ACTUAL BIRDS is the nom de plume/art/musique of born/raised Michiganian Dustin Krcatovich. He has released many CDs, tape reels, comix, cassettes, etc. under this moniker and others. Live and on record, he has collaborated with members of SATURDAY LOOKS GOOD TO ME, HOT MEAT FOR YOUNG LOVERS, DRAGGING AN OX THROUGH WATER, OHIOAN & NATIVE KIN, THOSE TRANSATLANTICS, THE MIGHTY NARWHALE and many more.
Being raised in the small paper mill town of Otsego, MI, the boy who would grow into Actual Birds had two notable aural experiences early in life, both integral to understanding his development as a musical performer: the constant playing and replaying of Brian Hyland's 1960 hit "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini", and the cacophonous blast of exhaust emitted almost daily from the paper mill that sat kiddy corner from his childhood home. Both were equally, curiously satisfying to the developing mind of the young boy.
As a teenager, Krcatovich was introduced to punk rock, its sound being the closest he'd yet heard to combining the desirable aspects of his early influences. At the behest of the ghost of middle-school hero Kurt Cobain, Krcatovich began to play guitar (a right-hand model flipped upside down and played with the left hand in the right hand's place, a style which he continues to pursue to this day). In high school, he formed the "shitty" "punk" bands Retrograde Lobotomy and Megatron D.O.C. (the former never played a real show; the latter featured future members of soon-to-be-popular Grand Rapids, MI pop band THE MIGHTY NARWHALE), and the awesome comedy band, THE AARON PARSONS PROJECT (who never performed in front of anyone).
Krcatovich skipped college (rejecting his parents' urgings that he go to art school), instead moving to Ann Arbor, MI, birthplace of the Stooges and, unbeknownst to him at the time, Wolf Eyes (the best band currently coming out of Southeast Michigan and, possibly, the United States). Initially put off by the overall bourgeois tone of Ann Arbor, he moved back to his then-girlfriend's hometown, Kalamazoo, for a year. He soon regretted the decision, and returned to Ann Arbor to immerse himself in the town's underground music and art scene.
Upon moving to Ann Arbor, Krcatovich began to record, perform, and release music under an unnecessary number of false names: KITTY CAT PIRATE, LE PROFESSEUR LADYBUG, (ULTIMATE) CATFIGHT OF THE CENTURY..., and DUSTIN KRCATOVICH ESQ. Under the Le Professeur Ladybug moniker, he performed for a year as vocalist for the synth-rock band HEAT LIGHTNING, opening for such notables as WESLEY WILLIS, PARTS AND LABOR, and ((MICROWAVES)). All of these projects yielded very short-run CDR releases on HORRENDOUS FAILURE STUDIOS, the label/publishing house he'd been operating since high school with Heat Lighting bandmate RANDALL DAVIS. After splitting with Heat Lightning and Horrendous Failure over irreconcilable differences, Krcatovich focused on creating comics and zines for awhile (notably the series "SORRY ENTERTAINER" for local periodical THE ANN ARBOR PAPER, and the fanzine SHUTTLE BUS).
After a few months, Krcatovich (with "Esq." suffix) formed the imrpov/noise band TOTALLY AWESOME with then-girlfriend ELIZA GODFREY The couple also founded the label CASANOVA TEMPTATIONS to release their records. Unfortunately, Totally Awesome only played one show; the recording of said show yielded the first CASANOVA TEMPTATIONS release, "Pope Applauds Break Dancers".
Unlike TOTALLY AWESOME, the CASANOVA TEMPTATIONS label soon began to flourish, releasing CDRs and cassettes by Godfrey, FRED THOMAS (of Saturday Looks Good To Me), THE NEW SOUND OF MY BOSSA NOVA, COTTON MUSEUM, and SUPERBOWL PARTY (another Krcatovich guise), among others. Activity increased even more upon the founding of EVER WILL YOU GET THERE (a traveling musical happening created by JASON VOSS and JUSTIN SHAY of the WE'RE TWINS label, organized monthly by Voss and Krcatovich), and the founding of THE TOTALLY AWESOME HOUSE. The latter, which provided a home for Voss, PATRICK ELKINS, PENELOPE BRISTOL and Krcatovich, also provided a weekly "supper club" venue for such varied artists as CALVIN JOHNSON, KIMYA DAWSON, CASIOTONE FOR THE PAINFULLY ALONE, DEAD MACHINES, ODD CLOUDS, FRED THOMAS, 25 SUAVES and loads more.
The summer before, Krcatovich had attempted to start a Led Zeppelin-influenced rock and roll band with friends Loren Hsieh and Johnny Ill, called 'ACTUAL BIRDS', and later, 'THE ACTUAL BIRDS MIND-EXPANSION ENSEMBLE". The band was not meant to be, though: Ill quit the band before they ever played a show ("too cock-rock"), and Hsieh moved to California, thus definitively putting a kibosh on the group. The "Mind-Expansion Ensemble" moniker was thus applied to a series of all-inclusive, semi-improvised performances at the Totally Awesome House; not much later, "Actual Birds" became the new (and now, longest-running) umbrella moniker for Krcatovich's myriad projects.
When the TOTALLY AWESOME HOUSE was closed after eight months in May 2005, Actual Birds embarked on a three-week tour by Greyhound Bus (an idea lifted indirectly from Jonathan Richman, directly from Elkins and Voss), along the way playing shows with JEFFREY LEWIS, AH HOLLY FAM'LY, MANDARIN DYNASTY, FRIENDSHIP HURRICANE, and an awesome band consisting of Matt Wood (who was in a band with Krcatovich for one practice in high school) and a bunch of little kids in animal costumes. Upon returning to Ann Arbor, he formed two bands: ACTUAL BIRDS & THE HIGH SPIRITS, a revolving-cast noisefolk ensemble, and BRAIN SHAKE, a noise/crunk project with local DJ/beatmaker DJ PRETTY BOI.
Actual Birds has since toured several times with the aforementioned Mandarin Dynasty, as well as with Patrick Elkins and The High Spirits. Solo and with the High Spirits, Actual Birds has shared the stage with WHY?, LIZ JANES & CREATE(!), HALF-HANDED CLOUD, NATE YOUNG (WOLF EYES), FRED THOMAS (SATURDAY LOOKS GOOD TO ME), LITTLE CLAW, 2% MAJESTY, ...WORMS, and many more. After a year and change of living in Portland, OR (where he formed the Pete & Pete-Core band FOREVER STOKED with Chris and Thomas Hoganson), he returned to Michigan to work at his favorite record store.
SOME NICE THINGS SAID ABOUT ACTUAL BIRDS MUSIC:
“Comes from a place where the current freakfolk scene intersects with noise, and the result is whimsical, disorienting and often thrilling.”
“Easily one of the ten best Ann Arbor albums in 2005, The Sky Is Full Of Ghosts is varied and charming, weird and comfortable- and recommended.”
“…unleashed a sound that is perhaps matched only by the nightmares and/or daydreams of small children and/or terrifying monsters.”
-http://www.826michigan.org (in response to a performance by the High Spirits at a benefit show)
“This band does not appear to have any actual birds in it.”
-Eastern Echo (Eastern Michigan University student newspaper)
"Sadly after their set there was a small group of girls doting upon the front man."
-Some bitter guy's blog (in response to Actual Birds' band, The High Spirits)