Just when you thought it was safe again to go near the water, Sea Lungs have returned with a new single, “Lighthouse Noir“. I swear on a bottle of gin (it is only good for swearing on) that these guys are getting better every release. Maybe they are getting into their groove or finding their sea legs but whatever it is, they should keep doing it. The new single conjures up visions of Sexgang Children with a little pinch of The Virgin Prunes and wrapped in the ever perfectly spine tingling vocals of Lennon, eerily sounding ever so like Rozz Williams. A story of madness brought on by loneliness and extreme melancholy, a heay toll that brings on suicidal thoughts while the wonderful guitars smashing down like waves on the rocks below. “Lighthouse Noir” is out on Mantravision Productions, so we though there is no better time than now to talk to founding member Jarrad Robertson about the band and how they are navigating the waters of the music scene.
Aaarrrghh…. welcome Jarrad Robertson of the band Sea Lungs. Come sit in the wadding pool with our pet kraken, whilst we talk of tales and scrim the shaw with Onyx.
Seeing as you are no land lovers, can you please introduce the crew.
Sea Lungs is made up of Andi Lennon on vocals, Dase Beard and Micheal Johnson share bass duties depending on the tracks requirements ( Dase does the noisy guitar bits too), I play the guitars and cover the drums (both live and programmed) and Ant Banister provides the production skills and throws some keys in when needed.
Now, not all of you live close to each other do you? How much harder does it make to construct your music?
I’d say it has taken some of the strain out making the music. I write the main composition of each song and then send it off to each of the guys to do their thing. We all just do it when we have time, and with the understanding that it gets done when it gets done. That takes any pressure out of trying to create something to fit a deadline. It would be nice to get in a room and hash them out though at some point. Micheal and I live 10 minutes from each other, yet due to recent lockdowns and family commitments we haven’t really had much of a chance to jam.
You are all in the darker alternative scene, so how did Sea Lungs come to fruition?
In early 2020 as lockdowns were beginning and live music stopped I decided to record some stuff at home, as countless others did. But it was a bit unsatisfying so I reached out to people I’d met while gigging with my previous band and asked for help to fill the songs out. Apart from Micheal, I’ve only ever met the other members once or twice so it felt like a long shot. Luckily everyone I asked said yes and now we have my perfect lineup. The bands we are all from make music very different to the SL stuff so it’s a place to experiment.
Sea Lungs is a rather curious moniker and I am wondering how did you decide upon it?
Like so many band names I borrowed it from a song title. It’s the name of my favorite Baroness track. But it felt right in what I wanted the project to represent. At the time when the idea for this project first popped into my head I was going through a rough patch with my mental health. I found that seeing the ocean, even if just from my car while driving home, would clear my head and allow me to breathe. So it just fit. When I started writing with Andi, without me telling him the name, he took the lyrics in a nautical direction so it seemed it was destined to stick
Your latest single is Lighthouse Noir, which is a rollicking and crazed sea shanty. Between the guitar work and Andi’s vocals, this is a hybrid beastie, a cross between Sexgang Children and Virgin Prunes with that sing song manner at times. How did the band go about writing this little epic?
The main guitar part for the song was a kind of guitar warm-up, or even subconscious tick kind of thing. I’ve been playing it for years just as a thing I do everytime I pick up my guitar. Anyway I got a new guitar pedal and as soon as I played the warm-up it just sounded like something from an old mystery film. After fleshing it out I got the mental image of a thriller set at a lighthouse. This is the only time I’ve actually passed an idea for a narrative on to Andi and he dived on it. He is a master at spinning tales and the lighthouse idea was definitely in his hitting zone.
The artwork for Lighthouse Noir is bloody awesome. Bilge away and tells us who created this masterpiece?
An artist called Nikko who I’ve had a few dealings with now drew this up for us. He does amazing work and I could not be happier with it. I said ‘hey, can you do a lighthouse?’ and that was the total of my input. With just that tiny bit of info He ran with the idea and nailed it. He can be found at @nikko_s_den on Instagram for more info.
Your previous single Piss Up A Rope is a far different creature, bringing attention to how very few take advantage of the many. Can you tell us a little more about this premise?
Again, Andi has to take all the credit for this. We like to look at the idea of Empires, both past and present. While these days there is less of conquering foreign lands and taking colonial possessions, there are still empires being built at the expense of the masses. It unfortunately seems that now we willingly provide the means for these billionaires to do as they please and applaud them for it. But a tech giant taking all of your information and selling it or a multinational crushing small business should not be idolized. There is no comparison to the atrocities of historical empire building, but I’m sure horribly exploited workers the world over may see some parallels.
