By The Sea

Blind faith: Liverpool’s kings of dream pop on why Argos made them start a band
By Matthew Liam Fogg | Music | 14 April 2015
Photography Amy Gwatkin
Fashion Vincent Levy.

By The Sea shot by Amy Gwatkin for HERO 12: Darkness Falls

Top image left to right: Dan wears coat by DIOR HOMME S15; shirt from LEVI’S; his own t-shirt, trousers and shoes; Liam wears jacket by McQ BY ALEXANDER McQUEEN SS15; his own t-shirt and trousers; Mark wears jacket by STONE ISLAND SS15; his own sweater, trousers and shoes

Taken from HERO 12: Darkness Falls

Writing standout songs is only half the battle when you are a band hailing from Merseyside. Being journalistically pitted against Liverpool’s masterful musicians of the last few decades makes it no easy feat for new artists.

Fortunately, for Wirral-based By The Sea, long days and late nights honing their dreamlike guitar-pop meant their eponymous debut LP broke the banks of the river Mersey, elevating them from locality and gaining them appraisal from all manner of press. “I think it’s because you get unfairly pegged with the 60s revivalist thing when you’re from in and around Liverpool,” indicates frontman Liam Power. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing necessarily, but when you aren’t consciously adhering to that sound it is as if people haven’t really listened to the songs.”

A passionate belief in his own material has ensured Power has always overlooked potential comparative restraints and set about curating a melodic variety of songs where ethereal instrumentals are cut through by floating vocals and rounded with enriching choruses. Whilst all of this makes for enticing listening, it wasn’t all plain sailing during the formative process of By The Sea’s first release. “The first album was a proper labour of love. It seemed to take forever to do, as we didn’t really have any monetary backing. We had this beg, steal, borrow thing going on,” recalls Power. “We’ve always had a sense of ‘This is what we’ve got; let’s record as much of it as we can, with whoever we can, for as little money as possible’.”

A certain whoever was found in fellow Wirral musician Bill Ryder- Jones, who consequently undertook a noticeable role in By The Sea’s recently released follow up LP Endless Days, Crystal Sky. “He’s a mate and lives down the road and I suppose he was practically a member of the band at the time; in terms of playing in his studio at his Mum’s house and all of the input he put into it there and at Parr Street Studios,” recounts Power.

Aside from collaborations with local boy Ryder-Jones, By The Sea’s decision to record at Liverpool’s iconic Parr Street Studios, which boasts previous clients such as Echo and the Bunnymen and New Order, has given them the advantage. Whilst the melodious appeal remains in their second LP, there’s an indisputably bigger sound to be experienced, with synths lining the fore of their more driving rhythm, making for some truly uplifting crescendos. “We wanted to arrange things a little differently,” says Power of the musical shift. “You know,

like, The Strokes’ first two albums are practically the same, which isn’t a bad thing as they’re perfect at what they do, but for us we needed to change it up. I think for the third album we’ll change it up again.”

If you find talk of a third album hasty, take note that By The Sea aren’t a group for hanging around. Power’s will to be heard goes beyond simply recording songs. “We didn’t want to spend a year or more waiting for things to come out, so we found a way to cut corners,” he teases. “If someone else isn’t going to pick up your stuff, then you’ve just got to do it yourself.”

Enter their own label War Room Records, on which Endless Days, Crystal Sky became the introductory release. “We’d had the tunes for a year or so and there’s only so much gigging you can do,” reasons Power. Where does this motivation come from? “Blind faith. Boredom. Avoiding having to work in Argos. It’ll just hit after a week or so without playing; then we’ll be in the practice room every night until 3am. It’s become habitual now.”

By The Sea’s second album Endless Days Crystal Sky is out now on War Room Records. Find them at their BandCamp and follow them on Facebook and Twitter, and check out the playlist the band made for us recently here

Additional image credits: Photo assistant NATHAN CHANDLER; special thanks to CAMP AND FURNACE


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