Birdbrain (band)

Birdbrain (band)

Birdbrain were a short lived Boston post-grunge band. They managed to have minor success with their song "Youth of America" appearing in the hit film Scream along with a contribution to the The Last Supper soundtrack with a cover of "Jet", and their song "(She's Always) Glowing" to the album Got TVT?. They were formed by drummer Mike Benway and frontman Joey Ammo and signed to TVT Records in the mid 1990s. With two albums and two soundtrack contributions they broke up in the late 1990s. Joey Ammo moved home, years later releasing a solo album.


The Boston band was formed in the early 1990s after drummer Benway convinced Ammo during a chance meeting in a Roslindale watering hole that his proper place was writing and not as a roadie for neighborhood favorites, Snidely Whiplash. Benway, a childhood band mate of Ammo, rented a rehearsal studio, began funding some recording projects and setting up bookings. Benway hired manager Jeff Hudson (Jeff & Jane). Hudson successfully shopped the recordings to contacts at the indie label TVT Records in 1995 with their demo tape Princess, their contribution to the compilation Boston Rock n' Roll Anthology Vol 18. and especially the release of their self-produced, full-length CD, Bliss. The band went on tour in support of a TVT remix of Bliss.

Bliss was not as successful as they hoped and soon, guitarist James Dennis was driven from the band under creative pressure from Ammo. Because Benway had hired a lawyer to negotiate for a guaranteed second option in the initial contract, there was support from TVT to start a second album late in 1996. TVT was by all accounts very generous in this, according to Ammo "They backed us like we were goddamn U2". ( The label poured over two hundred thousand dollars into the production, well beyond the minimum thirty thousand required by the contract. The band spent weeks in pre-production at the spa-like Longview Farms studios, rented lots of choice vintage gear, and got mixing and post-production with J.J. Puig at Electric Lady Studios in Manhattan. This plush treatment was largely due to the dedication and intensely idealistic advocacy of A&R man Tom Sarig, who ended up leaving the label the next year.

By February 1997 Let's Be Nice was finished. After the session, with no distribution in place, Ammo in rehab (a fact memorialized in the CD artwork by a photo of Ammo's hand full of his daily pills), and no tour support, Benway refused to tour. He was replaced for the tour by Doctor Beukenheimer hired gun Lance Cole. After a disappointing performance at the South by Southwest conference in 1997, the label hired producer Tim Patalan to deliver intensive coaching (Tim trained drummers much like he had trained quarter horses on his family farm). Cole managed to shed enough of his speed-metal pedigree to perform the post-grunge material, and can be seen "stick-synching" to Benway's tracks in Manhattan on the video for "Youth of America".

About a year later the tour finally began. Cole eventually slipped away in the middle of the night after a show in Philadelphia where Ammo's on-going behavioral issues had become unbearable for him, taking the truck and all the band's gear with him, alone, back to Boston. This ended the tour. Cole never recorded with the band.

The band had become more successful with Let's Be Nice, especially with the single "Youth of America". They were nominated for Best Indie Album in the 1997 Boston Music Awards. Let's Be Nice received good reviews, but failed to launch the band into the mainstream. Ironically, the hired management, Longview Entertainment under Camille Barbone, had driven a wedge between Ammo and Benway, probably because of concern over his investment, thus destroying Ammo's principal source of stability during the long road leading to the recording deal. This management now opted not to have any mention of Birdbrain in the advertising materials for the movie Scream, citing potential negative publicity if the movie should fail. Perhaps hundreds of millions who thus heard Birdbrain play in the movie had no idea who they were listening to. They broke up shortly after the incident in Philadelphia, when TVT finally pulled the plug and the management resigned.


  • Joey Ammo- Vocals, guitar
  • Joe McCarthy Jr.- Bass guitar
  • Mike Benway- Drums, vocals

Discography and videography


External links

Notes and references

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