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Interview and review: Sea Girls on Homesick tour

Back in March, Sea Girls released their second album titled ‘Homesick’. Music reviewer Laura Mills managed to catch up with the band during this album tour to talk belonging, shitty breakups, gratitude and crispy duck.

Photos: Rebecca Wood

So, how are you feeling about tonight’s show in Sheffield?
Henry: Really excited about it. We played Sheffield on our last tour.
Oli: And we played the O2 Academy in November, and we cheated because we did an Arctic Monkeys cover.
Henry: Yeah, 505 and that was great. That was one of my favourite nights on the last tour.

Yeah, it was definitely a good one!
Henry: Did you go to it? I love Sheffield.

Yes, I did. So, I’d love to chat a bit more about your new album. Describe it in three words only.
Henry: Our new album. Sorry, is that not gunna help you much? Haha.
Oli: Late night bangers.

For me, I interpreted the album as kind of reminiscing on the things that made you. What was the main influence for  Homesick?
Henry: I guess it was just about being real and sort of encapsulating what makes us: experience, dealing with negative things. Song’s like ‘Sick’, it’s sort of identity, and our generation is sick in lots of ways.

I totally get that; I think there are a lot of things in the world to make you feel that way.
Henry: Just getting sick of stuff. It’s mainly about identity and belonging, that kind of attitude. Likewise, just belonging to a relationship. There was one relationship that broke down regarding my writing while we were making the album. There is a story and a thread through that, about one other person. And belonging to people of course; a sense of belonging.

So, do you think your approach to the second album was different to the first then?
Henry: Yeah definitely!
Oli: The album was written over five or six years so they were the best songs of that. ‘Homesick’ was written over a six to eight-month period so it’s more about one relationship than several.
Henry: Yeah, one relationship and one perspective on life at the time. That’s our perspective as the people we are.

Do you two have a favourite song on the album?
Henry- Right now I love ‘Lucky’.
Oli: It’s a good one to play live. I really like ‘Paracetamol Blues’ I think it’s really fun.
Henry: ‘Lucky’ is good because it’s one of those themes that’s not offered on the first album. It’s very self-aware and grateful. Whereas the first album, there isn’t any gratitude.

My favourite song on the album is ‘Someone’s Daughter Someone’s Son’. Could you tell me a bit more on what this one is about?
Henry: This was what I wrote about one relationship breakdown and sensed the end of the relationship. I was like imagine if we broke up it sorts of strips it back to you were a teen, and now your someone’s son, someone’s daughter and you’re separate. It encapsulates all these things all those stages from being dumped. I remember just being kind of f**ked up in a club on my own, and then just a mix of emotions throughout the song, I just imagined it.

Do you think your second album is stronger than your first?
Henry: I think our albums are always going to be amazing, they’ll just all offer something different.
Oli: We’ll always do our best.
Henry: It’s more focused. I think it’s better.

I think what you said about the time period spent on writing each album is right. They’re just different, I can’t believe that though six months! Is that really how long it took you to write it?
Henry: It was like six to eight months the writing, yeah.

Do you think you’ve found your sound now? From my perspective, you’ve always had that Sea Girls sound but do you guys think you have found it? Or is there still room to experiment further?
Henry: I think this record sounds bigger. Bit more powerful, bit more impactful. There are songs like ‘Cute Guys’ that we did venture into on the first album, it’s the kind of thing we’d jam but not put on an album.
Oli: I think if all of us are playing then we can’t help but sound like ourselves, even when exploring different things. Especially if Henry is singing, I’m playing the drums; we sound like Sea Girls.
Henry: Yeah, I think we always trust that will sound like Sea Girls. There’s always something itching to get out, we never find peace.

What’s your proudest Sea Girls song so far?
Oli: What a good question!
Henry: I think we’ve been proud of a lot of songs we’ve put out. ‘Call Me Out’ is a good one.
Oli: Yeah, cos that’s our first single to do that well.

