Not many bands make it to double-figures while still sounding completely fresh and energised, but in a months time The Sea and Cake drop their new LP Runner, their 10th release. Working out new ways of playing with ideas and demo’s, frontman Sam Prekop build the foundations for the record on his own and then handed it over to the rest of the band to chop, change and add various textures and tones. The result is a record that stands as a glowing testament to all that has come before; dreamy instrumentals, laid-back pulses of electronica and their strongest vocals to-date.
We caught up with Sam to find out a little more about it the record and its influences and inspirations…
Hi, and welcome back! How has the Summer been treating you?
The summer’s been great, very busy with my 4 year-old twins.
The new record drops in just over a month; what can we expect from it?
I’m really excited about this record, and can’t believe it’s our 10th release! I feel that it really reflects our long career while sounding quite new, there are some familiar strategies but a lot of new territory for us as well. I really got further into the vocals this time out. There are a lot of new ideas with regards to harmonies, intricate phrasing, etc. but also more direct as well.
According to the biog, “Runner began as the companion piece to The Moonlight Butterfly” – what brought about the change from companion piece to stand-alone record?
New records usually deal with the one you made last time, but with The Butterfly I felt it could have gone further and wanted to continue with it’s trajectory, so that was the intention, a way to start. But with every new record I hope it ends up sounding not anything like what you were going for. It’s a process of setting up situations for new ideas to happen. Follow unexpected directions.
With that in the mind, did the writing/recording process differ much from your previous work?
A big difference this time out was that I pushed the demos of the songs much further along to completion than before. Not quite intentionally but that’s how it worked out, schedule wise. In a way I felt a version of the record was complete before the rest of the band even heard it. Of course it changed completely once everyone contributed, but I think as a result the record feels quite different.
Do you have a personal favourite track on the record?
I’d have to say Pacific with The Runner a close second. The vocals on Pacific, I feel, are my most ambitious to-date, I really felt I was hitting on something new, for me anyway, sort of R&B influenced without copping it as a stylist. At least I hope and think. The vocals are quite intricate without being precious. It was really fun to develop the peculiar counterpoint singing on crazy off-beats etc.
Were there any major/specific influences on Runner, either musically or lyrically?
As mentioned before I have 4 year-old twins and, while I’m not one to tailor lyrics to specific topics per se, I certainly feel they have made their mark on this record, especially with the song Harbor Bridges which is in my mind dedicated to them. The record also, I feel, has a childrens story/music quality to it without actually making a chilldrens record of course. But there’s an aesthetic kinship somehow.
What inspires your song-writing the most?
My approach is to work and see what happens, the whole process is a wonderful puzzle of sorts, and the results are the decisions and choices made along the way. All sorts of influences from other music is there, via osmosis primarily. I never feel like I need to reflect an influence in a real direct way, it’s more interesting for me to see what comes about automatically.
Are you looking forward to playing the new album live? Do you think it will translate well to the live stage?
I am, it’s always exciting to come up with a new show. I’m not sure yet which songs off Runner are going to make the set, but probably half of them. The rest of the show will cover our whole career.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
I’ll be touring quite a bit. I have a drawing show with archer and eric in France this fall. I have a soundtrack record coming out in January, so yes pretty busy.
Thanks for your time.
Runner is released on September 17th via Thrill Jockey.
Interview by Tom Johnson