Interview by Annabel Bayross
Having been around for a good few years now, touring with the likes of Ash and Jimmy Eat World, with two album releases behind them, Seafood have now signed a three album deal in America with the label Nettwerk. Often likened to The Pixies and Sonic Youth the three male, one female composite have just begun the first leg of their UK tour. This month sees the timely re-launch of their second album WHEN DO WE START FIGHTING… which includes original demos and live performances. I met up with them on the second night of the tour, before the gig, to chat about the band and their plans for the future.
So what do you think of the Forum?
DAVID: We played here before actually, that was with Wilt and Turn, about two years ago – it was a good night.
Yeah, it’s nice and cosy….
DAVID: [Laughs]…It’s good, we’ve heard it’s sold out. I think it’s a good bill as well, you know. Seafood; it’s good loud rock for everyone to listen to.
And how did yesterday go? The beginning of your tour, wasn’t it?
DAVID: Great, sold out. Queues down the street, really exciting. So it’s a bit of a buzz, but it’s only the second night of the tour so… But it’s a first for us so we’re glad we’re doing smaller venues. It’s better to pack them out than play bigger venues that aren’t full… we’re not that big yet. It’s brilliant though, it’s so exciting.
Did you enjoy recording in New York?
CAROLINE: Yeah [pause] Well no, not at all [laughs]
Very stressful then?
CAROLINE: It was stressful but I think after we came back and had a month of recovering we realised it was absolutely brilliant. Even though we were in New York we didn’t see that much of it because we were working every day. It was great though, you just popped out to the local deli for a sub, whatever, and we were like “cool, we are in New York!” and then back to the studio.
Was that your first time over there?
CAROLINE: We played there about a year before, did a short tour, played at CBGB’s, which was one of our ambitions. So it’s sort of not that strange a place anymore.
DAVID: Definitely holds a special place in our hearts. It was wicked feeling like we were living there, even if it was just for a month.
I really like the photograph in your album inlay card, the chairs on the rooftop looked very cool.
CAROLINE: Actually we had tried to do some proper photos. Because we all had to be in the studio at 10 or 11am, we had to get up at six or seven in the morning and went to this roof – it was a freezing cold day in January – we were all stripped down, trying to look good. In the end we just had the four chairs, because they looked better than all of us. [Laughter]
DAVID: Jordan the photographer just put them all together, we were just mucking about and it turned out to be the best photo.
What made you re-release WHEN DO WE START FIGHTING…’ with six extra demo tracks?
CAROLINE: It’s basically to re-launch the album. We released it and people bought it, but this is kind of to give it another push and also the 6 extra tracks are all good songs and they are pre-recordings so they’re all slightly different and a bit more naïve and less processed. They’re still just really nice to listen to.
DAVID: You can hear what Eli [Janney, the album’s producer] did in the studio. You can hear the difference between the tracks beforehand and after. I think it’s actually quite interesting. There’s a better version of PORCHLIGHT than the single version. It’s not like we’re fleecing anybody really, because you can buy the CD on the website for three quid so, you don’t have to buy the album again – you’re not getting conned. That was really important to us. The main thing with us is awareness; public awareness – people don’t really know about us, even in the industry. We’ve been around for five years now.
CAROLINE: We’re in a strange position, well a great position, because we’ve got Infectious backing us, so that’s great, but it makes you aware that they’re not going to do it if we don’t sell the records. So all of a sudden there’s “market blah blah blah”. We’ve tried to do it in a way that isn’t about marketing – it’s about actually showing a good selection of songs.
Did you always want a female voice in the band. Was that the plan or did it just happen?
DAVID: When I first put an ad out for the band, yeah I always wanted to have a female in it. I never wanted to be in an all male group… I don’t know why. All my favourite bands have females in them. It’s just nice, you get a different input, otherwise I think if you had a male drummer there’d be too much testosterone rock. This makes it more interesting.
CAROLINE: It’s hard to sing when you are drumming, so I think the backing vocals that I’ve done have been generally when there’s loads of space – so it’s completely different.
And what music are you listening to at the moment?
