Great War uniforms, lively onstage antics and an over-riding sense of drama pepper the British Sea Power canon. This Brighton four piece are one of the most inventive acts to ever expose themselves to the music industry. Embraced by right-minded rock fans everywhere, their debut album ‘The Decline Of British Sea Power’ was a wondrous and absorbing work. Now incredibly approaching its 12th anniversary, the album is set for a re-release, accompanied by a range of shows where they will perform the work in its entirety. We got in touch with the band, so they could account for themselves in all their singular and anomalous glory.
BN1 – You’re a band known for ceaselessly advancing artistically, so why go back to perform your debut?
BSP – Because it’s still a great record and as the rights reverted to us this year we thought let’s put it out again. So it lets us re-issue it ourselves and make a special fans’ release, with lots of extra things that we hope our fans will treasure. So all in all – a big time, fun time!
BN1 – How does it feel to have produced such a ‘classic album’? Or do you consider all of your productions classic?
BSP – It feels good, it’s all pretty good on a good day. It’s hard to say what you mean by classic – that is for other people to decide. To us it’s our first LP, representing a time and place long gone. Still sounds good though, I can’t believe its 12 years old – quite frightening!
BN1 – You’re known for larking about onstage, have your performances calmed down at all?
BSP – We’re still as strong and rubbery as ever, but yes we are officially old boys now. So maybe slightly less climbing tent poles and jumping off PA stacks, but we are still up for it, and things still happen in the heat of the moment!
BN1 – You’ve drawn influences from an extensive and esoteric range of places. What music and art is inspiring you right now?
BSP – Natty Dreadlocks has been coming to dinner a lot recently, always good to hear what he has to say about the state of things. Anything can be inspiring… I like the sound of wind going through a pipe.
BN1 – Would you ever consider producing a film project? Or is music providing challenge enough?
BSP – Only if John Candy is involved. Seriously, we have been lucky to work with people like Penny Woolcock for ‘From The Sea To The Land Beyond’ (our soundtrack to 100 years of the BFI footage of the British Coast) and Thomas Balmès on ‘Happiness’. The latter is an the award-winning documentary about a village in Tibet, where they introduce electricity and the internet to people whose life style has not changed for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. It’s beautiful, if sad. One of the last shots is of these villagers gathered around the TV watching American wrestling! And most recently a film made by Justin Hardy about Captain Webb, the first man to swim the English Channel. All of these directors are award-winners, so it’s been a great experience, and yes makes us want to make our own films. But it also makes you realise how big a project a film is, on top of the music. So for the time being we are happy making our occasional videos and dreaming big.
BN1 – When was the last time you found your life boring?
BSP – Every time I eat my food, I think: “oh, here we go again.” Not bored at all, life’s too short!
BN1 – Have you run out of interesting places to record and perform?
BSP – No, the world is full of interesting places. It would be a pretty rum state of affairs to run out of ideas and places. We’ve been very lucky to find unusual places to play and record in. It’s always an extra surprise is to find our fans turning up as well, whether in the highest pub in England, down a salt mine in Romania, on the Great Wall of China, at the Natural History Museum, under the Cutty Sark, beside Jodrell Bank, on a ferry across the Mersey, at the Eden Project or on an island off Norway in mid-summer when the sun doesn’t set. The list goes on and we love it, and our fans do too. It beats playing Carling Academies, that for sure! As for where next – a sausage factory perhaps?
BN1 – Are there any big ambitions left for the band?
BSP – I like to think so. The next one, after all these re-issue and re-workings with the films and the Sea of Brass, is to make a great new LP. Writing has started and it’s going to be our best yet! The new classic! The main thing is to keep enjoying it after 15 years and see if we can carry on for another 15.
British Sea Power perform ‘The Decline Of British Sea Power’ at Concorde 2, on Wed 10 Jun.