Interview #14: The Stormy Seas

The Stormy Seas are Edinburgh’s most ramshackle, raucous, fun loving, beer swilling, sea shanty loving, scottish folk rockers.  Their live sets are jam packed with energy and they never fail to impress with their love of playing together as a band.  Unlike most they have carved out their own little niche and get better and better as a band.  Highly under-rated, if there is any justice, 2010 should see their profile and stock rise super fast.  Early demo’s are set to turn into professional recordings and hopefully you’ll be hearing a lot more about them this coming year.  Michael Tovey from the band has kindly taken the time to answer some of my questions in interview number 14 for this blog.  Top bloke.  Enjoy.

TSP:  The Stormy Seas certainly have carved their own little niche in the Edinburgh music scene in their short existence.  How was 2009 for the band and what are the plans for 2010?

MT:  2009 was a really good year. We practised as much as we could, worked on strengthening our set and played plenty of gigs. It was great fun and for most of us in the band our first proper experience of being in a band. The plans for 2010 are the same as 2009 really. Well just keep doing what we do.

TSP:  One thing I’ve always loved about the band is the fact that the ethos always seems to be about enjoying playing music together and anything that comes off the back of that is a bonus.  Do you feel that bands nowadays often lose their focus on what’s really important about being in a band?

MT: We’ve always said that its important to us to just enjoy ourselves and enjoy playing the music and hopefully that fun and passion comes across when we play live. I don’t really think that bands have lost sight of whats important. Its important to focus on making your music as good as it can be (as we do) and to take that kind of thing seriously is no bad thing. I do however prefer watching a band when i know they are enjoying themselves.

TSP:  The EP doing the rounds at the moment is great.  Very rough recordings, but raw and honest.  Are their plans to get something more ‘professional’ down this year and if so do you intend to try and retain the rawness of the current recordings, which seems to set you apart from other artists in the city?

MT:  Yeah we recorded the ep in various living rooms with an eight track. We just wanted to have something to hand out and sell at gigs but the plan is to start recording  something professional very soon. Were just going to start recording and see where it goes and what it becomes. The hope would be to try and retain the energy of the live set without it sounding rough as arses.

TSP:  I recently caught you guys at the Leith Tape Club where you played a much more stripped back set.  What struck me most about the songs were the 3 part harmonies, which shone through and how well the more upbeat numbers translated into a more acoustic set.  Who was that experience for you and are their plans to introduce more acoustic numbers into the full band sets?

MT:  It was really nice to strip down some of our more energetic songs and play about with them.  We have always worked on harmonies but i think it came across more with the stripped down dynamic at the tape club and that is something well probably look to incorporate somewhere into our set.

TSP:  People may not be aware that you used to be one half of the excellent Edinburgh promoters Rubix.  I saw some of my favourite Scottish artists for the first time at your nights.  What was the catalyst for ending the nights and do you miss running them?  Would you ever consider restarting the nights?

MT:  There was a couple of things really that lead to us ending the night. Firstly we had put on every band that we loved and really that was our only reason for running the night. We didn’t want to start putting on bands we wouldn’t normally go and see ourselves just for the sake of keeping it running. We also felt at the time that there was too much competition between the nights that were running at the time and not really much evidence of promoters working together to improve the state of the scene which i think has come along way since. My best friend martin who i ran rubix with has gone on to create sick kids sunday which is going from strength to strength and a few weeks ago boasted one of the best line ups ive ever seen in my life.

TSP:  In terms of venues in Scotland, do you have any particular favourite places to play?

MT:  My favourite venue personally is sneaky petes. Its small dark and when its full it really has a good energy. Ive always tended to prefer the small sweatbox type venues so for me its always going to be the sneakys, henrys and wee red bars of edinurgh over the voodoo rooms and grvs.

TSP:  Scottish music seems to be on the up and up at the moment.  What’s so great about Edinburgh in terms of music?

MT:  I don’t know if there are any more good bands than there has always been, maybe there is. I think we have blogs and websites and papers like the skinny now all talking about how great the scene is where as before it was more just lots of bands playing in venues but nobody was really talking to each other.  The music is amazing right now though. But it always has been in my opinion.

TSP:  Following on from this who are your favourite Scottish artists at the moment and if you had to put on a Rubix night this month, what would be your ideal line up?

MT:  My favourite Scottish bands at the moment and my ideal line up would   basically be the headline acts from sick kids Sunday a few weeks ago.  Woodenbox with a fistful of fivers, sparrow and the workshop and meursault with the inclusion of the wonderful withered hand to round it off.

TSP:  Do you have a record that you could never grow tired of?

MT:  One record i can just listen to again and again is loudon wainright III – Album II.  Motel Blues is one of my favourite songs of all time.

TSP:  Finally, can you tell us the best way to play a tambourine?!

MT:  Well one way not to play a tambourine as our banjo player Dav will tell you is dont bang it really hard off  your thigh repeatedly forgetting that your mobile phone is in your pocket.  Aw dav!