Architecture in Helsinki love Tucson

By Michael Petitti
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, October 13, 2005

Cameron Bird, the de facto leader of Australian indie-pop band Architecture in Helsinki, is a bit tired. His band has been on the road nearly all year touring America, Europe, Australia, back to America, and soon back to Europe and Australia. A pattern is emerging and the lack of sleep is catching up with the band.

"We've pretty much had like four weeks off (this past year)," Bird said. "So, really, we're all running on empty."

Audiences, however, might be shocked to hear that the energetic eight-piece group is slowing down in any way. After all, their live show is a musical party with members swapping dozens of instruments and tearing through their songs with consistent blasts of unadulterated enthusiasm.

The band's latest album, In Case We Die, has not only topped most critics' lists, but it's become a fan favorite for those who love the energy of the Arcade Fire but frown upon their sincerity. For its brief runtime, In Case We Die flies through 12 tracks of rambunctious indie-pop with instruments like guitar, bass and keyboards coming together with unusual, found-sound items like the musical saw and power tools.

The band's current tour has already been a bit hectic. Bird and crew were in Washington, D.C., when I called and we had more than two hours of delays, including no cell phone service and a rainout, before getting the straight skinny on the already crazy tour.

"It's been a roller coaster experience," Bird said. "We've had some amazing shows, but we had to cancel our concert in Montreal, which was a huge downer. We had a flat tire and we needed a set of parts to change the flat tire that were very specific to the car, so we were stuck on a street in Chicago at 5 in the morning for a couple of hours. It wasn't really the high point of our lives."

However, the band shows no signs of slowing down. As In Case We Die continues to gain momentum and new fans, the band has its sights set on traveling the world over - several times - before they decidedly crash.

"We're going to Europe for a month and then Australia for a few dates," Bird said. "Then we'll probably just sleep for a couple months, hibernation-style."

No one can blame the band for slacking. Not only have they been touring nonstop - leaving everything on the stage - but they're already "tinkering away" on the next album.

The last time the band hit Tucson, audiences were treated to a live experience not seen since, well, the Arcade Fire attempted to squeeze so many bodies and instruments onto Solar Culture's tight stage. The band even wrote about their final American tour stop on their tour diary - posted on Pitchfork's Web site: "Tucson is a mythical beast of a town. After a few world-record times on the 25-meter pool we return back to the rooftop of Solar Culture for our first American desert sunset - and it truly is a wondrous spectacle. ... Tonight's crowd is particularly special: They make animal noises on command, start conga lines, dance, sway - and we see a hot young couple kissing in the front."

Cameron was quite tickled as he recalled memories of the Old Pueblo.

"Yeah, we love Tucson," Bird said. "Yeah, very much so. Although there's some dangerous native wildlife."

When asked to explain, Bird could barely contain his laughter.

"Just spiders and scorpions and girls," Bird said. "No, I really like that amazing hot dog stand in southern Tucson."

Bird, of course, was talking about the delectable El GŁero Canelo, home of the Mexican hot dog (yeah, the one wrapped in bacon).

"That Mexican hot dog stand is the culinary experience that I'm most excited about on this tour," Bird said. "I love Tucson; it was amazing."

There you have it: even Australians love our Mexican food. To see Architecture in Helsinki play with reckless abandon, head on over to Solar Culture, 31 E. Toole Ave., tomorrow at 9 p.m. The $8 show is all ages.