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British Sea Power is branching out

If you happen to see a young man in a British Sea Scout uniform pruning the trees on Delancy St. tomorrow, he asks that you please not attack him, which is what happened the last time British Sea Power went looking for stage props in New York City.
Clipping public foliage might not seem like typical behavior for a band recently voted the best live act in Britain.

But British Sea Power - which plays the Bowery Ballroom tomorrow night - is a group defined by its quirky interests.

Chief among them is the group's obsession with curios taken from nature. The group always shares the stage with a coterie of plastic owls, herons and falcons, as well as leafy trimmings taken from the local surroundings.

"They're kind of symbols that we use in our lyrics that remind us of where we grew up and things that are important," says BSP singer Yan, who spent his youth in England's pastoral Lake District.

"They're also useful for defending yourself if the crowd turns nasty. And the foliage is good for hiding if there's a lot of them."

Idiosyncratic humor and esoteric references abound on the group's debut album, "The Decline of British Sea Power." A shaggy blend of Joy Division, the Pixes and Teardrop Explodes, the band synthesizes three decades of underground rock into a fervently regional sound that evokes the group's current adopted city of Brighton.

"We all live in this Victorian seaside town, and you can hear that in the music," Yan says.

"I have a theory that it has to do with the iodine in the water that gives you a dreamy, imaginative feeling."

The band has drawn on the historical quaintness of their environment to create an alternate universe where plastic birds and old scouting uniforms seem normal.

Those go hand in hand with claims that band members are "quick of foot and unafraid in their movements" when "placed upon the concert stage."

"People pick up on a sort of old-fashionedness," Yan says. "But I think that's us just trying to be timeless."


Author: Isaac Guzman
Source: New York Daily News
Date: 12th March 2004

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