CAROLINE: The last thing I’ve been listening to, recommended by Kev, is Fugazi’s new album, because it’s not as harsh as their other stuff, which I didn’t really like. What else? Really early blues and Rock of Travolta who are playing tonight, I love their CD.
DAVID: I’ve been listening to Woody Guthrie recently – brilliant – and the New Rival Schools album, I really like the guitars in it, it’s got some nice textures. And the Fugazi album – one of the best albums of last year, it’s amazing.
CAROLINE: I’ll tell you who I heard the other day: an amazing woman called Roberta Flack. Her voice is just fucking stunning and it’s sort of weird because so many of her songs have been re-done, like KILLING ME SOFTLY but when I heard her whole album with all her hits I was like, “she’s amazing!” and I’d never heard of her!
You were talking about favourite bands with a female in them, which particular favourite bands do you mean?
DAVID: Well the obvious ones like The Pixies, the B52’s, Sonic Youth – I say that reluctantly because I know that everyone compares us to them. But Sonic Youth are definitely a big influence and The Pixies in the sense that they weren’t just a couple of extra females in the band, hidden in the background, both were really strong song writers, which is what we’ve got in our band. Everything The Pixies could do: amazing talent, amazing singing, an amazing bass player, she played the simplest bass lines but….
Who have you most liked playing with?
CAROLINE: I really loved playing with an Irish band called Turn just because their songs are great and every night you can just sing along. They’re really lovely people. Idlewild are great, and Jimmy Eat World are the nicest band in rock! [laughs]
DAVID: Ahh they’re too nice! They’re so nice to us…we love them!
CAROLINE: Ash are friendly as well… Er, we went on tour with The Fall and I don’t think we’ll be keeping in touch with them, but all the other bands we’ve been quite happy to go and see and chat to.
Are you playing any festivals this year?
DAVID: We hope so yeah, think we’re doing Glastonbury and T in the Park and V2002.
Pretty pricey though, tickets for Glastonbury are about £100….
DAVID: Yeah but it could be the last one…
CAROLINE: They say that every year though, I went to the very last one three years ago! [laughter]
What kind of audience to do you think you attract?
DAVID: Hmm, that’s our problem.
CAROLINE: Well here’s an example, last night we played in Chelmsford and there was a bunch of builders in the audience that listen to XFM who looked quite funny, all about 40, in their lumberjack shirts.
DAVID: Did they enjoy it?
CAROLINE: Yeah, they loved it apparently [laughter] Then there were girls asking us to sign Barbie dolls, then there were a couple of lonely middle-aged men and then there were very normal looking people. A real mix. What we don’t have in our audience is, you know the nu-metal thing? They don’t like us! Because we are quite heavy in some places but also amazingly soft and quiet and I don’t think they can quite handle that [shouts, mimicking] “they’ve stopped drumming! I don’t know what to do!” [laughter]
Yeah you have got a split kind of style, very heavy angry stuff at times and then some mellow ballads – it works well
DAVID: Yeah I think we are trying to make the albums flow together, WHEN DO WE START FIGHTING… is definitely much more of an album. It could definitely have done with a couple more upbeat numbers on it though. I think that would have made the world of difference to how people perceived it.
Is that what you are angling at for the next album then?
DAVID: When we did the album we wanted to do the idea of upbeat rock, but with our frame of mind at the time, it didn’t turn out that way, so we only actually had a couple of rock songs on it. We’re just learning our trade really. The way we’re writing at the moment, it’s gonna be pretty much guitars all the way through and then we’ll just do a couple of special, quiet ones to make them stand out.
CAROLINE: Also one of the reasons I like being in Seafood is that I wouldn’t like to play a whole set every night that was all really fast, pop rock songs and that’s why I like those quiet moments of the set where you can really enjoy your own music, because I think that’s important. We can’t bore ourselves with coming up with the same stuff.
DAVID: We really want to prove ourselves live, we’ve never been the tightest band live; we’re quite lazy when it comes to rehearsals. For this tour we’ve rehearsed loads though. Last night was complete chaos [laughs] but hopefully by the end of this tour we’ll be quite a force to be reckoned with. We rock live… I think we blow most other bands away. But we’ve been a support band for a long time…