That’s so true, one of your first ones and yet always gets the best reaction at the live shows.
Henry: I’m proud we’ve had that to start off with, that energy, it’s been quite a reference point since. With the new album, it’s not cool to talk about the label, but they were like “You sounded like a f**king college band” and now it’s “You sound like Muse” with ‘DNA’. We’re really proud to put a song out that sounds that good.

Would you compare yourselves to anyone?
Oli: I think we’re just staying true to ourselves. I’m not sure there’s a point I really want to reach and be like “I wanna be as big as them”. I mean we’re still at the point where it’s still growing, maybe in a few years on the way down I’ll be like “I wanna be like Sea Girls a few years ago”.
Henry: I like impactful performances; I recently just saw Arcade Fire open up Coco, and I wanna achieve that level of impact live. A weighty performance that feels important.

So, with your lyrics. For me, this is one of the biggest things that stands out about Sea Girls. Do you have a certain influence or approach to your lyrics?
Henry: For a lyric, I mean setting aside being truthful which we always try to do, take something from the heart. The way to make a lyric impactful is for it to carry two different levels of weight. For it to have two meanings, you want to question every lyric like “Does that have a deeper meaning?”. As well as making sure it sounds good, even if it’s not sexy, make it f**king sexy. Do you know what I mean?

Haha, yeah I get that!
Henry: Even if it’s not sexy, put it on something and make it evocative.

Do you ever write with live shows in mind?
Oli: I think naturally we do like live music so to an extent we do bear that in mind, but more we’re just like this bit is really cool etc.
Henry: If it makes you wanna rush, it’s gonna make people wanna rush when they hear it live.

Do you have a craziest tour memory?
Oli: The whole of the last tour was crazy because we’d be stuck inside for two years and then got to play this record.
Henry: When we played with Foals in Kyiv, that was pretty wild.
Oli: One for the grandkids!

Best show of all time so far?
Oli: We’ve actually just played Preston in this tiny little room and that was sick. Looking back, it probably looked rubbish, but the vibe was immaculate.

Do you like smaller venues?
Henry: I like the freedom to know you can play a bigger venue or a festival but smaller venues are just great cos you get all the fun.

I suppose from my perspective as a fan, it means we get closer to you as the artists. For you guys as the band you get closer to your fans.
Henry: We’ll never leave that behind I don’t think.
Oli: Yeah, we always hope to play smaller venues.

How has this tour been? And how does it compare to previous ones?
Henry: It’s been really wild for an album store tour.
Oli: Just playing the new album, it’s had such a good reaction. Doing these shows, seeing everybody knowing the words – it’s like the first time we’ve pretty much played most of these songs live!
Henry: Playing album two songs where everybody knows every word.
Oli: To ‘Someone’s Daughter Someone’s Son’ we had a big old mosh pit in Manchester.
Henry: I love singing that second verse of ‘Someone’s Daughter’ live. It’s good.

It’s so good!
Henry: “I’ve had to go dancing” – That’s fucking sick, that’s one of my favourite verses on the album.

I think the main thing I like about this track is that I’ve spoken to a lot of bands and they’ve tried a similar approach. Yet, they haven’t quite done it and you’ve absolutely achieved it in this track.
Henry: We spent a lot of time on that song and it came after a number of months.

What is a typical Sea Girls crowd?
Henry: Up for it; very up for it.
Oli: A slice of life, a cross-section of humanity.

Do you have a favourite live song to play of all time?
Oli: I really like playing ‘Sick’ at the moment.
Henry: I think it’s going to really endure that song.
Oli: Yeah, it almost turns into a bit of a rap.
Henry: That’s another energy that we’ve not really gotten out. We always want to give something new on an album and this was that on album two.
Oli: There’s a big sing along and everyone’s just offloading all the shit they’re sick of.

Do you have a pre-performance routine?
Henry: We normally just play loads of good music. Then five, ten minutes before we come on, we played Courteeners ‘Not Nineteen Forever’.
Oli: Probably eat too much.
Henry: I ate a whole sharing plate of crispy duck, like twenty quid’s worth before going on and then went on in Preston.

