British Sea Power - Salty Water

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Making waves

Buzz band British Sea Power wages war on stinky clubs

Trees are strewn across the stage, hunting decoys dangle from the ceiling and the lead singer weaves references to Shakespeare and Charles Lindbergh into his lyrics. This is a typical show for British Sea Power, a band whose melancholy tinged music is starting to leave a mark outside of the band's Brighton, England, home.

Over the last two years, they've toured with Interpol, The Flaming Lips and Bright Eyes, all the while recording and releasing a slew of seven-inch singles for the revived Rough Trade record label (the original indie home of The Smiths and The Feelies). The singles have been put together into one nice big package that doubles as the band's debut LP, "The Decline of British Sea Power."

It's an album that grows on you with each listen, and it's as much New Wave-era black nail polish, asymmetrical haircuts and Cure tapestries as it is five lads from England making music as if they were stranded at sea and missed the last 20 years of pop culture. Maybe that's why they sound so good.

We caught up with the group's bassist, Hamilton (no one in the group uses a last name).

What's with the Lindbergh references?
He managed to do something that nobody else could do in a way that no one thought would be possible. He managed to fly across the Atlantic with nothing but a box of sandwiches and a compass. It's just an amazing story.

You've been on the road for more than a year now, so you must have developed some road habits.
Noble (lead guitar) really likes to have a lot of bananas on hand, Woody (drums) stays pretty quiet and reads a lot, Eamon (keyboards) likes booze and I stopped wearing shoes for some reason. It was never a problem until I went to go into Amoeba Records in Berkeley and the big fella at the door wouldn't let me in. We ended up playing there for an in-store, so he had no choice.

How did the foliage on stage start?
Most clubs are pretty stinky, so we thought if we had some fresh pine trees up there it would help out. And the idea was we could create our own little world up on stage. We sneak around service stations and go into the woods, find a nice [plant] and prune it a bit. Or sometimes we just come across them, like in San Francisco-- someone was chopping down palm trees by the hotel so we asked if we could have one.

What are your plans for getting trees into Chicago's concrete jungle this week?
There's something like four trees [in Chicago], right? So we best leave them alone. I guess we'll chop up the sidewalks and litter the rocks all around the stage. I guess that means I'll have to wear some shoes.

Author: Heather Shouse
Source: Metromix
Date: 3rd March 2004

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