'A lot of the time we're learning our instruments as we go along,' admits Architecture in Helsinki's uncommonly cheerful and vocally eccentric front man, Cameron Bird. 'That's always been the case. I mean, I've only been writing music-or playing music at all--for, like, seven years. I kind of like the fact that we've never learned how to properly play our instruments.'Once boasting eight members but now a mere six, Australian-born indie-pop noisemakers Architecture in Helsinki--whose sound is like a hurricane of handclaps, finger snaps, Casio keyboards and thrill--seeking kids run amok in a music classroom-have capitalized on their relative lack of formal skills.'Our music is always formed in a way, and the structure of our songs has always been, very independent,' explains Bird. 'It's good from our perspective, very much so because we're not coming from a learned, trained musical background. I think that translates in our songs and in our music and the way we feel about playing.'Once Architecture in Helsinki began their first tour-to support their joyously weird debut album, Fingers Crossed--Bird says he discovered an aspect of performance art that nearly eclipsed the sincere passion he had for songwriting.'The interaction with the audience-I totally love that part of it!' he says. 'Going to see what effect our music has on other people is such an overwhelming experience.'Among the people the group's music recently influenced is French film director Vincent Moon. While at their show in Paris, Moon filmed himself from the neck up, dancing and singing along (oftentimes horribly off-key) to the band's energetic performance. Shortly after uploading the grin-eliciting video to YouTube, Moon was approached by a journalist named Chryde, founder of the popular French music blog La Blogothèque (www.blogotheque.net). As a result of Chryde and Moon's meeting, the duo began producing Les Concerts à Emporter (in English, 'Take-Away Shows'), a weekly video podcast featured on La Blogothèque in which relatively well-known bands are filmed playing spontaneous and unrehearsed shows in unconventional urban environments. One features eight members of Canadian indie-rock band Arcade Fire crammed into a freight elevator while playing an acoustic version of their song 'Neon Bible.''It's interesting,' Bird says. 'The concept behind the Take-Away Shows actually came from an Architecture in Helsinki concert. That was the catalyst for the entire creative partnership.'Fittingly, Chryde and Moon asked the band to take part in their own episode of the Take-Away podcast.
They all met on a street in an old Paris neighborhood, armed with an arsenal of instruments, a couple of battery-powered amplifiers and a large group of Architecture in Helsinki fans.
'We posted a bulletin on MySpace asking people to come sing with us shortly before we started filming,' Bird recalls. 'About 30 people turned up within the hour. It was kinda cool.'Just after filming began, one of their amps died. Adding to the improvisational aspect of the performance, they asked the neighbors in one of the second-floor apartments if they could borrow some electricity. Bird and bandmate Kellie Sutherland soon found themselves singing/shouting from the windows of two separate upstairs apartments. An extension cord delivered power to the rest of the band and the amateur choir, which was singing and dancing on the street below.Bird says the neighborhood show in Paris wasn't the only surprise street performance they've played. 'We did a show in Boulder where someone came up to us an hour after our performance and said, ‘I really wish you would have played that one song,' and we took them out to the back alley to do a mini-performance for them,' Bird laughs. 'It was only for two people.'I think all we had with us were acoustic guitars and some congas. Luckily, they didn't think we were going to bludgeon them to death.' Architecture in Helsinki plays with Glass Candy and Panthers at House of Blues on Friday, Nov. 2. $13-$15. 619-299-BLUE.