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Sea Wolf brings soul searching to song
If you listen closely, you can hear musician Alex Brown Church dissect the flow of his life. The singer/songwriter, who fronts the indie rock band Sea Wolf, contemplates the inevitability of change through his verse.
“I tend to be attracted to that aspect of our lives, those periods where we’re going from one point to the next stage,” he says. “I use a lot of symbolism, like the changing of the season.”
Sea Wolf plays the Black Sheep on Thursday.
After he graduated from film school in New York City, Church drifted to L.A. He worked as an art handler at The Museum of Contemporary Art, and met a few musical compadres to make music with. They formed Irving, a 1960s rock influenced band, but never got enough momentum going to suit Church. About two years into Irving, he finally started to make the music that spoke to him: indie folk. That music was Sea Wolf, named after Jack London's 1904 novel, "The Sea Wolf." Unlike many bands, Church was the centerpiece. Other musicians are selected for each project.
Apparently that music also spoke much louder to others. After five years of moonlighting as Sea Wolf, a record label signed the band in 2007. His Irving bandmates knew it was coming, he says. In short order, Church resigned from Irving and plowed full speed into a recording relationship with Phil Ek, who also produced albums by bands of a similar genre: Band of Horses, The Shins and Fleet Foxes.
It was Church's struggle with Crohn's disease and a general sense of aimlessness that marked his mid-20s, and naturally Sea Wolf's first album, “Leaves in the River.” He recorded most of it in his own home, calling it, "Bedroom pop songs."
“I was assessing my life, and not sure if I was headed in the direction I wanted to go in,” Church says. “I was making some big life decisions regarding where I wanted to point my life. It was also about addressing my roots and where I’m from.”
It was an Irving tour stop in Montreal that changed the direction of his life. He met a girl, who he's still with, and after he quit Irving, went back to Montreal to be with her. That's where he wrote the the bulk of his second, more refined album, “White Water, White Bloom."
“I was not at home, I was in a far away place,” he says. “I had some songs about recollecting home and some songs that take place (in Montreal). I feel like that one I was influenced by living in another country.”
His third album was released in mid-September. “Old World Romance" reflects on moving back home to California after three years in Montreal. It's a mixture of the soft sound from his first album and the more polished, dynamic feel of his second.
"I wrote it during a period of change, and reconnecting with where I’m from: West coast, family, friends."