Total hours on stage: 13
Total spectators: About 1,000
Broken drumsticks: 2
Broken guitar strings: 1
Trampoline jumps: Too many to count
For the better part of the last two years, the rock trio has been putting in overtime in an effort to be the area’s hardest working band.
After averaging two to three shows per week in venues from here to California, Flying Mammals is making the jump to international touring status, launched by an international tour kickoff show Thursday.
The tour covers 5,000 miles with shows in Washington, Idaho, Canada and Alaska.
It may seem anti-climatic that by international they are referring to Canada, but the three brothers who make up Flying Mammals know as well as anybody, Canada is no less international even though it’s not an ocean apart.
“It’s not like in high school when you could just go to Canada for the weekend,” said Flying Mammals band leader and lead singer Aaron Birdsall. “Now it’s all the same logistics if we were to play in Japan or Europe because it involves us having to get temporary work visas. It’s costing us $450 per person. The last thing you want to do is book a bunch of shows and get to the border and get denied entrance. It’s Canada. It’s right there. But we still have to cross that border before we get to Europe and we have to claim that. That’s not a diss toward Canada.”
This trek outside of the country is a small one for Flying Mammals in the scheme of things, but Birdsall envisions it as the first of a long journey that he hopes will lead to Europe, Asia, Australia and beyond.
But the band is committed to living in the Inland Northwest while making its bid for global conquest through music.
“As a musician, you’re really not at home no matter where you live,” Birdsall said. “We played the House of Blues in California a year ago and it was the craziest thing because we are not a local band and to them it’s a little different but it fits really well. We pushed that show and tickets were $20 apiece and people were like, ‘Let’s go.’ That’s weird for us, being from Coeur d’Alene where it’s difficult to get someone to pay $5 and it’s like, why do we live up here again?
“But we realized after we came back the reason we live here is because it’s beautiful and the cost of living is great and there is an awesome artistic community. We decided to live here and be part of the scene. We can always tour other places.”
Birdsall attended school for audio engineering in Los Angeles and played in a number of national touring bands while living in Seattle before opening a recording studio in Spokane a few years ago.
Later he talked his brothers James and Andy into moving from Chicago to play in a band with him.
Originally the plan was to try to start a family band with all eight Birdsall siblings, but that proved to be too difficult with so many of them spread around the country.
The Birdsalls are a family that is artistically inclined as well as predisposed to math and sciences.
“My brother Jeremy got his music composition degree before he became a stock broker. Our sister Lisa has a music performance degree. My sister Becky is an actress and a singer. James’ twin, John, is finishing med school. Our dad’s a doctor and my mom’s an actress,” said Birdsall, who is a former nurse. “That’s what you get when you cross a doctor with an actress. Science and art are natural for all of us. We get together and talk about the latest technology then have a family jam.”
The three Birdsalls who make up Flying Mammals released their first album together, “Ready Set” last November.
“Because it was an album with my two brothers, we were able to get really creative with it. We had early influences that were similar because we we’re brothers, but James and Andy spent a lot of time in Chicago, and I moved to Seattle when I turned 18,” Birdsall said.
Guitarist/bassist/vocalist James and drummer/vocalist Andy Birdsall have a common connection to Chicago hip-hop and blues, while Aaron is steeped in Northwest indie rock. They blend their influences to make Flying Mammals’ distinct brand of pop rock.
“This is different than other bands because we have the family relationship. We don’t have band fights. We have family drama because we’re three of eight kids,” Birdsall said. “But when we’re a band, we’re just a band, and it’s an emotional release of artistic creativity.”
Together the three Birdsalls write the lyrics and music, although originally Aaron was the chief songwriter.
Sometimes they trade off lead singer duties.
The Brothers Birdsall also share a passion for putting on a dynamic live show, their trademark being their faithful trampoline that they bring onstage for them to leap off of midsong.
“I like bands that put on a show,” Aaron Birdsall said. “That’s going to make a live concert experience actually be a real show. All of the best shows I’ve seen are people doing crazy stuff, climbing on stuff and jumping off stuff, and really making an amazing effort to put on a great show.
“Like climbing on top of the bass cab and jumping off that, onto the trampoline and then to other side of stage. We always have our trampoline with us. It’s something people expect from a Flying Mammals show. I just have to make sure I don’t land wrong and get hit in the face with a mic stand.”