Profile (Sunday Edition): Tom Ridley of Poisonous Birds

Sunday’s are reserved for metal adjacent things that you shouldn’t miss out on. Call it a Rainbows in the Dark Profile edition or Rainbows in the Profile. Either way, the UK’s Poisonous Birds just released a stunning EP, We Can Never Not Be All Of Us, that’s as much electronica as it is lush, cinematic post-rock. However, simple genre tags are rendered useless across these six tracks of highly charged, highly emotional, and extraordinarily detailed art. The title was taken from a Bon Iver podcast in reference to tensions on the Texas border but with current events it has become even more timely. Simply put, this is an EP that not only was born from an important message but also has the power to soothe at a time when we all need it most. We recently had the chance to ask Tom Ridley (vocals, electronics, production) our set of Profile questions so read on below to see how it went down. And, be sure to pick up a copy of the EP from the links contained within.

How did you first get into playing music, and have you achieved the level of success that you hoped for?

I was given an electric guitar at age 11 and it’s been an endless journey of discovery ever since – I’m still learning every day. I lost interest in the electric guitar a few years ago and today I predominantly used synthesisers, samplers and computers to create music. Success is a difficult and dangerous thing to measure. I’m grateful when people listen to my music and tell me that they like it, but I would create it anyway.

What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, and praised? (If you don’t have a story, please tell us any funny/embarrassing story.)

Just this week I was asked to give a talk about Ableton Live, which is the main tool I use in the studio. I had a whole thing planned, but had a world of technical problems due to it being a live stream which I didn’t foresee and it was a total car crash. I don’t think it was interesting to anybody and I’m still really embarrassed. I try really hard to maintain a super high standard in everything that I do, even if they’re supposed to be casual and fun. I learned something there.

What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?

I’m not really a part of the metal scene so I don’t know. Loathe are a cool band.

It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music?

The new record is called We Can Never Not Be All Of Us, which is a pretty clear message of unity, but making art is an inherently political act, and if I’m being honest with my audience, my values will be exposed through my work. As a white, cis, British man I recognise my privilege and I’m trying every day to better understand the experiences of those who are oppressed in order to unpick the mechanisms in our society that cause oppression. I’ve been trying to affect positive change in my community and I hope others reading this are doing the same.

What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?

One of the first records I ever owned was Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory. From there it was a slippery slope into more and more aggressive music, but it’s those early formative albums that I still go back to today.

What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?

Treat the work with the respect and seriousness that it deserves, even if it feels pretentious.

What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.

To create better and better work. With the new record We Can Never Not Be All Of Us I’ve arrived at the best version of a sound that’s been in my head for years. But there’s so much more to say within the (ever-moving) parameters of this project. I’m really interested in designing a late-night show for club spaces to push the boundaries of my music and the audience.

When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)

Rival Consoles’ new album ‘Articulation’ is stunning.

What is the 12-month outlook for you or your band? Any specific events on the horizon that the masses should be aware of?

A 6-track EP called We Can Never Not Be All Of Us just came out, and we’re on tour around the UK in February with our friends in Phoxjaw.

Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)


Many thanks to Tom for his time!

We Can Never Not Be All Of Us is available now on the band’s Bandcamp page. For more information on Poisonous Birds, visit their official website.

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