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20 Questions: Seazoo

Proving that guitar music can still burst with excitement and imagination are Seazoo. Creative, infectious and playful, Seazoo’s bittersweet yet life affirming melodies are delivered with a wry eye over sparky guitar pop music that calls to mind the twinkling quirk pop of early Grandaddy, the dynamics of Pavement, the knack for idiosyncratic narratives that characterised early Super Furry Animals.

After a run of releases since 2013, the Wrexham outfit just released their DIY debut album TRUNKS its bustling with cracking tunes(such as ‘Dig,’ ‘Roy’s World,’ ‘Shoreline’) and unique subject matter inspired by dreams that slip into life and colourful sketches of the everyday. To celebrate Seazoo front man Ben has kindly fielded our twenty questions, enjoy.

Hi, how are you today and what’s the weather like?

Grey, cold and wet. But we’re really good, thanks! The album came out yesterday and the heating’s on! 

Where did the name Seazoo come from?

Literally from the Anglesey Sea Zoo, a place myself and Llinos have visited many times! We recommend! 

Tell us about your debut album and how did you decide the tracklist, when you have an arsenal of songs?

It started as a group of 18/20 songs a few years ago, we recorded all the drums with the intention of finishing them all off at home and picking the best ones for the album. However, Too Pure asked us to release a 7” (extremely honoured and an exciting time!), so we nicked a couple of tunes from the stockpile. Because this was received really well online and was played on radio quite a bit, we wanted to release something quickly to follow-up , so we nicked some more songs and released the EP JUMBO. 

SO the tunes on TRUNKS are what’s left from the original list.

 

How do most of your songs start life? A lyric? A chord? Or melody?

I guess it’s pretty similar every time. I actually wrote a tune yesterday, the day the album came out, and can explain the process in detail!

I look directly into the sun for twenty seconds and pick up the guitar. I start playing, and get a bunch of chords I like, usually get a verse and chorus together and start singing/humming and get some melodies. I look back up at the sun. 

I open up garage band and get the idea down before I forget. I’m now happy and can relax! 

I then think about the arrangement and maybe a middle bit and get ready to record another version quickly in garage band.  At this point I can hear what some of the other instruments are doing, so I’d either tap out the drum part on the table, or get the guitar and write the lead. 

The next step is to make a final demo with instruments plugged in etc, so need to wait until I can get into a rehearsal room, or set up drums etc at home. 

Usually the melody is just hummed, and the lyrics arrive later, but yesterday it all came at once, which was ace! The whole process took around an hour. It’s not always that swift, but the initial bones of the song are always sketched in the first twenty minutes or so. 

You have released a series of singles since 2013, did you want to make sure your debut album was how you imagined it rather than rushing it out?

Not really. In an ideal world we’d have released an album a few years ago as the songs have always been there, but actually, because I record and do most things myself, I guess it scared me – there’s a lot of work involved! Recording singles and EPs was appealing as it was a more manageable way of working. 

And also, we’re actually really lucky as everything we’ve done has made it’s way onto radio, especially the BBC, so the process of regular releases felt good. 

https://seazoo.bandcamp.com/album/dog-hotel

What subjects inspire your songs?

The songs I’m most happy with are inspired by real life events or observations, the ones containing small grains of things I recognise. 

There’s a great balance between melody and the music on each your tracks is it important for you to hook the listener in?

I’m not really thinking about that when I write, I just write what I write I guess.

I love the challenge of writing short pop songs as there’s a strict template to follow. I like limitations, it’s easier to work like that. I have limitations in my own musical understanding and technical ability, and also the equipment that I have. I like it like that. Seems like a quicker way of working for me. 

What’s your favourite book?

In uni I was really busy with work and music and there was a lot of reading to do, so I was always drawn to novellas, poetry and theatrical works. Basically texts that could be read really quickly. I loved Kafka’s short stories, and I always come back to The Metamorphoses. 

What were you like at school?

Ok I guess. Mid-level student, well behaved. Joined a band with friends at 13 and that has shaped what I’ve done my entire life. I literally can’t stop writing and playing music.  

What are your favourite albums by Welsh artists?

SFA – MWNG, Radiator. Gorkys – Spanish Dance Troupe, Barafundle.  Cate Le Bon — Mug Museum

Best gig you’ve played so far?

We toured with The Lovely Eggs late last year, and played some amazing places. Maybe the best was Gorilla in Manchester, one of the biggest gigs we’ve played so far! Oh, and the Tramshed gig with Peace and Idles for Swn was HUGE! 

What’s your favourite TV show?

We haven’t got a TV, so don’t really watch lots of TV shows. Anything by Reeves and Mortimer I guess. Oh, actually, I got obsessed with a series on Channel 4 called Flowers with Olivia Coleman and Julian Barratt ,that was ACE! Oh, and Toast of London! And I absolutely LOVE Time Team with Tony Robinson! And any of those SAS selection shows, especially the ones with Eddie Stone and John Mcaleese.  I love TV!

What do you listen to in your tour van?

When we’re approaching the venue we always put on Jan Terri’s ‘Losing You’ – gets us in the mood!

What were your favourite artists growing up?

Early teens: Hendrix, Zeppelin, Velvet Underground, Free, Beatles

Late teens: Gorky’s, SFA, Pavement, Grandaddy, Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, Kinks, Bowie

Who would you want to play you in the film of your life?

Mathew Noszka

What’s the best cover version you have ever heard? 

I love Bowie’s version of White Light/White Heat.

What are your favourite new acts?

Mr Ben and the Bens. 

You have just been announced for Focus Wales do you have any more festival appearances booked?

I don’t think so. We’ve applied to all the usual ones that we love attending anyway, but I guess without a booking agent the chances are small. Surely we would have heard by now, eh Green Man??!!

Do you have any more singles planned?

Not really from this album. There’s a possibility of writing a one-off welsh single to coincide with our Focus Wales appearance  – but I guess that depends on time! We’re also recording the second album in May, and the idea is to start promoting that with a single end of the year!

Any hopes for 2018?

Finish the second album swiftly and get a single out. I reckon if I sell some equipment and save enough then we can release it on vinyl! It’s the dream! 

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.