British Sea Power have been a mainstay of the UK Indie-Rock scene since the early 00’s. Over the course of their career, they have scored film and documentary soundtracks, organised wildly popular club nights, toured extensively around the world, and somewhere inbetween all that they managed to find time to write some incredible records. Ahead of their latest album, Let the Dancers Inherit the Party, we sat down with them for a little chat.
With a huge catalogue of music beneath their belts, BSP are about to release their tenth record, which they described to me as a ‘tiring statement to hear!’ explaining that they have lost track of just how many records they have released. Considering that they technically have six studio albums under their belts and a whole host of re-released previous records and soundtracks, you can hardly blame them. Despite such a long list of songs and releases, they are definitely happy to be getting round to an album of new music.
Over the last few years, the music industry has seen some climactic changes in the way funding for artists works. To release an album via your fans rather than receiving the financial support from your record label was completely unheard of five years ago. For the latest album Let the Dancers Inherit the Party, BSP took on the idea of crowdfunding with abandon. Avoiding third party services like Kickstarter to deal directly with their fans, BSP ran the project entirely themselves. Offering novelty items such as ‘lifetime show passes’ in the form of tattoos and a pre-order box set for the new album including demos from the album production – an obvious must-have for the ultimate BSP fan. Despite the reaction and help from their loyal fanbase in this endeavour, BSP aren’t fully backing the movement towards crowdfunding from conventional record labels. “It works for certain bands with a fan base, but it’s more difficult for new bands. There will always be a role for record labels I think. Doing it 100% DIY style is pretty tough and can be too much work for a band, especially if you prefer making music.”
With such a mammoth collection of songs, over an extensive period of time, it’s easy to grow tired of the process involved with writing a new album. BSP have tried to keep this at bay by being their own devil’s advocate, and trying to better themselves constantly. “Keep learning, keep reading, keep listening, with everything in moderation, including moderation,” as they say. With such a strong resolve to avoid falling into any easy habits, it’s of no surprise that BSP are incredibly difficult to pin down into a musical genre. Sitting somewhere between Joy Division, The Cure and Arcade Fire, while still retaining a ‘spark’ which makes them completely individual. LTDITP had an array of songs which rang true to this during the recording process, but they also wanted to create something fairly cohesive, even at the expense of having a huge variety. Producer Cam Blackwood helped the band to select the tracks, and he preferred the songs which weren’t overly masculine. Not that they had much in the way of Pantera-esque riffs knocking about.
Part of what makes BSP so special are their quirks, and willingness to extend their musical prowess across to other forms of media. During 2012 BSP created the soundtrack to From the Sea to the Land Beyond, a documentary style film that explored a century of life along British coastlines, touching upon social history, womens history and the rise and fall of the fishing industry. Making the jump from writing albums to soundtracks wasn’t too difficult for the band, it seems, stating that “it’s more about patience, maintaining a mood and slow build-ups with films. With normal albums you have to deal with elements such as lyrics and choruses. Unless you’re Mogwai.” One of BSP’s more well known extraneous creative outlets is their much-loved club night Krakenhaus, which was born on the beaches of Brighton. Boasting ‘Nocturnal Music for all sexes and racial profiles’ it featured BSP performing in a variety of iterations – as a full band performing full albums and B-side sets, and spinning records to name but a few. Krakenhaus also featured poetry performances, Radio 6 DJ’s, Brighton & Hove City Brass band, and a “humane installation featuring cats listening to Mastodon in a Wheelie Bin.” These clubnights were short-lived, filling the band’s diary whilst taking a break from touring. It was resurrected for a one-off event in Birmingham last year, to much joy from fans. When asked if we could expect another event upon the release of LTDITP, it’s an unfortunate no. Thinking that it may be “time to move on” from the events which were intrinsically linked to the album Machineries of Joy.
BSP are currently planning a full UK tour upon the release of LTDITP, featuring a stop at our lovely city’s Handmade Festival. It will be the band’s first time appearing at Handmade, and they are “planning on making plans” to bring something special to the event. Following their UK run of shows, BSP will be heading out to “Lady Europa” hoping that “Mr Farage hasn’t spoiled it for us” as they haven’t toured there for some time, and love playing shows on the continent.
When performing live, BSP have a favourite track to play in the form of The Great Skua. “It’s the only time for communal quiet reflection during our sets. It has a glorious rabble rousing end which fills the whole room with some magical power. You can bag it in your core and carry it into the night.” A feeling which undoubtedly and perfectly encapsulates the soul of British Sea Power.
British Sea Power play Handmade Festival on the weekend of 29th & 30th April at O2 Academy Leicester.