little flavor
by playing the accompanying scales. Greg’s exposure to Jazz and his early
childhood love of bands like the Who and the Jimi Hendrix experience helped
him breakout of the simplistic mindset of most rock bassist and
develop a progressive style that would mark his playing from then on. Even
at a young age his talents were recognized, he won awards from the Lion's
and Rotary clubs of the State of Michigan and the Louis Armstrong Award
for jazz performance. He was firmly on the road to a career in music.
He didn’t have to travel far to further
his quest as a musician, in fact a source for his further musical education
was literally just up the road, “At the time I was living in Kalamazoo,
Michigan, home of the Gibson guitar factory. I was able to learn a lot
about electric and acoustic string instruments from former employees who
were building and repairing on their own.” He also began writing,
arranging and recording music with his best friend, Dave " Pot Roast "
After graduation from High School, Greg
headed west to the college town of San Luis Obispo, California in 1994.
He took his previous musical experience and found fellow musicians and
began playing in bands, performing his original songs. For work he took
the skills he learned at the Gibson factory in Kalamazoo and put them to
use designing and building custom string instruments.
The Birth of Bird3
He stayed in San Luis Obispo for about
a year and then decided to head south to the Los Angeles suburb of Long
Beach with it’s thriving musical and art culture. It was in the Long Beach
music scene that Greg ran into a gifted singer songwriter named Brett Bixby,
the two musicians seemed to be on the same page musically so they formed
a band called twelvehourmary and
began playing shows on the Long Beach, Orange County and Los Angeles music
circuits pursuing a record deal and stardom. After a couple of years Greg
changed directions by becoming a music teacher, studio musician and jamming
with a variety of bands ranging from classic rock, modern rock, jazz and
even country. “My performances with these and many other groups led
to showcasing for major record labels and publishing companies in Los Angeles
and New York,” remembers Greg. “Performing also led to national touring,
creating a bit of a buzz around me. Constant gigging and studio work in
and around the Los Angeles area led to calls from management and A&
R representatives. My break came when one such representative called regarding
a bassist without limitation.”
to be smiling on Bird, Miley and Greg, in June of 1999 these three musicians
joined forces to create modern rock’s newest power-trio.
Greg tells the story of how he was first
introduced to Bird “I drove to Hollywood to hear songs from a singer/songwriter
named ‘Bird’ and was astonished by the variety, maturity, energy and simplicity
of his songs. After jamming with Bird I was convinced I had found a
prime opportunity to stretch out musically and become part of a great band.”
There was only one hitch, Greg wasn’t convinced that the drummer Bird was
using was quite up to musical snuff for the band and music he envisioned
would evolve from his partnership with Bird. Greg then remembered a gifted
drummer he had known from the Long Beach music scene named Michael Miley.
“I had known Miley from the Long Beach scene and realized I needed his
versatile and dynamic style of drumming to form the rhythm section of ‘Bird3’”.
Previous to Bird3
Miley and Greg had made a pact to one day play together, once they had
met Bird and heard his music they knew that this was the band they were
destined to be part of. “We all played effortlessly together from the first
downbeat; it was definitely magical.” Says Miley of his first time playing
with Bird and Greg. “They played me 19 songs and I thought the songwriting
was untouchable; and, thankfully, Bird was down to earth. With his
soulful, caressing voice and thick guitar tone, combined with Greg's power
and musicianship on the low-end, I knew my job was to provide a relentless
and sensitive foundation for, essentially, this ‘power trio.’”
Bird reflects on that day, “The three of
us jammed for like two hours and that was it. We all knew it was right
from the first time, that it was just magic. It was like they were me on
those different instruments. They play exactly how I would play. My songs
sound the same now as they always have, but they now have a fire. These
guys bring an awesome fire and energy and power to my music."
