Like the protagonists of the Jack London novel, the LA-based folksters Sea Wolf, led by Alex Brown Church, returned home for the creation of the band's third full-length album Old World Romance (out September 11) after having been adrift for the previous release, 2009's White Water, White Bloom. We recently spoke with Church about the new album, the comforts of being back in California, and his upcoming show at The Constellation Room on July 12.
OC Weekly (Kathrin Tan): The new album is entitled Old World Romance. How did that title come about?
Alex Brown Church: There's actually a song called "Old World Romance" that didn't make it on the record. I had thought of that title before we decided to not have the song. I really liked the feeling that it gave me. I felt like the record is a little less traditional than previous records and I liked the contrast of the title with the song styles.
Do you move in an entirely different direction for this new album?
I wouldn't say in an entirely different direction, I would say a shift. Exploring, going down one path the last record opened up for me, but the record still feels like Sea Wolf. To me, it feels like a natural progression of Sea Wolf.
You were quoted on the Dangerbird Records site that during the recording of the new album you needed to "bring Sea Wolf back to me, to my world." Did you feel Sea Wolf was becoming something you did not expect?
No, it was something that I had chosen which was to have it be more inclusive of other people's opinions and voices. For the second record [White Water, White Bloom], I wrote most of the songs in Montreal while staying at my girlfriend's place so I didn't have the luxury of having all my equipment and my own space to demo the songs and hash them out myself. This time I was back home in my own space with my own gear, my own headspace. Because of that, I was able to spend a lot more time doing the instrumentation and parts myself, which is similar to how I created the first record [Leaves in the River].
Was there anything that influenced you during the making of the album?
I feel like being back in California, reconnecting with my old friends and family, who I had not seen on a regular basis for three years, all gave me inspiration for the new record. [It's] a sense of rediscovering where you're from after being away for awhile.
How would you describe the new album in a single sentence?
A romantic drive along the Pacific Coast Highway.
While only 17 seconds long, the time lapse video you posted looks like it took some time to create. How do you feel about documenting the recording process and sharing it via Facebook or Twitter?
It's something I don't like to do that much. I feel like if people see too much it takes away the romanticism and mystery. That [video] is one day. We actually had a camera set up in the studio for almost a year. I saw it as an interesting project [...] but I don't think people would be interested in seeing that every single day.
Back in November you released a 7" vinyl for Record Store Day's "Back to Black Friday" event. Did you re-record these songs for the release?
\No, those were the original recordings. One was a B-side from White Water, White Bloom, and [the other] was a song I recorded for an audio book by Augusten Burroughs. We wanted to do something for Record Store Day and they decided that those two songs would be good for it.
What made you come back to these particular songs?
They had been two songs which hadn't been out there in the world and we felt like this would be a good way to put them out.
You have two Southern California dates scheduled thus far. Will there be more shows added or a fall tour to be announced?
Yeah, we're solidifying all the venues and dates but it's probably going to be start in the first week of October as a full US tour with some Canada dates.
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For someone who might be still deciding whether to attend your show, what can they expect at the Constellation Room?
It'll have a big, full sound. For this show we'll actually have a cello, because the new record doesn't feature strings, so we're probably not going to have a cellist with us in the fall. These shows will be transitioning from "classic Sea Wolf" to "new Sea Wolf" [so] we'll be playing mostly older stuff. When we toured for the first record, people were always surprised because the shows were a lot louder and bigger sounding than the record.
Sea Wolf performs with Geographer at The Constellation Room, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd. Santa Ana, (714) 957-0600, on Thursday, July 12. Doors at 8:00 PM. $13.00. All ages.