Northern Soles #3
It’s the end of the world as we know it. Questionable historian Sam Briggs is going to spend it by the sea
It’s not just the States that’s getting all the musical fundraising at the moment. Anthologies is a Leeds-based not-for-profit project formed to celebrate the artistic community and surroundings of Leeds. Following on from the success of last year’s fundraising campaign, Anthologies have this year teamed up with Hide & Seek Records to produce another full album of alternative takes on Christmas classics, to raise money for Simon on the Streets, providing support to local people who are homeless and rootless. Silent Night? God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen? Even Little Drummer Boy gets a look in. Featuring contributions from top local bands, including Dancing Years, Post War Glamour Girls and Hope & Social, alongside a chance to win loads of raffle prizes, this is a top package well worth your Christmas pennies, even if it wasn’t for such a good cause. For more information, to donate, and to download for however much you can spare, head to justgiving.com/AnthologiesChristmas2012. If you’re in Leeds tonight, get yourself over to the Brudenell for a fundraiser to promote the compilation, featuring the S.S.S.S.S., Backyards and Grant K. Fennell.
If the world was going to the end, the coast seems a nice place to be. Admittedly, the Wirral wouldn’t be my first choice, but such is the home turf for this week’s spotlight and their maritime moniker – By The Sea. Their recently released eponymous debut is a positively blissful wave of hypnotic melody, floating on intricate guitar lines and oozing through a wash of dreamy reverb. Combined with poetic lyrics and a hallucinogenic sheen, the album is an abstract patchwork of alternative escapist pop well worth getting lost in. We caught up with Danny to discuss the unique universe they conjure up.
Where did the name for the band come from?
It's a track from a Wendy and Bonnie album called 'Genesis'. The track was sampled by the Super Furry Animals. It's beautiful. I've always liked how the name acknowledges the sea, but doesn't try to interpret its influence. I like that unspoken relationship you can have with water. I guess that's why so much art, writing, music etc. deals with the sea. We all grew up on a peninsula, naturally.
How would you categorise and describe your debut album? Is the goal still to sound like "a series of failed Springsteen anthems played with too many chorus pedals"?
Ha. That was just a flippant comment I made after getting tired of the same old comparisons. It clearly doesn't sound like Bruce Springsteen. I feel like getting as close as possible to the claustrophobic and poetic universe created on 'Born to Run' should be every band's ambition though!
What were the highs and lows of recording it?
The best bit was hearing the first mix of 'Dream Waters' and realising we were capable of creating something special. However, self-recording is very time consuming. VERY time consuming.
Despite you having a pretty formed sound and accomplished debut, you're still operating slightly under any mainstream or hype radar? Are you content with this or can it get frustrating?
I'm not sure we ever expected any mainstream exposure. And 'hype' is fickle. Media and industry attention will come and go, we're just concentrating on being the best band we possibly can. If we can do that, the rest will take care of itself.
Is it ever a struggle being a new band in the North West when it feels like much of the industry's focus is elsewhere? To what extent would you describe yourselves as a North West band?
I'm not sure it's a struggle at all. We've never felt isolated here. Maybe we've been lucky to be invited to play shows all over the country, I don't know. The scenes here and in Manchester are just as vibrant as in London in my opinion.
I think being from the North can have it's advantages. We're still very much developing, every day. Bands like Palma Violets and Savages, with the press attention they receive, can and only ever will originate from London, because the industry is so centralised there. But who knows if that kind of attention is a good thing? It brings with it a pressure and expectation, at a time when they must still be finding their way creatively.
A lot of the album's lyrical content is quite poetical, and obscure. Is this a conscious thing? What do you write music about?
Consciously, a lot of the lyrical content was inspired by Robert Frost poems. Observing or being in a situation, with a descriptive environment to put in you in that place, which always seems to be rural… I suppose that's the most picturesque/romantic scene. Also, a lot of later Beach Boys lyrics for me seem to describe some perfect idyllic dream, intertwined with love and (or) loss, always something you can connect with.
Any big influences on the band musically, for this album and beyond?
We've just got back from the first studio sessions of the second album, and I think there's going to be a more concentrated '80's indie' sound on the next one. Lots of New Order. We’ll hopefully tour lots, and make another record this year.
What new local bands should we be checking out?
Minnetonka, Tear Talk and Two Sunsets are all based on Merseyside. We're all looking forward to hearing more from those guys in 2013!
For more information, the band are frequently found at http://www.facebook.com/bytheseaband. Their debut album is available on CD, vinyl and digital, and can be streamed on SoundCloud. A cracking stocking filler for the introspective Northerner inside of all of us.
15 - Tranmere Rovers supporters Trust Charity events - Cammel Lairds, Birkenhead
31 - Leaf, Liverpool