UTG INTERVIEW: Seahaven Discuss ‘Reverie Lagoon: Music for Escapism Only’

Seahaven 2014

Seahaven are currently facing what could very well become one of their most significant years as a band. The Torrance, California group recently wrapped up a month-long tour supporting mewithoutYou, and within a week, they will be releasing their risk-taking sophomore release, Reverie Lagoon: Music for Escapism Only.

On top of all of that, they will be embarking on a European headlining tour with Nai Harvest and Battle Lines in April, which will be immediately followed up by a headlining US tour with Adventures and Foxing in May. UTG had the opportunity to catch up with guitarist Michael Craver and frontman/guitarist Kyle Soto hours before their headlining set at Run For Cover Records’ SXSW showcase last week where the two discussed their approach to the songwriting process and their take on fan interpretation, among other things.

UTG: So where did the album title come from?

KS: Well… “It just came from the sky, man. It came from the earth, it came from the universe…” no, [laughs]. It went through a couple of different stages, as far as the way it was arranged. I think I had Reverie Lagoon, and then I think I had Music for Escapism Only, and I was torn, so I said, “you know what? Whatever, I’ll put them together!” I’m very happy with what it turned out to be, but this ties in with more than one album; it ties in lyrically and it ties in sonically, with what it’s supposed to be… It’s literal and it’s metaphorical. It just works on all levels of the album.

UTG: You guys have just finished up your tour with mewithoutYou. How was it? I’m sure it had to be different, to some capacity.

KS: Yeah! What did they have, like 35 songs, Michael? Was that it?

MC: A night?

KS: No, no. They had a group, I think it was 35 songs.

MC: Oh yeah! They have a revolving set list. They had like, whatever the number is, probably 35 songs rehearsed, they craft a new set list every night, and they pick and choose.

KS: There’s definitely some super folk-y stuff, mellow stuff, and then their heavier stuff.

MC: The “cold cuts.”

KS: Yeah, the “cold cuts.” So they kind of divvy it up, and then Touché is heavy, but at the same time, very melodic. Somehow, we kind of fit in there and just did what we do, and…I don’t know, you could definitely see our fan base and then see newcomers that haven’t heard us, but I think that’s a good thing. Playing to people that know you is awesome because they’re into it and they appreciate it, but playing to new ears is always a good thing.

MC: I had a great time. It was a true pleasure opening for them, getting to hang out with them, they’re beautiful people, it was a great tour for everyone. It was a great tour for us, it seemed like a great tour for them, Touché, Caravels, and Drug Church. All of the elements of a really successful and low damage tour, they were all there.

UTG: Low damage?

MC: Well, just as far as you know…

UTG: Less risks, or…?

MC: Well the weather was bad. But overall, it was a really smooth tour. It didn’t feel as long as it was.

UTG: So between this most recent one and your first album (Winter Forever), I’ve noticed some summer and winter tonalities, whether it was with the imagery of the records or even the overall feel of the songs. Was that intentional? Or was that the way it just panned out to be?

KS: This actually happens with a lot of elements of the music. A lot of it is intentional and I feel that with how much attention to detail, at least the way I think about everything, a lot of things fall into place on their own, because there are already elements that are there. So it wasn’t intentionally supposed to be “okay, the last album was called Winter Forever, and it kind of sounds like this, so this one’s going to be the summer version,” you know? It’s not supposed to be that, but that’s kind of naturally where it fell because of where things progressed, musically, and where they progressed as far as headspace goes with whatever lyrical content. We posted a new song today [“Love to Burn”], and we saw what [the site] had said about it, and they said something funny, like, “tiki torches” and…

MC: Oh yeah, they were trying to paint this Hawaii imagery–

KS: They talked about how the bass was like the oil for the tiki torch under a moonlit sky [laughs].

MC: I’m not trying to disrespect anyone.

KS: Oh no, I eat it up. I love it.

MC: I think the fact that they were inspired enough by the song to not only see something, but articulate themselves, that’s cool. If that’s what the person saw, then that’s what it is.

KS: So far, all of the response that we’ve gotten for this record as far as the way it makes people feel and the imagery and all of that stuff is absolutely nothing to complain about. If it does that, then it’s hopefully doing what it’s supposed to be doing, you know? It’s definitely in the right direction.

UTG: Would that mean that you try to approach your writing so that the end result is open to interpretation? Or would you like people to “get” a certain point?

