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The Sea And Cake

Interview von: Matthias Rauch mit Sam Prekop, am: 25.02.2003 ]

Nicht viele Bands können von sich behaupten, nach acht Jahren und sechs Alben in unveränderter Besetzung immer noch derart intelligente und vielschichtige Popmusik zu machen wie The Sea And Cake um Mastermind Sam Prekop. Auch auf ihrem gelungenen letzten Album "One Bedroom" zeigt sich die enge Verbindung zu ihrem Label Thrill Jockey und ihrer Heimatstadt Chicago, die wie kaum eine andere Stadt des amerikanischen Midwest eine derart vielseitige und lebhafte Musiklandschaft zu bieten hat. The Sea And Cake sind mittlerweile seit einigen Jahren ein fester Bestandteil dieses musikalischen Mikrokosmoses, was sie mit ihren hervorragenden Alben immer wieder aufs Neue unterstreichen. Ich sprach mit Sam über Chicago, Fotografieren und was David Bowie eigentlich mit dem Ganzen zu tun hat.


Musicscan: When did you guys meet and how did you first get in touch?

The Sea And Cake: Well let's see, Eric and I were in a band together called Shrimp Boat. I had met Archer while at art school in Kansas City and John we all met while recording the first record; he was an assistant engineer at the time. Eric and I were offered some money to come up with a new record after Shrimp Boat had disbanded, Archer had moved to Chicago from Kansas city with his band at the time The Coctails. The Coctails had played several shows with Shrimp Boat; this is how I became familiar with Archer's musical sensibilities, even though at the time he was primarily a drummer. I had heard a piece that he had played guitar on and it led me to believe that we could work together. At the time of the first recording the Shrimp Boat drummer and producer Brad Wood was to be playing on the record, it wasn't working out quite as we had hoped, and John was available and enthusiastic, we were quite excited from the start it felt like it was working out right away and soon after this recording we became a band proper.

Musicscan: What an influence does Chicago have on your music and your life in general? Have you always lived in the Chicago area?

The Sea And Cake: I've lived in Chicago since I was about five years old, so it is certainly my hometown. Since I've been here so long it's difficult to really pinpoint specifics of influence it's had on my life. I'm certain I would be a different person and therefore a different musician had I lived anywhere else for so long. I will say that Chicago seems to be quite conducive to making music, and it has a long and illustrative history of significant music being made here. I think this fact has helped musicians here feel part of an important continuum. Music is definitely an important part of the culture here and with it comes an audience that supports its music.

Musicscan: After 8 years of doing The Sea And Cake, do you have some sort of family feeling when you are working together with Erik, John and Archer? You must know each other so well by now that there probably aren't any big fights or arguments anymore.

The Sea And Cake: It's true I can't really remember a time when there has been any fighting or even arguing within the band. I think right at the beginning it was clear that we all got along really well. Making music with people should be a pleasant challenge and it's much more productive if you can work without too much friction. I'm not implying that it's easy, it's just easier if you get along with your band mates. I guess you could call it a very focused family if you like.

Musicscan: Does The Sea And Cake have a "project feeling" to you instead of being a "real" band, since all of you are so artistically active otherwise?

The Sea And Cake: I would say that we consider The Sea And Cake a real band, even though the workload or busyness sort of ebbs and flows. But really the writing recording and then touring cycle of work lasts longer than it might seem. But the fact that we have decided to make some time for other projects at this point has been quite beneficial for the band I think. I personally, definitely feel that I need my other creative outlets, painting especially, to keep my mind open to musical ideas. I guess I feel that if I worked solely on music it would suffer.

Musicscan: You do a lot of visual arts as well. Would you say that your music also contains a lot of visual aspects?

The Sea And Cake: I would say that lyrically there is a connection. I feel that the lyrics are more visual rather than narrative. I can't really claim this as always intentional, but it seems to feel the most natural and/or interesting way for me to work with words in combination with music.

Musicscan: Who are some of the artists that inspire you most?

The Sea And Cake: Lately I've been most interested in photography; I find the medium very mysterious in a good way. I've been looking at a lot of the acknowledged masters of the medium, Walker Evans, Eugene Atget, William Eggleston; these are some of my favorites.

Musicscan: What would you say is the biggest difference between "One Bedroom" and your earlier works? In what way do you think you have progressed and developed as musicians and as a band?

The Sea And Cake: I think we've gotten much better at realising and then executing very specific ideas. The path from thoughts to music feels quicker and more confident I'd say. But I also don't think we've yet recorded our best work. Honestly I'm rarely satisfied for very long, but this restlessness is very motivational.

Musicscan: You know how music often conveys a certain mood; how does the album feel like to you? Do you ever listen to it yourself?

The Sea And Cake: I listened to it a lot when we first finished it. I found that it took me sometime to get used to it, it felt odd in a good way. It's hard to explain, but I felt that this record in tone and feeling is much darker than our previous efforts, for this reason maybe richer. I will say that I haven't listened to it in quite some time. I like to preserve my initial feelings about it, because I'm sure they would be different now. I'm like this with all the records, rarely go back to them.

Musicscan: On your new record "One Bedroom" you included a cover of David Bowie's "Sound And Vision". Is there a special connection to David Bowie or do you just appreciate him as an artist? Why did you choose this particular song?

The Sea And Cake: It's a song we thought about doing something with for a long time. We just finally got around to it. I thought it would signify an interesting departure for this record. We initially intended to work on it for our live show, which never happened, but John really was the one who kept it in mind and really reinitiated the idea. I certainly appreciate a lot of David Bowie's work, but I don't think any of us are obsessive fan types, we just really love that song and felt that it related to our own work in a way that we could perhaps do some thing interesting with.

Musicscan: How is your relationship with Thrill Jockey? It seems like they are one of the very few labels that have consistently put out good music by a large variety of different artists? Could you imagine working with another label, especially a major label at this point?

The Sea And Cake: I can safely say that if it weren't for Thrill Jockey I doubt that The Sea And Cake would exist right now. The fact that we've been able to create a career out of playing music exactly how we want to is a direct result of Thrill Jockey's excellent work and commitment over the years. I guarantee had we gone the major label route, things would be much different for us and not better.

Musicscan: What can we expect from The Sea And Cake in the near future? Any touring, other projects...?

The Sea And Cake: We've been touring here and there and soon to be on tour all the time all over the place, we've also just finished a new EP that has four new songs and a couple of remixes, which I'm very excited about. We're actually planning to record another full-length record sooner than later. Probably start soon after our touring duties subside.

Musicscan: 3 favorite records, books and movies?

The Sea And Cake: Here are three records that I've been into lately: Eliane Radigue "Geelriandre - Arthesis", beautiful early seventies electronic compositions, academic style. Augustus Pablo "dub, reggae & roots from the melodica king. A wonderful survey with fascinating variety and great sound. Cecil Taylor, Bill Dixon and Tony Oxley "Live at the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville". A rare document of three absolute improvising masters at work together. I must admit that I haven't had the time to discover any new books of note or movies for that matter. However, I did really like "Adaptation ", the latest Spike Jonze film.

Musicscan: Any last words?

The Sea And Cake: No not really, except thank you.

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  Thrill Jockey Site