With three singles released, are you guys looking to keep going this way or release these tracks on an EP or album?
The goal is definitely to release something in a longer format and to get something physical out into the world. That’s hopefully in the works for later in the year.
Mantravision is the label Sea Lungs is with and Ant Banister also does the producing, mixing and mastering, which may we say is excellent and with that in mind, how did you get involved with Ant and Mantravision?
-I have only met Ant once when his band Sounds Like Winter (which also features Andi) came to Melbourne and played on a lineup with my previous band. We got chatting and liked each other’s music. After I decided to begin Sea Lungs his name was top of my list to collaborate with. Luckily he liked the demos I sent him, or he has been too polite to turn me down so far.
So is music for you a more political thing or just whatever inspiration hits you with?
Andi and I both share a love of History and take a huge amount of our inspiration and ideas from it. And the most fascinating parts are usually the most horrible. I think it’s a very common human trait to be drawn to diabolical tales, viewed from far enough away to not get blood on your shoes. There is no joy to be taken from it, it’s more just finding out what our species have been capable of and hoping we don’t repeat the horrors. And it seems that all of it has political ties so I guess it’s unavoidable.
I’ve always thought music should be a bit dangerous, a little uncomfortable. If you can listen to an album and not be left with questions or have been shifted in some way then what is the point? We aren’t necessarily making any blunt political points with our music but there are morals, like any good tale. How would a person react to the isolation of a lighthouse keeper’s work? Or in the case of “Piss up a rope”, how much wealth is enough, and at what or who’s expense?
Will we be getting a tale of swashbuckling pirates? Nay we do not want it but rather need it!
-I’m sure at some point there will be a mention of pirates, but probably not in a positive light. The romanticised idea we see of pirates from the age of sail is pretty far removed from reality. That being said my kids would love it, so maybe if this project fails and I move into children’s entertainment.
What music influences do each member bring with them?
One of my favourite things about Sea Lungs is the varied musical backgrounds we come from. Although we all kind of meet on the post-punk front we have all done very different things previously. Andi brings the Death-rock and punk vibes. Dase has played noise rock, post-hardcore, doom and sludge. Dase and Micheal both go pretty far down the experimental noise rabbit-hole too. Most of my influence is drawn from grunge, alt rock and a bit of metal so I guess when we throw it all together it makes for an interesting brew. Ant, besides being a local post-punk hero, loves all things synth and electronic so I’m trying to lead him astray by giving him heavier music to work on. But there is a strict no synths policy in Sea Lungs.
Do you think at some point you will all get together to do some live gigs?
We are currently working out when that will be possible. It’s definitely going to happen, it’s just a matter of maybe outsourcing parts to people based in Melbourne or Sydney if we can’t all get together. But it will happen.
Speaking of live gigs, all of you are in other bands. How has covid affected your ability to play live and be creative in your other projects?
For me it stopped me in my tracks completely. Pigs of the Roman Empire released an EP just as the lockdown began but never got to launch it live. Not long after due to expanding families and work/ life balance we decided to call it quits. The last gig I played was in November 2019, which was the gig I met Ant and Andi at. Those guys are back playing shows with their band Sounds Like Winter which is great, and Dase is playing shows occasionally too, but for 2 years in Melbourne at least the live scene was dead. It’s regaining some momentum now but everyone is kind of holding their breath a little.
If you could be any famous seafarer (real or fantasy) who would it be?
While the idea of sailing the world is captivating, from everything I’ve read it is also terrifying and was for the most part extremely dangerous for numerous reasons. I’m not sure I’d be cut out for it. I think leading an expedition in the age of exploration, like Magellin or Drake, would have been quite an experience, but these voyages usually came at the cost of hundreds if not thousands of lives.
What will the seafaring Sea Lungs be getting up to in the future?!
Writing and recording more tracks. We have a few up our sleeves that we will be working on for a physical release in the next few months. Other than that just trying to stay as active in the musical landscape as possible.
Avast ye salty dog. Thank you for swabbing the decks so to speak young Jarrad and giving us insight into Sea Lungs. The kraken enjoyed very much nibbling at your toes and don’t trust the mermaids on your way out! Crafty wenches they be.