KS: I guess it could sound like a selfish thing, but it’s the only genuine way to write songs. You gotta write them for you, you gotta write them from a personal place, you know what I mean? So I’ll write a song and it will be very specific and very personal, and there will be a line that’s a very literal thing, something that has happened, exactly as it is written, and something that’s a little more ambiguous or a little more general, whatever it may be, but people take it and they make it their own. So you can’t really get wrapped up and try to think “oh, I’m want to generalize this, I want to write it so that everyone can relate to it.” You’ve got to write what makes sense to you, what is natural, and keep all of that out of your head. If it’s completely out of your head and you write a song that’s from a completely organic place, then people relate to it regardless, because it’s a completely organic situation. It’s not something that’s forced and it’s not something that you try to make relatable. I’m writing it like it’s a diary. The song’s are my diary, essentially, and that’s my way of just getting out whatever. If people can relate to it, then it’s absolutely amazing. I’m always shocked when people come up to me about it, and I’m extremely grateful that it can do that.

UTG: Was there anything that made this songwriting process more different than those of the past?

KS: Mainly what it is, is if I get a song idea, I’ll write it on acoustic or whatever in my room and I’ll take it to this guy (*motions towards Michael*) who will have his take on it, as far as leads and ideas for whatever go. On this one, it wasn’t like “oh, I’m going to write this song and leave no room,” but a lot of the times, if an idea would come, it wouldn’t just be the guitar and vocals. It would be the guitar, vocals, and other instruments, you know what I mean? It’s really crazy. I had a laptop and I was toying with a lot of different instrumentation, and a lot of it got done that way. Not to say that we were never in a room together playing and toying around or anything, but a lot of the songs came in big waves. It was a little different writing is what I would say. Would you agree?

MC: Yeah! I feel that some of the songs that at least have existed in some bare-bones form since even before Winter Forever existed. Like, some of those same songs didn’t get the treatment of going to a full band. Some of those songs have retained the original idea of what they were, like just a guitar and a vocal melody. Or if it was more of a texture, moreso an emphasis on a certain guitar part, drum part, or whatever, a lot of it seems a lot more textured, but I find that to be the thing as far as I’m concerned, because a lot of these songs have existed for a while and they stayed so true to their form. They didn’t go through some weird composition period, it’s kind of just how Kyle heard it and that’s how it ended up. It’s really cool to hear something organic like that.

UTG: Between two-part songs and complex structures, you can sort of say that this has been one of your most ambitious releases to date. Was there anything in particular that inspired that or was that just an effort to move forward as a band?

KS: Once again, it’s never like “OK, this is the one where we try harder,” or “this is the one where we try to do weird things,” it’s just kind of like how it ended up being. I think it’s just going through the motions, you write a record of straightforward songs, then at least, for at least me and us, the next record probably isn’t going to be super straightforward, because you want to try different angles of writing a song.  It’s not like, crazy, there aren’t the most groundbreaking, never-heard-before structures, but it’s not as straightforward as Winter Forever was, and I think it will definitely take a couple of listens to feel it out. There are definitely references of songs to other songs and songs to other records or whatever, but I think there’s a lot to soak in, and it will take a good amount of listens to kind of understand what is Reverie Lagoon… you know what I mean?

MC: I think it’s just a natural evolution. It really is. I think we’ve always tried to do something larger than what we’ve already had on the table. To me it seems like it’s the most natural evolution that could’ve taken place. We’ve wanted to do something cool for a while, and this just made sense.

KS: If this makes sense, it’s not like this is how the thought process happened, but those favorite parts of the old songs that we like to hear or play are what carried over into the album, and have just been elaborated upon.

UTG: To close, what’s your favorite track off of the album and why? 

KS: [shrugs] what’s your favorite track? [to Michael]

MC: I seriously can’t pick one. It seems not like one song, it seems like one scope, almost. Not that it’s sequenced to be a phased record, but it goes through different twists and turns.

KS: Essentially to pick a favorite song is not really like picking a favorite song, it’s more like a certain piece of what it is. It’s a piece of the whole. Like if you’re into this song at this time, then you’re into that mood.

MC: If you gave me a cherry pie, I couldn’t tell you what my favorite slice was. I like them all.

Seahaven’s Reverie Lagoon: Music for Escapism Only will be released next week on March 25 through Run For Cover Records, and can be pre-ordered through RFC’s webstore and iTunes.

Interview written and conducted by Adrian GarzaFollow him on Twitter.

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