Twelve Inch Talks to Sea Girls

Almost two years after we initially interviewed the indie collective known as Sea Girls, we caught up with them again to chat about a monumental moment in the group’s career – their debut album release, and the seemingly rapid rise they have experienced into acclamation and popularity.

The group have become icons among the indie scene, garnering support from huge industry names such as Annie Mac and the BBC. However, they rarely step back to take in how popular they’ve become. “I think because everything happened so gradually – every little step was at the right time. But you do get moments – like, we played Finsbury Park for Community and there was what, 20,000 people there. The Forum as well was a big one, the crowd was louder than the legal limit for sound when we walked onstage or something.”

‘Violet’ keeps cropping up on the band’s tracklists and they explain their love for the tune. “In the studio that was such a fun song, because it’s so fast and I don’t want to say silly but – all the crazy guitars and stuff that was such a fun thing, and we knew people were going to like this song. I remember me and Larry the producer, we just drank a load of beers and spent about four hours looping random stuff round – that’s such a great memory for me. I think Reading Festival was the first time we played it live, and it sort of had that energy straight away. It just came when everything started to get a bit more hectic – ‘Violet’ was right there in it.”

As you listen to the new album, you can’t help but wish you were gearing up to hear it live, and Oli explains that the band are just as excited to be getting ready for live shows again. “We’re playing Brixton in November and I’m obviously massively excited for that.” The group have become infamous for travelling into and through crowds, though of course, the role is usually taken by singer Henry. They weave these performances into the songs themselves – “Henry will consciously be like “I want to not play guitar on this song”, so he can run around and get in the crowd – like ‘Damage Done’. He said this feels like a song that I’d want to get in the crowd with, and you can’t really stop him,” Oli laughs. Noting that the album has a piano song, he muses “maybe I’ll get to play the piano if we do it live, and then I can stage dive from the piano or something.”

As well as piano features, the album is full to the brim of the indie-rock anthems that you’d expect from Sea Girls. Oli takes us through a few favourites, explaining, “‘Weight In Gold’ was a funny one – there were a few songs where we tried loads of different versions of it. The drums in the first version we had were really kind of Coldplay-y, and we thought, maybe not. So it was quite acoustic guitar and fun drum rhythms, but then it kind of slowly evolved with a Peter Gabriel kind of thing, and eventually we ended up bringing back these more crazy drums from the Coldplay version.”

“The album sort of spans our whole career. ‘Call Me Out’ was our first single, and then it’s got ‘All I Want To Hear You Say’ which for us was a really good turning point. There was never a moment where we started writing the album, we were just constantly writing these songs. Henry had quite a bad head injury maybe two years ago and that started a shift in his writing; it definitely affected his brain and the way he thought about things. So it has that loose concept of mental health but also universal love songs and things like that. Stuff that everyone goes through.”

This nostalgic exploration opens with ‘Transplant’; a track looking at “that moment where a relationship is just falling apart and you’re trying to keep it together and you realise that’s not going to happen.” “It’s quite specific with references in places, but it’s also so broad in that the lyric is your heart changed and mine stayed the same, and I think everyone who’s been through a breakup has felt like that at one time.”

“It opens the album as well because it’s just a big – it’s just a big kick in the face. Our producer described it as the most Sea Girls Sea Girls song. It’s kind of a bit like a mission statement, and we were talking about how we have to open the gigs with that because it’s such a kick the doors down and plant your flag idea.”

Tracks like ‘Forever’ have been in the works for a year and a half; “we did about three versions of that till we got to this one. We knew we had to get it right.” ‘You Over Anyone’ has had a similarly long journey, with the band labouring over each element before they released it. “Larry, our producer, had this old wonky piano he found for free and we were like, this is the one. So we did it on that, and that was the final version. It was a long journey through many many versions. We even went to studio just to record the piano and then didn’t end up using it.”

“‘Lie To Me’ went through a similar process, so many crazy changes. There was a day we spent hours doing a crazy instrumental section – it had this big Rihanna pop synth, crazy drums, we came in in the morning and Larry said, I’ve deleted that. You can listen to it but I don’t wanna hear that again, so it was like all right back to square one.”

‘Moving On’ closes the album on a hopeful note. “The idea is after this up and down of the album, you know, you go from lows like ‘Shake The Feeling’ which is about feeling alienated and alone and then you have ‘Violet’ which is quite a pure love song – you’ve got this roller coaster. And then to top it off you have this song which is exactly about moving on.” Looking back at the work as a whole is a bittersweet, triumphant moment. “I think we’ve been talking about making an album for years and years, and now to finally have something – like I have the vinyl now, which is amazing just to be able to hold it and say this is our album. We could have made an album at any point in the last five years but we waited till the right time and now we have this amazing collection of songs. I just want to release it and show it to people.”

For upcoming shows, fans can expect a mix of old and new tunes. “There’s a few songs we don’t really play very often and we always get them shouted at us. So I think we’re gonna have to get a good balance between new songs and old songs, but there’s definitely gonna loads of new songs. If you’re coming to the first show of the tour you’re going to see the first play of loads of Sea Girls songs, which is cool. And I think cause we’ve been away for so long it’s just going to be amazing. Obviously our shows are already quite crazy in terms of the audience but it’s going to be even more so after this long break.”

You can see the “chaotic Sea Girls throw-yourself-around-energy” for yourself at one of the bands’ upcoming live shows:

Headline Dates
Mon 2nd    GLASGOW, Barrowlands        
Thu 5th        BIRMINGHAM, O2 Institute         
Fri 6th        LONDON, O2 Academy Brixton
Sat 7th        MANCHESTER,  Academy 1     

Thur 12th    Action Records, Preston Blitz Club
Fri 13th        Crash Records, Leeds Wardrobe
Sat 14th    Bear Tree Records, Sheffield Foundary
Tues 17th    Assai Records, Dundee Fat Sounds
Wed 18th    Assai Records, Edinburgh Liquid Rooms
Fri 20th        Sound Knowledge, Marlborough
Sat 21st    Rough Trade, Nottingham Metronome
Sun 22nd    Rough Trade, Bristol Fleece
Tues 24th    Vinilo, Southampton Engine Rooms
Wed 25th    Resident, Brighton Chalk
Thur 26th    Banquet, Kinsgton (Banquet Pryzm)

Pre-Order the album HERE

Header Image Credit: Mathew Parri Thomas

1 thought on “Twelve Inch Talks to Sea Girls

  1. Nice job our SG friend , we appreciate your effort and post for all to read ! I love the Wonky Piano 😆
    It’s always fun to read what’s happening with SG & our SG friends
    Thank you


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