Band of the Week: Sea Wolf

Music Features Sea Wolf
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Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif.
Fun Fact: Jack London’s novel, The Sea-Wolf, inspired the band's moniker. Appropriately, its tour van is named The Ghost, after the ship in the book.
Why Its Worth Watching: Sea Wolf combines the precision, flair and innovation of '60s rock pioneers with a sparse, folk-infused delivery.
For Fans Of: Andrew Bird, The Decemberists, Neutral Milk Hotel, Belle and Sebastian

Alex Brown Church always had a boyhood fascination with wolves

. As time would have it, his intrigue with one of folklore’s central antagonists begged him to create a mythology of his very own via the aural tales eloquently delivered through his alter-ego, Sea Wolf.

Leaves In The River, the band’s full-length debut, is chock full of experience, with songs so descriptive that you can visualize them, feel them and file them into your consciousness long before fully absorbing their content. “I guess it all goes back to that old writing rule that I learned in high school English class: show, don’t tell,” Church says. “I like to put lots of tangible elements into songs. I heard an interview with Tom Waits a while back, and he said he liked his songs to take place in a specific location. I think the same is true of me.”

Church, who describes Sea Wolf’s sound as, “dark, brooding pop with weird, eclectic and acoustic sounds,” has soaked up the culture of both coasts, spending time in New York working on a film degree before returning to California. His project eventually found a home at Dangerbird Records with guidance from his friends in the band Silversun Pickups. Church, who was impressed by Dangerbird's passion, calls the imprint “the small label with big ideas.”

With a deep appreciation for authenticity, the self-proclaimed Bob Dylan junkie claims “there’s no one band, or even two, that I pull the most inspiration from [when writing].” But despite his love of the tangible and his appreciation of the icon musician, Church tries to avoid other people's work while he creates. “[I try] not to listen to music, because I don’t want to be thinking about anyone else’s.”

Sea Wolf’s tour support of Leaves has been interesting, especially in terms of otherworldly inspiration. “I think I came the closest I’ve ever been to believing in ghosts one night in Buffalo,” Church remembers. “We played the Towne Hall, [which has seen the likes of] Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. [The venue] was supposedly a hideout for bootleggers during prohibition. Al Capone himself used to play poker in the basement. [We] got all of these crazy pictures with orbs in them of the most haunted rooms. I really did feel some kind of presence. It was pretty creepy.”

Surely this experience will fit snugly into the Sea Wolf mythology, an evolving storyline that owes as much to the spirits as it does to Robert Zimmerman.