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SXSW Spotlight: British Sea Power

The sun hasn't yet set on the British Empire. It's just that the grab for new subjects is taking a sneakier, more pleasant form, at least where the five Cumbrian lads of British Sea Power are concerned.

Cumbria is in the northwestern part of England, called the Lake District, near Manchester and Lancashire. Think Wuthering Heights, ancient stone circles, and druidic mysticism.

"All bands don't come from London," says Noble, BSP's painfully polite guitarist. "It's a place where poets like Wordsworth come from; it's a really pastoral place."

This alone should help distinguish the group from its peers, but they've decided to take their otherness to more fragrant levels.

"We started a club night [Club Sea Power] in Brighton," explains Noble. "We wanted to make it special, and we got the idea of filling the whole place with branches - it really smelled lovely in there."

Not long after, the stuffed birds joined the mise-en-scène, and a trademark (or gimmick) was born. Rough Trade kingpin Geoff Travis took in a gig at Sea in 2001 and presented the lads with a contract that very night. That's when another, more strange British invasion began, culminating in BSP's debut full-length, The Decline of British Sea Power, last fall. The group has since garnered comparisons to Joy Division, only with chunkier riffs and brighter faces.

"We wanted to make songs that are kind of human, sort of melancholy, and rockers - the whole scope in between," explains Noble. "We didn't want to be a band with one sound that stays the same every album."

One thing Noble claims won't be the same is BSP's behavior at SXSW 04.

"I think we'll be a bit more relaxed this time, instead of guitars and chairs being thrown around."

The British are coming - by land, this time - so get ready.


Author: Melanie Haupt
Source: The Austin Chronicle
Date: 19th March 2004

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