Thursday, September 27, 2007

Interviews:: Alex Church of Sea Wolf

We had the chance to sit down and chat - via cell of course - with Alex Church from the great Sea Wolf. Enjoy!

HH:: Hey Alex. How's it going today?
AC:: Not bad.
HH:: That's good. Hopefully you don't have too many of these things today?
AC:: Only four. But one person never called, so it's not bad at all.

HH:: That's good. I hate when we are talking to someone after like 3 hours straight of phoners. We aren't creative enough to ask new questions. But, to start out with a stalking question, I noticed you are calling from a 514 number. What are you doing in Montreal?
AC:: Actually my girlfriend is here, so I just moved up. So I'm going to split time between here and LA. When I need to be with the band, I'll be in LA, but the rest of the time I'll be up here. It's pretty weird, like I don't really know anyone.

HH:: Oh wow. That's a big change, but Montreal is such a beautiful city. Do you speak French at all?
AC:: Not really. It's extremely beginner, but I lived in France for a year when I was younger, so it's kind of coming back to me which is good.

HH:: Well, to be honest, only about 5% of Canadians actually speak French, so you should be okay. But let's start with an obvious one. It's been a busy year for you… a great EP and now the full length, SXSW and countless other shows. All of which is getting lots of positive attention. Has the success of Sea wolf sunk in?
AC:: Yeah. I guess. I should say it's starting to. It really takes a lot getting used to. I quit my job, well not really quit. I worked freelance at a museum so I just never went back and just started doing music. It's the first time ever really and I am super busy. It's actually hard to find time to sit down and write. Finding the at time is difficult, so maybe I should say I'm adjusting. It's a time of adjustment.

HH:: Well, it's got to be nice to just concentrate on music. I guess it's nice since most solo projects aren't really received so quickly. It was crazy - when you played here in Vancouver, people were lined up at the front singing along to songs you hadn't even released yet like Middle Distance Runner.
AC:: Yeah, that was bizarre. I think that has to do with the internet.

HH:: That's what I was going to ask you. The blog community really embraced your music. Did you have any idea about the blog scene before you started getting the attention?
AC:: Actually yeah. I'm friends with the guys in Voxtrot. And they had a lot of success through the blogs and they told me about it. It completely makes sense tough. It's a group of music fans that have made things so much better. It's evolved into something bigger insteaqd of a record company buying ad space and trying to manufacture the hype. It's cool that music fans can find what they like, and bands have a way to find fans. Especially for people who love music in small towns that might not have an indie record store, or an indie scene. But for me, a couple of blogs contacted me. .so maybe two summers ago, and I gave them a few songs. Why not. Some free songs got people talking and it's really paying off. Sea Wolf wouldn't be what it is without that support.

I know it's tough - you don't like seeing people trading your full record. I mean, if you give it all away, I wouldn';t be able to keep playing music. But in the end, I'd rather people hear my music than not. I'm not trying to sell 1,000,000 records. I just want to make enough to keep doing this.

HH:: That's the only attitude that will keep you going. So when you first started this, it was kind of a bedroom project - and even on the new record some of the songs still fit into that mold - like Black Leaf Falls . Now you have a fairly big touring band and big arrangements. Has the way you write songs for "Sea wolf" changed at all, or is it still something that is pretty independent?
AC:: I don't think it's changed. Well maybe from the very beginning, but I always wanted this to be a band and have a big sound. That the type of music I love. Sure I like thoe quiet song, the acoustic driven ones, but I always wanted a big group. Even when I started I had 4 or 5 people with me on stage.

HH:: That bring up an interesting question. I know for at least some of the EP and full length you had a different cast of musicians working with you than you did on tour. Is it hard to try to transform the sounds of the recorded work to the live stage? Or do you like the subtle differences?
AC:: I like the subtle differences. I mean, the musicians I play with a very tasteful and very good. But I wouldn't want them to translate too directly, as I think it would lose something. In reality, different musicians have different hands and different personalities. I like to see them take the parts they didn't write and make them their own. It makes the songs more dymanic. Plus, I don't think the changes are that different. They are subtle, like most people wouldn't really notice.

HH:: What I found was the sound here in Vancouver was so much bigger. Not volume wise, I mean the fullness. It sounded excellent.
AC:: Oh, well thanks.

HH:: You are part of a great label. Dangerbird seems to not only support the hell out of their bands and sends you out on tour with other successful acts. Maybe you could talk about your relationship with Dangerbird?
AC:: The relationship is great.. When I first signed with them, I wasn't actually even sure if I would. There were a few other people interested, but they were so gung ho and passionate about it. I really go the sense they would work hard for Sea Wolf. You could tell they wanted Sea Wolf to do as well as they could, and the result has been above and beyond. They are amazing. I mean they are a small independent label and I have a relationship with people and like the people a lot. Add they have the smarts and the money to do what they need to get done. It's great.

HH:: Every band on the label has said the exact same thing, which makes me wonder how things are going to change for you. I mean, you are part of a unique group there in LA. You have a group of artists - SSPU, you, Patrick Park - the whole Shipp collective - pushing you forward. How do you find the music community in LA and does having a music family within a scene help motivate you and keep you going?
AC:: I guess the big thing is those guys are my friends. So it's great ot have friends motivating you and psuhing themselves. It inspires you. Plus havin gthose guys as a support network. Without them, I couldn't have got started. Patrick played with me. Joe from SSPU played with me. Great Northern played with me. In the end, those people are my pals and it was great way to showcase Sea Wolf songs. They allowed me to build Sea Wolf into what it is in LA today.
The great thing is we all sound different, and come from different palce but we are all the same. We want to be great musicians. Plus it's fun to see your friends do well. Like in this interview, I'm talking about my friends bands. We all do that and it's helped us all become bigger and better.

HH:: Are you nervous at all about going to Montreal and leaving that?
AC:: No. I mean I'm not really leaving. I don't have both my feet out the door. The band, my manager, my friends all live there. I still have my place there. Thankfully, with the success of Sea Wolf I can go back and forth and that will hopefully give me a different perspective. I've grown up traveling, so I'm excited. Hopefully Montreal is inspiring. But to be honest, I'll never give up my friends in LA.

HH:: You've been playing with some great bands lately - I know you are heading out with Nada Surf soon - But if you could share the stage with one band, who would it be?
AC:: That's a weird question. DO I say bands I love, or bands that would mix well. Like I'd love to say, Willie Nelson. Or The White stripes, but they wou;ldn't mix well. Maybe Wilco or the Decemberists? I'd say the Arcade Fire because they are amazing, maybe too amazing for me to be up there too. Oh, or Neil Young.

HH:: He's a Canadian Icon. Seeing you play with him or Willie Nelson would be amazing.
AC:: We got asked to play with Peggy Young for a few shows in the Bay area. But we were already busy. Too bad, because he came out and played, and I was like - "I want to meet Neil Young!"

HH:: Okay. This might be a hard one to answer on the fly, but we like to try to talk about things other than music that influence musicians we like. What inspire you to write your music?
AC:: Definitely books and films. I love books and films, but I would say that working at the museum let me see a lot of great art. But ultimately, it's other musicians that really inspire me. But I get a lot of subject matter from stories - whether it is books or films.

HH:: Excellent… well thanks for talking with us today. Good luck with the move and the tour.
AC:: Thanks. Bye.

MP3:: I Made a Resolution- Live on Daytrotter

Posted at 5:06 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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