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|Also known as||Netherlands (2011–2012)|
|Origin||Southampton, Hampshire, England, United Kingdom|
|Genres||Indie rock, Indie pop, Dream-pop, Shoegaze|
Matthew 'Bish' Bishop
|Past members||Zealah Anstey|
Pale Seas (previously known as Netherlands) are an British indie rock and dream-pop band formed in Southampton, Hampshire|Southampton in 2012. The band consists of vocalist and guitarist Jacob Scott, lead guitarist Graham Poole, bassist and keyboardist Matthew 'Bish' Bishop, and drummer Andrew Richardson. The band's sound was described as: « Dark, Moving, Intimate, Powerful, Expansive, Ethereal and Loud. »
The band released their debut album titled Stargazing For Beginners in 2017 on Abbey Records.
Early years (2011-2012)
The first ideas for Pale Seas hailed in 2011 when the frontman, Jacob Scott, studying Architecture in London dropped off university to focus on music. Scott was mostly focused on making music when studying. He recalled that: « I’d spend most of my time writing songs and forget completely about the course for weeks on end, you could always tell which one my scale model was because it would be the one made out of hideous substitute materials because I’d spent all my money on an 8 track or a church organ the week before! I did enjoy studying, but it was always second best to music. » Caracterizing himself as jaded by formal education, he began writing songs with an old acoustic guitar and a Cassette recorder he owned in his Leytonstone, Essex. Scott described his songs as « recalling deep, honest emotions of love and anguish, pain and joy. Tinged with a sadness that was also reticently uplifting... ». He also described his personality, which was translated into his music as: « a spirit... filled with all the torment and illation of a young man coming to grips with himself and the world he inhabits ».
Scott then realized his music had potential and he moved back to his home-town of Southampton, England and formed a band made of some old school-friends and band-mates from earlier musical projects who happened to be around when Scott came back; Graham Poole, while studying Linguistics at Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom joined the band as lead guitarist, Matthew Bishop who was studying Geography at King University joined as bassist and Scott's then girlfriend Zealah Anstey, who was studying in East London did the backing vocals and eventually, the drums. Scott had initially met Poole and Bishop in the same city during college. Scott, Poole and Bishop had once been in a band together when they were in high-school, aged 16.
The band's name was set as Netherlands for a brief period of time before being renamed to Pale Seas in 2012. The name of the band was inspired by Southampton, England expansive coastlines. Further elaborating, Scott explains that: « It ties in with the place we are all from, which is Southampton. I think once you’re born near the water, you can’t really be away from it for too long. I spent my whole teenage life aching to get away from it and now all I want to do is go back. » Scott being the band's sole songwriter at the time, the group began rehearsing Scott's songs.
Debut EP and headline tours (2012-2014)
In 2012, the band moved from Southampton, England to London, England and attended their first studio session with english producers Jimmy Robertson & Demian Castellanos (who had worked with bands such as Klaxons (band), The Big Pink and Last Shadow Puppets) from which hailed Pale Seas’ first single “Something or Nothing“, with B-side “Amour“, which was released in early March 2012 on 7" Vinyl by Fear & Records (Rolo Tomassi, Emmy The Great and I Was a Cub Scout) (UK) and Fastcut Records (Japan). The single sold out within days of the release. It was also included on BBC Radio 1′s Introducing playlist, and won them their first major shows and support slots with the likes of The War on Drugs (band)|The War on Drugs, Beach Fossils, and Jacob’s childhood musical inspiration The Lemonheads. When asked why the single wasn't followed by a music video, the band replied that they didn't want their brand to be a « hype thing » and wanted new listeners to have more material to listen to.
Pale Seas then wrote what went on to become the double A-side single “Bodies” / “My Own Mind” which continued to build on their notoriety. This time enlisting Mercury Award nominated The Bees (band) (who had previously worked with The Bees (band), Devendra Banhart and Michael Kiwanuka) on production at his studio set up in a medieval Abbey in the parish of Chale, Isle of Wight.
In June of 2012, the band released a music video for their upcoming single titled My Own Mind which would be part of the double A-side single “Bodies” / “My Own Mind”.
“Bodies” / “My Own Mind” was released in September 2012 through Ben Lovett (British musician) (Mumford & Sons) label Communion Music in September of 2012. The single “Bodies” grew up to be their first song to surpass 1,000,000 plays online, which contributed to them selling out their own headline shows, and being asked to support 4AD’s Stornoway (band) on their UK tour in 2012.
