Interview – The Seamonsters

The Seamonsters

You wait for two Seamonsters and six arrive all at once. Indie Midlands was very much hoping to catch up with one or two of the Sheffield based band instead we found ourselves surrounded by the whole crew. Lucky us! The noisy bar area of The Victoria was probably not the best place to do the interview however – music blared out of the speakers to entice the early Friday night revellers onto the ‘dance floor’ (which, in reality this was just the floor space left by removing a single table. Really!). The lights were dimmed for the same reason, and streams of people were flowing in and out, talking loudly, drinks in hand. The band were due to play the ‘function’ room upstairs, topping the bill, following four other acts. It was going to be a long day for The Seamonsters. After bringing in all their gear and sound-checking they graciously joined us in a corner of the room around a small wobbly table.

Let’s start with the obvious – how did you meet and how do you know each other? The ‘monsters drummer and keenest talker Ciara answers this opening question: “most of us have been childhood friends so we’ve know each other for our whole lives. And we all went to a dance and drama group and got cast as sea monsters in a pantomime, which is where the name comes from. We all applied for the main roles and didn’t get them, so were all sea monsters at the back of the stage. The band took the name after that but we wanted to turn it around and be at the front of the stage. Then Ella joined a year ago when our keyboard player left. We literally phoned her up four days before a sold-out gig and was like “you need to learn all our songs!””

The four officially released singles give a little glimpse of what The Seamonsters are about. First release Max & Archie centres around a tongue-in-cheek and simple, if not slightly disjointed, sing-along chorus; but it also, undoubtedly, had a few moments of ear-catching interest – as if to say ‘there’s more to come from us’. ‘Lost (and Found)’ and ‘Wonderland’ are far more developed indie-pop grooves with an identifiable and individual sound. ‘Blue Movie Baby’ is a tempestuous groover with seductive vocals and crafted energetic drum rhythms an early U2 would be proud of.

For us non-creative types the question of how do you write your songs is always an interesting one. Most of the time the question is met with a “dunno? Just sort of ‘appens. Y’know?”. Fortunately The Seamonsters are a lot more lucid and forthcoming when it comes to explaining their writing process. “We always start with an idea and then we all write our own parts,” begins Naomi, “that’s usually how it works.” Ciara adds “We write the music and then get a feel for what the song is about from how the music sounds. So we’ve got a song that kinda sounds like a James Bond theme, it’s quite dramatic, and Naomi wrote some French lyrics to go along with that. And it fits with it.” For ‘Blue Movie Baby’ the girls holed themselves up in a holiday home with the single mission of writing. “We had no phone signal so we just sat around in a circle and wrote for three days. We then went to the beach when we got annoyed with each other” laughs Ella.

Have The Seamonsters found any difficulties being an all-female band in a industry with a reputation for being male dominated? “At first it was,”recalls Naomi, “when we were 16 or 17 it was but as we’re older and we are playing [as support] with more established bands it’s working to our advantage now.” “Festivals are being criticised for not putting enough girls on, and being six girls we’re pretty rare; and so we are the token girl band in the line-up but it’s working in our favour. We want to be booked for our music, obviously, but if we get to play the Isle of Wight festival then fair enough. We should be there anyway.” It was said in neither a boastful or arrogant manner but as an indication of dogged resolve. Even being split over three different universities hasn’t dented their drive. “It’s pretty tricky getting us in the one place at the same time. For gigs me and Laura get the train and the others get lifts”. Ella fixes with with a steely look “We make it work because we want it to work. It’s never going to stop us.” Naomi picks up the baton and with a wry smile, “we’re not going to let university get in the way.”

Finally, we had to ask about, Max & Archie: were they real people, and if so did they mind being immortalised in song forever being asked, “who do you think you are?” or in the explicit version, “who the fuck do you think are you?” When they stop laughing they tell the story of witnessing a movie like romantic tryst between two guys following one of them finishing their shift at a local Tesco. The girls made up a back-story and the song was born. “I doubt that’s their real names” assures Naomi.

The band go on to play a truncated set late into the evening and past the curfew. The business of playing to an audience, enjoying the music and generally having a good time was evident as ever. Instruments were swapped and places changed for different songs, heads bobbed and feet danced but not once did they forget what they were here for – the music. Naomi pirouetted and pouted centre stage looking like a lead singer should. Most of the singles were played and their “Bond theme” sounded captivating and as dramatic as ever, and, for reasons we forgot to ask, the band fall to the floor after the final song. In joke, perhaps, something to do with the pantomime? We should ask them next time. When the music finishes it’s the arduous task of loading up instruments and a two hour drive home. Do not doubt The Seamonsters – they are in this for the long haul.

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Interview by Morph & SdM
Write up by SdM