From there they began rehearsing and made
their live debut as a band in January 2000 at the legendary Roxy on Sunset
Strip. From that day a buzz began with several record company beginning
to pay attention to this new power-trio from Long Beach. The band eventually
decided to ink a deal with Immergent Records, a label launched by 5.1 Entertainment
Group - a company co-founded by veteran producer Ken Callait (Fleetwood
For the recording of their debut album,
the band went to A&M Studios in Los Angeles and then flew to Atlanta
to record at the “Monkeyboy” studio in the home of producer Nick Didia
who co-produced the album with the band and Richard Dashut (Fleetwood Mac,
Elton John, BTO, Bob Welch). Legendary A&R man for A&M Records,
Mark Mazzetti acted as executive producer with Nick Didia using his talents
to mix the band’s self-titled debut.
The resulting album had two distinct personalities.
The first half of the CD is comprised of 5 surefire hit singles, from the
modern rocker “Fit” to the Foo Fighter’esq “Mess” and the punk popish “Girl
Next Door” to the
irresistible song about the agony of discovering you can not relive your
youth, “Forgot Your Name” to the heartfelt ballad “Glow”. Beginning with
the sixth track “Air Crisp” the band explores its more progressive side
mixing elements of The Who with the Smashing Pumpkins and progressive rock
who really know their way around their instruments have a tendency to get
locked into a virtuoso mindset and as a result their songs suffer. Sure
they may be able to blow the minds of fellow musicians but the average
rock listener is usually after a more cohesive melodic approach to songwriting.
Bird3 provides the best of both worlds.
Their songs have as many hooks as any top 40 hit but at the same time there
is a solid foundation of world-class musicianship that gives the songs
a musical integrity not found on most modern chart topping hit singles.
The Long Flight Ahead.
Their debut album was released in June
of 2001 to critical praise, within weeks the momentum began to build as
the band landed supporting slots on two major tours. They first hit the
road opening for Veruca Salt, winning over fans from coast to coast. From
their they joined The Cult, Stabbing Westward, and Monster
Magnet on the “Beyond Good and Evil Tour” mesmerizing audiences at every
stop. After the Cult tour they played an unforgettable show at the House
of Blues in Los Angeles where they upstaged headliner “Lennon”; after Bird3’s
high-energy performance half the audience left before Lennon could take
the stage. Then last summer they introduced themselves to punk and alternative
fans during a string of dates on the Vans Warped Tour.
despite a wealth of potential hit singles on their album, thus far the
band’s label has been unable to come up with the muscle required to break
the band on radio and thus expose them to a larger audience. That coupled
with the lack of budget for a music video to break the band on MTV, the
group has been forced to make their reputation on the road. While that
may prove to be a blessing in disguise as the band’s high energy live performances
always seem to win the hearts and ears of those lucky enough to witness
them, the band seems to be sitting on an untapped goldmine with their
debut album, which could easily be a multi-platinum success if enough resources
were devoted to breaking it. Sadly, very few
independent labels have the money or influence that the major labels do
when it comes to breaking artists, even a label like Immergent, which has
so many prominent music industry people involved with their operation.
But you never can tell, a few years ago an independent startup label
called “Wind-Up Records” managed to break their first release by an unknown
band called Creed, with their debut selling over four million copies. So
it can be done, it just takes money, promotion, talent and luck. The songs
are there, it’s now simply a matter of people hearing them and falling
in love with this band.
As I write this the band is hard at work
creating the music that will comprise their sophomore album, the new film
staring American Pie’s Tara Reid is about to be released featuring the
band’s song “Forgot Your Name” and the second single from their debut is
about to be released to radio. So it is possible that in the coming months,
Bird3 will break wide-open and gain the
mass audience they so richly deserve.
I consider myself fortunate to have discovered
this band when I did, like I said at the beginning they were the
best birthday present I ever received. So if the gods of rock-n-roll are
paying attention, March 21st 2002 is coming up fast and if I can have just
one birthday wish this year, it is for the rest of the world to discover
the magic of Bird3!
the Official Bird3
Photos by Keavin Wiggins
Copyright 2002 Iconoclast
All Rights Reserved
Keavin Wiggins is the founder
and Managing Editor of the iconoFAN Network