In November of 2012, the band released an EP exclusively in cassette format titled The Devil Waltz. Prior to the release, the band had hinted at the EP by posting an official music video for a song featured in the EP titled Blood Return which was set in a black-and-white setting featuring a live and intimate acoustic performance of the song. The EP made entirely of home-made demos and featured a cover of Brian Jonestown Massacre|Jennifer by Brian Jonestown Massacre. The EP was released through Twisted Tape Recordings.
Following the release and the support shows, the band headed back to the Isle of Wight for two solitary winter months writing new songs. From that point on, Poole and Bishop joined the songwriting process more inclusively, which allowed the sound of the band to develop to new lengths.
In June of 2014, two years after their latest song, the band released their official music video for a track named Evil Is Always One Step Behind from a new EP Places To Haunt which would be released a month later. The video was directed by Jordan Buck and filmed in Portland, Dorset.
Drummer Will Hilliard joined the band and they released their first EP entitled Places to Haunt via Native Records on 10″ vinyl, CD, and digital download in July of 2014. The EP was produced by Paul Butler. The EP was played integrally for the first time at the London’s Hoxton Hall which sold-out. When asked about the themes surrounding the album by The Guardian, Pale Seas said that it: « ...explores themes of youth, death and alienation and uses this subject matter to seek hope within the macabre. » Additionally, they said that: « The album hailed from a growing disillusionment with education and failure to coherently adapt to the challenges of adulthood. »
Media silence and creative isolation (2014-2017)
From the last shows of 2014 up to early 2017 was complete media-silence from the band. The fans and the media following the band closely were discussing a possible split or hiatus but only bathed in speculation as no press release or hiatus announcement was communicated by the band. In the meantime, Andrew Richardson had joined the band full-time, playing the drums. Scott, Poole and Bishop met Richardson on their first night on tour when he was playing with another band. Scott remembered that all three of them were watching him play and he, in his own words: « ... was hitting the drums so hard that his kick-drum was moving and bouncing across the stage... He had to keep on wrestling it back in time for the chorus... It was incredible. »
During these few years of silence, Pale Seas' band members were in a self-imposed exile in a Abbey of the Isle Of Wight, writing the music for what would become their debut Long Play Stargazing For Beginners. The writing and performing was mainly done at night to try to best capture Scott's feelings which went directly into his writings. The band said that they refused to leave the abbey until the album was completed; a process that took almost 3 years.
Debut album Stargazing For Beginners (2017-present)
In May of 2017, the band broke their almost 3-years-long silence by releasing Into The Night the first single and first track of their upcoming first LP, Stargazing For Beginners. The single's release was accompanied by the publication of an official music video filmed by Hollie Fernando. The video begins with Into The Night and then unchains with Blood Returns, their LP's fifth track. Pale Seas played their first post-confinement show at The Joiners in Southampton on the 25th May of 2017.
In August of 2017, a new single Someday dropped. The official music video for Someday was published soon after. Scott said of Someday, that it was written well-across their two-year isolation and that they had demoed it more than any other song on the record - around one-hundred times in total. He went on to say that « It was recorded in three different studios before we finally felt we had the right version - in a medieval abbey on the Isle of Wight ». Scott said of the song that, « At its core; it’s an attempt to free myself from the pain of losing someone that I loved - and the struggle I had to accept: the reality of day-to-day life after losing them. » The tracklist for the upcoming album was shared by the band and they announced that the album would be released two months later.
The band's debut album Stargazing For Beginners was released in October of 2017. The album hailed 3 singles: Someday, Into The Night and the new rework of My Own Mind. The 10 tracks' album contains 4 re-worked songs from the earlier Pale Seas' days such as My Own Mind, Blood Returns, Bodies and Evil Is Always One Step Behind and 6 new pieces recorded at the medieval abbey during their self-imposed isolation. The LP was produced by Chris Potter (who worked with The Verve) and long-term collaborator, Paul Butler.
When asked about the themes of the album, Scott said: « I think (I thought) if I could show someone, how much I loved them that they might come back - that’s what I thought this record could do. It’s a document of the way I thought I was navigating a period of my life, but in reality, I had absolutely no control whatsoever. »
Scott said that recording Stargazing For Beginners was a challenge, but that it was better that way. He further elaborated by saying that: « I personally would have felt pretty strange if it wasn’t a challenge: it’s one of the things I enjoy most about writing music. In my own experience, the music I like most - and the work I am proudest of creating - has suffered for ». He also revealed that: « It doesn’t come easy and there’s always been something quite dark about the thrill of writing those kinds of songs for me. »
When asked about the reasons behind the band's 3 years' media-silence and what they were up to during that time, Scott revealed: « We wanted to try and make something great - that’s all that’s ever really mattered to us. I feel very proud of us all for making the record we have but we’ve never seen getting an album out as an achievement; it just had to be great to us... » He went on to say about the album that: « Having the time away has allowed us to create something that reaches the level we set in all of our heads when we first started playing music together.» He then went on to explain that the album was written without external time-constraints as, in his own words: « There was no great pressure for a Pale Seas album to come out... To us, the pressure was making sure that when it did, it was special. »
In July of 2018, the band released an official remix of their song Someday by Everything Everything.
