Seabellies are kicking things into top gear, with the release of their new album Fever Belle set for next Friday. Hailing from Newcastle, the band have been gigging all over the place as they gee up their fans for what’s sure to be an appropriate and well-thought out reintroduction to the world of Seabellies LPs.
With less than a week to go now until album release day, Music Feeds caught up with vocalist and guitarist Trent Grenell to get a little insight into how things went touring in support of their current single It’s Alright, and what we can expect from the album.
Music Feeds: Hey there, Trent! Thanks for taking the time to chat. So you’re well on your way through a run of live shows along the East Coast. How’s the hangover feeling?
Trent Grenell: It was feeling pretty intense last week. We played Melbourne and Brisbane back to back and both cities were very accommodating, to say the least. We definitely have to get our party stamina back up after taking so much time off to make this new record!
MF: Partying aside, it was a time for business also. You hit the road in the good name of your latest single It’s Alright. From where you were standing, how have the fans taken to the new track?
TG: I think It’s Alright has been one of the highlights of our set since we started playing it live around 6 months ago. It is a very odd track in that it has a lot of different time signatures running over the top of each other.
It ends up sounding subtle, but rhythmically the song has 4 drum kits going on the recording, as well as electronic beats, so live it has this upbeat swagger, but is covered with quite a melancholy melody. I think fans have really enjoyed seeing us go back to our roots with some more programmed electro, but stretching our melodic legs. It’s still my favourite Seabellies song.
MF: It’s Alright is an eclectic track. It feels as though every sound we hear had to prove its worth to make the final cut. Talk us through the inspiration for the track and how it took shape.
TG: The track was written entirely in Berlin, when I was living there in 2011, and the band joined me after a while and we nutted about four album tracks there. I was going to lots of strange electro parties, and really wanted to challenge our programming skills, but still make a beautiful song to compliment it. It really did take a long time to write, just to figure out how to make a 9/4 beat sit with a 4/4 beat, whilst the vocals and guitars bend around in 6/4.
We never really bothered messing about with tricky time signatures before, but we wanted something a little odd and unexpected punching behind a sparse, guitar-driven melody. Lyrically, it is a conversation between my left and right brain, one side working in overtime to reach the limits of existential anxiety and the other side telling it to chill the fuck out. I tend to do this internally rather too often.
MF: Come Friday, 18th October, you will be releasing your new album Fever Belle. What do we hear in Fever Belle that we don’t hear in It’s Alright?
TG: Fever Belle is far more diverse than our debut album. I think we have always been attracted to being a diverse band, but maybe were too scared to really trust that on our first record. It’s Alright probably represents around 1/3 of the mood of the album. For the most part, it is a record of juxtaposition – half the album revelling in the joy of absolute contentment and the other half dealing with the fallout of what happens when that is suddenly gone.
Musically, we are way more playful with our structure, rhythm and melody. There is a lot of marrying a blippy electronic sound with organic band sounds. We have electronic harps, we have horns, we have pitch-shifted guitars, we have noise, and we love it. I pushed myself hard, maybe too hard, in the melodies on this record, to the point where I can’t party as much as I want to on tour, as I really have to look after my voice to sing some of these tracks. They’re challenging, and it’s all my fault!
MF: How much of the new tunage made it to the setlist for your It’s Alright tour?
TG: On this tour we are playing 7 of the 12 new tracks, with an eye to playing most of the new album by year’s end. It is so satisfying playing new tracks now, especially when they are way better songs and way more engaging live.
MF: If you were to hold up Fever Belle right next to the 2010 album By Limbo Lake, what do you feel the points of difference are?
TG: Although we are intensely proud of that album, and so happy with how it was received, I think we were still finding our feet. This record was designed to be a little more layered and beautiful than the last album, and just feels like the perfect combination of what we were always trying to achieve, in exploring lots of sounds and ideas but in a cohesive way. I think we were trying to be quite sunny back then and this album has all four seasons.
MF: I see you’ve been working on a brand-new film clip and inviting fans to get involved. How much are you willing to reveal about your latest video project?
TG: Very little! Heheheh, you’ll see soon enough!
MF: When can we expect a national tour announcement from you guys?!
TG: Ridiculously soon! We are very excited, and busting to tell you…
MF: What lessons have you learned from the It’s Alright Tour that you will forever hold onto?
TG: To not ALL sleep in a row on the floor of another band’s garage. It just makes good sense.
The Seabellies’ ‘Fever Belle’ is released next Friday, 18th October. Stay tuned to Music Feeds for tour dates!