Blackbird Raum formed out of the nucleus of a squatter community living in abandoned buildings and greenbelt treehouses in Santa Cruz, CA, in 2004. Finding themselves living without electricity, they began to learn to play folk instruments from each other and other members of the train hopping, squat culture. The band had played in anarcho-punk, indie, metal, and ska bands and then, learning traditional music from jams, contradances and festivals, made based somewhere right in the middle of punk, metal and folk. Their repertoire includes folk songs with Appalachian influenced time signature gymnastics that owe much to crust, hardcore, and metal and slower, drone influenced folk pieces with three, four, and five-part vocal harmony.Avoiding the retro aesthetic of many other folk punk bands, they write music that addresses abusive police, modern alienation, ecological devastation, creeping ambiguity and vague fear, but also stories of resistance, mythology, a strong sense of community, and a deep love of a natural world constantly on the verge of collapse. Critics began to take more notice when 2013’s “False Weavers” saw the band change their sound. They incorporated more adventurous studio elements, bringing in many more instruments than on previous records.
The earlier split with Hail Seizures saw the addition of fiddle and galician pipes, but “False Weavers” brought synthesizer, resophonic baritone guitar, bouzouki, and post-recording manipulation. There were also stylistic changes of Crass-influenced shouting interludes, and traditional folk passages in the style of Irish folk bands like Planxty and American traditional fiddlers like John Salyer.
In 2015, Blackbird Raum’s fifth full-length “Destroying” continued to experiment and, after multiple tours of the US and Europe with them, included many contributions from Dublin’s Lynched including spoken word passages, uilleann pipes, concertina and large amounts of Irish traditional influence. Later that year, Mars left the band to focus on activism and her side project Pale Robin.