Based on the “heavy rotation” section on Rdio, you guys like Alex’s new album, “Old World Romance,” as much as I do.
I say “Alex” like my new best friend because I was able to chat with the man himself for about a half hour right before Christmas, about a bunch of things. Like: his stellar new album, his upcoming show in Denver, how much I love the cover design, and the fact that Alex doesn’t really care for social media.
Ummm, huh? … I know.
But keep reading anyway. I really liked the guy, and think you will too.
I know that Sea Wolf is your baby, coming out of your former band Irving – how did you approach forming your new band?
When I was with Irving it was more of a democracy and I found myself writing songs that the other guys might like. So I started writing songs that *I* liked. At first I named the group Sea Wolf and intended it to be a band… but I only knew friends in other bands so I just started doing shows with those friends and eventually the Sea Wolf project evolved.
And now you are a front man with rotating support. Does that make it easier or more difficult to keep a band together?
It is definitely difficult to keep the band together but in some ways the decisions are faster because it’s just me. When recording the first record, it was mostly me. Second record had more of Ted and Lisa and Joey (Sea Wolf members listed here) playing on it, and had more of their ideas on the record. The third record is mostly me again where I directed what I wanted – and they certainly contributed – but I had definite ideas about how I wanted the album to sound.
How does the new album compare to the previous two?
The new album sounds more polished. I feel like that is in part because I’m getting better as a producer and my skills are getting better. For the second album, the producer’s style is all the way through it. He’s very talented but he also played a lot of the album – he has a very “live” sound to him. I am more deliberate and I tend to tinker. Which is partly why the third album has such a different sound.
And Sea Wolf comes from the Jack London book? Was it a favorite book, or other special meaning?
Yes, the Jack London book. I’m from the Bay area and he is from there too. I am from an outdoorsy, nature loving family. We were always hiking, river rafting, fishing. No TV and I read a lot. All his books are outdoor adventure stories and I just identified with him because of my upbringing. I had read Sea-Wolf around that time and the title just stuck.
You traveled a lot as a child, has that influenced your songwriting?
Yes, we traveled a lot. As an only child, I spent a lot of time by myself and with my imagination and I drew on that. And when I traveled with my parents, I didn’t have a sibling to play with – so I paid attention to my surroundings and a lot of that imagery shows up in my songwriting.
I know you are a big fan of the Beatles, who else do you love?
Yeah, the Beatles and who else… It changes a lot. In the 90’s I was much more into indie rock like Modest Mouse and Pavement. I’ll say The National and Sufjan Stevens now. But I try not to hold on to anything too tightly because it’s hard to write when you have someone else’s song stuck in your head.
What are your concerts like?
We will definitely have a full band and the guys that are with me are really talented, they are better players than I am and it takes the pressure off. We like to put on energetic show. We were in Denver just a few months ago, and are excited to come back in January. The show will be different in the new year, too.
Do you prefer recording or touring?
I find touring to be more fun because the hard work is over – although it does take a while to get ready for a tour. But then when you’re clicking, and you like who you’re traveling with, the social aspect of the tour is very fun. Recording can be very tedious.
What about social media? Yes or no?
It’s not that I don’t like it, I just don’t spend time on the computer so I really haven’t gotten into it.
Note from Aimee: This is where we actually had an interesting conversation about the future of social media and talked about all ranges of social media from Instagram to Facebook and MySpace. Alex said his favorite was Instagram and it was right during the terms of service mess. It was interesting to hear his perspective!
As a graphic designer who works with bands, gotta tell you I love the album cover. How involved are you with that aspect of the work?
I’m very involved with it as I’m a visual person. The first album was a collaboration with James Sterling Pitt in San Francisco and they were drawings that he owned and then he expanded on. The second was Charlie Roberts – he’s an artist from Norway and I found him in a gallery and he ended up creating the album cover for me. It’s more of a gallery of images that kind of represents the album. For the third, I knew I wanted a nature photograph – but not like a poster. I found a photographer named Corey Arnold, he’s actually a commercial fisherman, and that photo just jumped out at me.
Any favorite songs from Old World Romance?
Kasper probably. There’s something about every song that I really love or wouldn’t make it to the album. But Kasper was recorded very quickly and represents a new freedom for me.
Note from Aimee: This is where I told him my favorites are Old Friend, Kasper, Priscilla, and Dear Fellow Traveler. He chuckled and said a lot of people have been saying Dear Fellow Traveler, which is a song he likes, but never suspected it would become a fan favorite, which proves you just never know.
I can’t wait to see Sea Wolf at the Marquee Theater in Denver on January 23rd. Be sure to pick up your tickets now and join us.
with South of France
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 23rd
2009 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80205