With all of the indie-rock promotion overcrowding small venues and mp3 lists, it is comforting to know a band like Sea Snakes may be on the next mixed tape someone makes you.
The Toronto natives have been together for two years and all have had previous experiences in other bands. They have known each other since they were teenagers, except drummer Nathan Lawr, whom they later met through other bands.
Sea Snakes have a distinct sound with soft harmonies and a folk rock-jazzy feel. They portray a serious disposition in their music, as well as precise and complex musical layering.
"Sometimes I think we're too complex musically," lead guitarist Kristian Galberg said in the dim Java House, located on Queen St. West. "We try to find a place where complexity seems simple. We don't want to be complex, but we can't help ourselves."
According to Galberg, bassist Jeremy Strachan has a lot to do with the arrangement of the music, but the band is collective by sharing ideas to one another and taking on roles as required.
"Most of our practices generate into disco jams or bluesÖthings we'll never do in a live setting or studio," Galberg said. "We love to play music and we bore ourselves often, but sometimes complexity is something that comes out of thatÖnot wanting to be bored."
Lead singer Jim McIntyre takes the role of writing all of the lyrics as his words bleed with honesty and poetic influence. Galberg commented how McIntyre always tries to find some new way to phrase an image or an idea.
"Songs exist for a few months," Galberg explained, "But lyrics to me last."
There are both gloomy and romantic elements to their first album, Clear as Day, the Darkest Tools, released in September 2004. The nine-track album has beautiful vocalization, as McIntyre's voice performs as another instrument in each song.
"The name of the album is taken from a lyric of a song that didn't make the album," Galberg said. "But that song may appear later."
All of the songs have gentle tones and experiment with instruments like saxophone, cello, and horn. The fifth track "Firebugs at CafÈ Eitelkeit" has spectacles of violin and guitar picking, creating an almost floating at ease atmosphere.
McIntyre's words cradle the rhythm:
"I couldn't help thinking/ We should rush back in and/ Pull as many bodies out as we could."
The sound and impression of Clear as Day, the Darkest Tools is merely the beginning of the band, as they won't discuss what the next album is going to sound like because they themselves don't know.
"I can't say what exactly the next album will sound like and I'm excited about that," Galberg admitted. "We did the Wooden Stars show without drums, added three saxophones and a flute. We always re-think and change things. The next record will definitely be different."
Galberg pointed out that he and keyboardist Shaw-Han Liem discussed the future of the band. "Shaw-Han also brought this up, that we don't know what we're going to accomplish. We often think we do, but we're surprised."
The band's plan for 2005 consists of working on a new album some time in the fall and touring Canada.
Sea Snakes will be playing shows in the US in the month of February, including New York City and then back to Ontario gigs in March.
Visit the band's web site at www.seasnakes.net for more information on show dates.
Writer: Mindi St. Amand