How did you feel when you went on?
Henry: Full, but I hadn’t eeaten a lot in the day. That was a risk though.

Are you focusing on any new material right now or just the tour?
Henry: We’re always playing around.
Oli: Yeah, we’ve been pretty busy recently but there are always ideas playing around. You can’t really stop it I don’t think.

Dream festival to play?
Oli: All of them.
Henry: We’ve had a few and managed to play all of them, but there is one this year though. We’re playing the midnight slot at Benicassim this year which we’re really excited for.

What do Sea Girls want to achieve by the end of 2022?
Henry: We’re gonna blow people’s minds with a massive tour in November. We’ll bring more than any other show. It’s gonna be the best time and everyone’s gonna have the best time.

Finally, anything to say to your fans who are reading this?
Oli: Stay true to yourself.
Henry: Yeah, stay true to yourself. Listen to ‘DNA’, stream ‘Homesick’, come see us in November and we’ll see you there.

 

I left the lads to get ready for the show and all I could think was “Jesus, Henry please stay off the duck.” 

 

Moving swiftly on; Sea Girls opened up their set at Foundry with – my favourite – ‘Someone’s Daughter Someone’s Son’. As soon as Henry tickled those chords moving closer to the mic singing “O / M / G / I can’t believe you picked me” his adoring crowd were right there singing along beside him.

That identity and sense of belonging he has longed for when making this second album were undoubtedly felt in that room. What a perfect choice to open the set with: not only did this track get the crowd singing but it also warmed them up to start bouncing.

Up next was the wholesome ‘Friends’. Henry stood centre stage strumming his guitar but his voice is lighting up the entire room and everyone in it. The intro is slow and stripped back but it gives everyone a moment to prepare for the big chorus.

Friends literally start to come together, arm in arm, waiting for Henry, and finally, he sings “So grab your friends / Whenever you can / They’ll fuck up your plans / Cos every second I’m not wasting / Is one you’ll never get back.”

Picture it: so many groups of friends being almost ignited by this song and these lyrics. The second the chorus finishes we’re launched into this scintillating raspy riff, nothing like I’ve heard before but I loved it.

I don’t like myself / But maybe you do” Come on Oli, ‘Paracetamol Blues’, let’s go!

This track started with Oli clapping and encouraging the crowd to join. He may be behind the drums but still loves connecting with those adoring Sea Girls fans. Throughout the entirety of this song the crowd literally belted their hearts out to every single line along with Henry.

For me, this was one of the best instrumentals of the night. It felt confident, it felt polished but it also felt kind of gritty and messy but the crowd knew exactly how to endorse that.

Henry had a message for his fans “I love shows like this, people that come to these are always the real shit. We’re the real shit, so let’s prove it.” Sending us into ‘Cute Guys’ to prove how committed we were, and god the crowd went absolutely nuts.

Beer flying and everyone in sight just bouncing around having the best time. I would also like to add how committed I am because I lost my phone for a solid few minutes during this track.

One of the best moments of the night was when they played ‘Sick’ released last year and number two on ‘Homesick’. As the lads described it, this one really does turn into a rap. Henry jumping around the stage; singing to a crowd that are just as sick of stuff as he is.

During the evening we got to hear the band’s latest release ‘DNA’, arguably one of their strongest yet, and this was reflected in the live performance too.

It’s essential to mention Henry’s commitment to the show; climbing up into the crowd every few songs to get closer to his doting crowd.

Sea Girls left the stage pretending it was all over, but we knew it wasn’t. “One more song, one more song, one more song” everyone in the audience was chanting, and back they came.

The band finished off their Sheffield set with ‘Call Me Out’. For one final hurrah, the crowd went crazy again. Bodies knocking all over singing this beautiful music unitedly.

Oh Sea Girls, I do love you.

 

 

 




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