The Sea are set to return later this month with their fantastic album Rooftops, which sees them bring a whole new sound to their music.
I caught up with Peter to discuss the new record, the new sound, as well as what lies ahead for the rest of the year.
- You are about to release your new album Rooftops so what can fans of The Sea expect from this latest record?
It’s a little bit different to the first record as the first record we made very much a rock and roll record but with this new one it was influenced by different things, mainly our move to London but also me falling in love with a girl who lives in London.
We decided that we wanted to make the tracks sound fuller and bigger so there are strings and horns on there it’s a really colourful album.
- This album comes three years after Get It Back so how have you seen yourself develop as musicians/songwriters in that time?
Like I say the new album’s influences are very different to the first album. But in those three years we have been touring so much all over the world, which has been amazing, but when you play that much you do become better musicians.
Our influences have been broadened and out horizons have been broadened by the people that we have met all round the world and the different experiences we have had. We are more ambitious these days because of those experiences.
- You have talked about broadening the sound of the album and there are a whole host of sounds on this record from the upbeat vibe of New York to a more bluesy sound on Rooftops of London so how would you describe the sound of this album?
I get asked that all the time and I would say that it’s pop rock, that is a pretty lame thing to say but that is what it is. It’s quite a happy record I think.
- It’s a very different sound for you so was it a natural progression for you and is it a sound that you have grown very comfortable with?
With the first album it was one of those albums that you write and play live and then you record it but with this new album it was the complete opposite of that as we were writing in the studio; all of the songs on the record we never really played live before we made the record.
With New York we were in the studio and I was like ’god I could can hear some horns on this’ and we were like ’yeah lets put it down lets put it down’. And it was the same with Emily’s Waltz at the end I was like ’I want it to sound massive at the end there so lets put on some strings and lets go for it.
But when we finished the album we looked at one another and were like ’how are we going to play this?’ (Laughs) but we have managed to get around that.
- Have you been playing the new tracks live and if so how have they been going down with the fans?
Really well. We have never felt so excited about the band in general and that has been galvanised by the gigs that we have been playing this year and we have been getting such great reactions; especially on the keyboard tracks like Silly Love Song, Need Breath Dream and Listen Darling.
We were most nervous about those tracks than any of the others because they are such a departure from the rock stuff but I would say that they are the most popular tracks that we play live now - so that is quite an eye opener. But we are having such a good time at the moment.
- The first track off the album New York has gone down really well, it is my favourite song on the album, so how excited are you at getting the rest of the tracks out there?
Oh yeah absolutely. New York was a really good starting point I think as it eases people in; there are still some really big guitars there but you think ‘ok they are going a bit more poppy with the horns’.
The next single is going to be more rock, we will probably do Shake Shake but I am not sure yet. I am just super excited for everyone to hear what we have been doing.
I understand that some people that liked us before might go ‘oh well I didn’t expect this’ but I don’t think that I could be the musician that makes the same album twice as I always want to do something different and keep moving; I think we have certainly shown that with this album.
- The album is produced by John Cornfield who has produced the likes of Supergrass and Muse so how did that collaboration come about?
John is a really good friend of ours, well he is now, he is from Cornwall as are we so we sort of knew him, everyone knows everyone in Cornwall you see (laughs).
So he was sort of like this local legend and we just somehow got involved with him and started going for a few beers with him and he is just a really down to earth guy - if you met him in the pub you would have no idea that he is this multi-million record selling producer. He is such a talented man and he is a pleasure to work with.
- And what did his experience bring to the record?
The best thing about working with John and his experience is he knows how to get the best of a band and he sees very early on the vision an artist has, certainly as far as we were concerned; I would say something cryptic to John like ’I want this to sound massive like a big can of bees’ and he would be like ’yeah I know exactly what you mean’.
He would also help you create sounds, I said to him once ’I want my voice to sound like it’s underwater’; we didn’t actually use it in the end but he was able to do it.
He is very good at getting the best out of you in your takes - we would run through a track like Shake Shake and we would come out of the studio and go into the control room and we would be both like ’yeah that felt good’ and he would look at us and say ’well if you want you album to sound like that then that’s fine’ and we would be like ’well I suppose we better go back in then’ and he’d be like ’yeah I think you better had’.
He worked you really really hard but he always gets the best results from you.
- You recorded at Sawmills Studios, which has a great musical history, so how did you find your time there?
It was like a dream. You can only get to it by boat so you can only get to it at high time; it’s on a little in-let on a river in the middle of Cornwall. It’s just a phenomenal place - your mobile phone doesn’t work there so you can’t get any calls, it’s in the middle of this woodland and it is just beautiful.
It’s great recording in London but there are just so many distractions there and other people there - here people had to book their time to come and see you according to the tides; we were completely cut off and it was wonderful.
We were there for over a month and we just lived there, they have like a chef that comes in and cooks you dinner.
We just did not want to leave, in fact we were a bit naughty because we told our people that we would be done in a month but three days before our time was up we rung them and were like ‘we are going to need another week’ (laughs) we just didn’t want to leave.
- You and Alex are brothers so where did you love of music start? And when did you really decide to take that next step into making it a career?
Our dad has always been an avid Beatles fan and we had both been exposed to the Beatles and to the Rolling Stones and those great sixties/seventies bands.
There has always been a guitar around the house and I would fiddle with that. Alex will tell you that one day he woke up and decided that he wanted to be a drummer; I guess that’s true as that is what he has always said. So that is how we got into it in the first place and we would just jam.
Alex and myself have always been competitive and when he started playing the drums I was like well I will definitely have start playing the guitar because I can’t have him having one up on me. We joined up a little school band but that fell apart.
But then we started playing these news songs in our parent’s garage so it all sort of happened by accident, we never really intend for The Sea to be a successful band at all we were just having some fun.
One of our friends came to listen to us rehearse and said ’I really like this do you want to play at my birthday party last week?’ And we were like ‘yeah ok’, we didn’t have a name or anything we were just Peter & Alex.
All our friends came up to us were like ‘that was really good you should keep doing this’ and the guy whose birthday part it was was James Morrison. Within six months of finding a name The Sea we had a record deal.
- You are travelling all over the world and playing all these gigs so what is it like to be experiencing all that with your brother?
I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else. We don’t really argue, we have moments, apart from being my brother and my work colleague he is also my best friend - I hope he would say the same.
It’s a privilege to walk on stage with him every night - there is nothing better than going over the Brooklyn Bridge at midnight looking at each other and going ‘can you believe that we are doing this?’ It’s quite a good feeling to say the least.
- And you are playing some dates throughout May so what can someone who hasn't seen you live expect from a show?
Basically it’s just two guys who are intensely locked into what they are doing. The set is rock and roll and then it goes down into the quieter pop stuff and then back up - you will always be surprised as we turn a lot of corners.
It’s a lot of energy and we are always exhausted when we come off stage. We love doing it.
- Finally what's coming up for you?
As you said we are going out on tour and the album is coming out so that is exciting. Over the summer we have a couple of really big tours with various bigger acts so that’s cool and we are looking forward to that. In the autumn we are going to tour America and then back to Europe to do a massive tour there.
We have been discussing recording a third album over Christmas, because it is already written; the last six weeks I have written the album. I would like to get the next album out by next March and just keep going and doing this and enjoying it.
I have to be honest this is one of the best jobs in the world and we are having so much fun and a fantastic time. We are like two kids in a sweet shop every single day because we are so excited, it’s brilliant.
The Sea - Rooftops is released 7th May
Click to buy: The Sea Rooftops CD
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw