In the midst of winter, when most bands hole up and hibernate, Oklahoma City’s The Wurly Birds bundled up, packed their instruments and made their way to the Paseo to play for the passersby.
They plunked down a guitar case to hold any tips the modest crowds might be willing to donate and played for whomever enjoyed the sound enough to stand in the cold alongside them.
“When the weather was nice, it was a good reception. Most nights, it was really cold and almost unbearable,” vocalist/guitarist Taylor Johnson said. “One of the colder nights, we were playing outside of DNA Galleries, and Wayne Coyne came up and started watching us. He liked it well enough to do an introduction for us on a live video we did.”
It’s the sort of action a young and hungry band would take to get out there to the people, and although The Wurly Birds are both those things, they are hardly inexperienced. The quintet’s style of indie rock meets Motown soul was born of pieces of both active and retired metro acts like The Electric Primadonnas and Roe Sham Beau.
“I think we’re all veterans in that respect. Just different wars,” Johnson said.
Knowing what might come has led the group to adapting something akin to the Boy Scouts motto; The Wurly Birds have been prepared for anything and everything from the start, armed with a full-length album before they even played their first show ... somewhat by accident.
“It started out as Chris (Anderson, guitairst) and I just getting together to record some songs, really,” Johnson said. “We had no spoken intentions of even starting a group. By the time we finished the first album, we had a full group together and decided it was time to play a show.”
We’re all veterans. Just different wars.
They haven’t slowed down since that first spin back in July, having already recorded a follow-up to their eponymous debut. A summer tour, music video (all of six months in the making) and more steady shows are on the slate for the coming months. The broad appeal of their music — borrowing from The Kinks to Curtis Mayfield — has helped those things come to fruition. Everyone from teens to listeners twice the band members’ age love the timeless nature of the Birds’ tunes, ensuring a steady flight; see for yourself Saturday at The Conservatory.
“It’s this kind of full-circle thing,” Johnson said. “Our parents love the music, and I think that it’s because all of us listen to the music we listen to because that’s what they started us off with, which comes to influence us. I think it’s a cross-generational kind of music, and I’d like people to consider it to be genuine.”