In October of 2018, the band released their official music video shot by Hollie Fernando for Animal Tongue, 7th track of their debut LP.
Pale Seas' musical style has been hard to pinpoint. It has been described as grappling influences from indie rock, indie pop, dream-pop and even lo-fi at times. The EP Something Or Nothing was described as indie rock fuzed with shoegaze. Even though the band has been critical of associating a genre to the band's sound, they sometimes jokingly describe the band as dream-folk. The Independent has described their sound as “warm psychedelica that recalls a less-eccentric, early Pink Floyd”.
When asked about which genre he would associate with the band, Scott has been critical of the idea saying: « To be fair, I make sure it doesn’t go into a bracket. I think bands make the mistake of getting content and settling into a genre. » Further on, he goes on to say: « ...there’s not one band that I think you could sit there and go, ‘yeah, they sound like this [Pale Seas] .’ I think that’s a good way to keep it. » When talking about Something Or Nothing he says: « I think our first single showed one side of us, and the songs that are coming through from this next single will show another side to us. And that’s really good... I think a lot of people like things to be in brackets. ‘When I’m chilled out, I’ll listen to Portishead; when I’m really happy or when I’m in the car, I’ll listen to Fleetwood Mac.’ People like genres for doing different kinds of things. I’d rather just be a band that’s eclectic and has stuff for different occasions. »
During the recording and writing of Stargazing For Beginners, Pale Seas' band members were in a self-imposed exile in a medieval abbey of the Isle Of Wight, writing the music for what would become their debut Long Play Stargazing For Beginners. The writing and performing was mainly done at night to try to best capture Scott's feelings which went directly into his writings. The band said that they refused to leave the abbey until the album was completed; a process that took almost 3 years. It relates and is consistent to Scott's idea that songwriting should be « natural » and be directly condensed from the raw feelings present at the time of writing.
Scott lists as early inspirations, bands and songwriters such as Marc Bolan, T. Rex, Dinosaur Jr., the Dead Kennedys, The Lemonheads and Nomeansno, Eddie Cochrane, Gene Vincent, Leonard Cohen, The Cure and Van Morisson. He also listed https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Other%7CNo Other by Gene Clark as the album that means the most to him. When describing his inspirations when it comes to his songwriting, he lists Stuart Murdoch (musician)|Stuart Murdoch because of the way he: « tells a story, knitting words together from conversations as he goes » and Elliot Smith because he made him realize that: « writing a sad song could be infinitely more beautiful than a happy one.» When asked which song Scott wishes he had written, he lists Cold Fact|Crucify Your Mind by Sixto Rodriguez because it helped him go through rough times.
Poole lists as early inspirations, bands and songwriters such as The Beatles, The Hollies, Nick Drake, Ride (band)|Ride, Frank Zappa and Jimi Hendrix. Poole named Forever Changes by Love (band) as the album that means the most to him, describing his rationale as: « It was the first time I’d heard so many different styles and elements marry together so seamlessly on one album. It was Psychedelia, Pop music|Pop; Folk music|Folk, Rock music|Rock; Orchestral music|Orchestral and Western music|Wild West sounds - all rolled into a selection of beautifully written songs. But, mainly, because hearing it for the first time also coincided with me moving to London, United Kingdom for the first time - and listening to almost nothing but Love for an entire autumn...so it always puts me on a huge nostalgia trip. »
Matthew 'Bish' Bishop
Bishop lists as early inspirations bands and songwriters such as Grandaddy, Daniel Johnston and Spectrum (band)
- Jacob Scott – lead vocals, acoustic guitar (2012–present)
- Graham Poole – lead guitar, rhythm guitar, backing vocals (2012–present)
- Matthew Bishop – bass guitar, keyboard, backing vocals (2012–present)
- Andrew Richardson – drums (2016–present)
- Zealah Isabella Anstey - drums, backing vocals (2011-2012)
- Will Hilliard - drums (2012-2016)
- Stargazing For Beginners (2017)
- Something Or Nothing (2012)
- Bodies / My Own Mind (2012)
- The Devil Waltz (2012)
- Places To Haunt (2014)
- Wicked Dreams (2014)
- Someday (2017)
- My Own Mind (2017)
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