As you may or may not have heard, Sea Wolf has a new album coming out this Tuesday, September 22, called White Water, White Bloom. And, as you probably do know because you’re all such avid readers of Knox Road, we’re all big fans of the first released track, “Wicked Blood,” and have played it for two consecutive weeks on our radio show (which you should totally check out, by the way.)
We’re all pretty sold on the idea that this band is going to get very big very soon, which makes it even greater that we managed to procure an interview with the mastermind behind Sea Wolf, Alex Brown Church. And it’s right here, right now! This is the best Friday ever! Check it out below!
Sea Wolf – “Stanislaus” [MP3]
Knox Road: I was wondering, to start, what your thoughts are on the New York vs. California music scene and where you fit into the whole mix?
Alex Brown Church: [...] Well, it seems like there’s more of a particular sound coming out of New York than LA, which I feel is a little more scattered, and not as consistent as the New York scene. I don’t know why that is, maybe just because New York is more concentrated, like in Brooklyn, and LA is just more spread apart. [...] But, you know, I’m not really an expert on that stuff.
KR: You’ve joined the club of all the indie artists that have a song featured on an episode of Gossip Girl. Do you know how that happened, how that came about?
ABC: [laughs] Yeah, I got a call one day: “Hey, you want to be on this TV show?” I didn’t really want to do it, but the label and my management thought it would be a good thing to do, so we said yes. [...] When it happened, Gossip Girl wasn’t a huge show or anything, it was just kind of starting out.
KR: Then, in retrospect, would you say that it was worth it?
ABC: I have no idea. I couldn’t measure the success, or what that did for us at all, I couldn’t say. But I don’t regret it, I’m fine with it.
KR: In a similar vein, some other songs have also appeared in certain ad campaigns, so was licensing your music for a commercial a tough decision? Did you have anything against that?
ABC: It’s always kind of weird, the idea of being associated with a brand or something, or associated with anything other than the music or the band. It’s never really that appealing, unless it’s something cool, like a cool movie or something like that. Commercials aren’t cool. [...] Kids don’t buy records, they all burn CDs, so how are bands supposed to make money, and how are we supposed to continue to be a band unless we do stuff like that? For me, it was sort of a lesser of two evils kind of situation.
KR: So, moving onto the new album: in terms of songwriting, did you approach it any differently? I noticed the tone and the sound are a little bit different between the two most recent full lengths.
ABC: Right. [...] The way I write songs is pretty consistently the same, but this time I had a shorter period of time to write, and the first record was done over a period of several years. I did write a few songs maybe a year and a half ago but most of the songs are written in the past year, and so that kind of created more of a consistency, I think, between songs, and the songs are different because I’m just in a different place now than I was when I wrote songs for the first record.
KR: I was actually going to ask: do the differences come from being in a different place emotionally, or is it just progressing in the type of music you’re more interested in making?
ABC: I mean, I think both. I think there’s both of those.
KR: Then what can your fans of Leaves in the River expect from the new one?
ABC: They can expect a bit more of a “band” feeling from the record, and a bit more energy, I guess.
KR: I noticed, especially through the song “Wicked Blood,” I feel like there’s a lot more going on, like a lot more string work, and I’m sure that was a conscious thing to give more of that “band” feel.
ABC: Yeah. We tracked the record – the main bass, drums, guitar and keyboard, piano – we tracked a lot of that live and layered on top of that. We tried to have it have more of a group feel. I think all the lushness and layering, a lot of that was Mike Mogis. That was something we talked about before going into the studio, as something that he felt would be really good steps for Sea Wolf to head in that direction. So we went in knowing that we were going to have a string quartet, and proceeded accordingly.
KR: When you were writing these songs, did you have any direct influences? Did anything really impact you during the writing process?
ABC: Mostly I would say just the experience of being — I wrote most of the record in Montreal while seeing my girlfriend there, and most of that time was in the colder months, in the snow, rain and just cold outside. So I spent a lot of indoor time, and being in that foreign city, [...] everybody’s speaking French, and it’s a lot different than where I’m from, which is the west coast. I think just that created a feeling of self-reflection and contemplation, and then just the mood of the city probably contributed, my mood and the feeling that I put into the songs, so I would say that probably is the biggest thing.
KR: For the new album, for someone who hasn’t been a fan previously, how would you classify the sound? How would you describe it to them?
ABC: I would say kind of big, dark, folk rock.
KR: If you had a Hot List: five songs you’re currently listening to consistently, could you give me those and a little bit about them?
ABC: Yeah, sure. Man, five songs, that’s kind of a long answer. I mean, I haven’t really been listening to much lately because it’s just been so busy. I have been listening to Bob Dylan’s Self Portrait album, and also his album New Morning which was just reissued on CD, and written after, which sounds good. I’ve been listening to those records. No song in particular, though.