McAllen, Texas’ Sick/Sea last visited Dayton in September 2012, just prior to the October release of Moral Compass, their first effort for Autumn + Colour Records. Dedicating themselves to a vigorous touring schedule, and with a fresh release under their belts, the band spent the final months of 2012 making waves with their multi-genre blending sound, and is busy preparing for and anticipating their first winter tour.
The band’s sound, which puts them in league with contemporaries like Copeland, Eisley and Dear and the Headlights, combines moments of indie rock, jazz and hardcore, creating a distinct and succinctly mature sound. Their songs are songs of life and love, not destruction or despair, and the reverb-laden opuses set the tone for dynamic drumming and jazz-like bass riffs.
Ghettoblaster caught up with vocalist Audrey Scott to discuss Moral Compass, being in a band with her brother (Cameron Scott), touring and what they like about Dayton (Ghettoblaster’s homebase).
Moral Compass was your first for Autumn + Color; how did you decide they were the right label for Sick/Sea?
We’re still a pretty young band and to get approached by a label was very exciting. We were at a point where we were ready to record our next EP, but were being held back by financing issues. We didn’t have the money to do it, and we were going to wait a year, keep playing shows, and save up the money to record. Then they came at us and they were really, really awesome guys. They told us that they only wanted to work with bands who are good people and work hard. It seemed like a perfect fit. They’re a growing label, so we thought the arrangement of us helping them and them helping us was the natural choice. So we signed with them and we don’t regret it at all. We were able to get into the studio within two months of signing. Since then we’ve been touring a lot, and people have been paying attention to us. So it’s been really great.
Most of the press for the band has put emphasis on the fact that you are a genre defying band. Is there one person from the band who is driving this eclectic approach to the way you write music?
Our song writing started off with my brother and I – he plays drums – and I was just writing folk songs. But he’s a drummer to the core and he likes playing all different styles. He doesn’t like to play the same beat for an entire song. When he approached me about playing my songs, it really added this diverse flavor to them. He brought out parts that I didn’t know where in them. From there we kept writing songs that all seem to be different genres, but that have a constant theme to them. It is nice to have a sound that is unique, but cohesive at the same time.
Is there a theme within Moral Compass that ties the record together?
Yes. It is a display of my life within a tour year span of time. It touches on everything I went through, but the theme is really discovering myself and trying to figure out what I want in life. It is also me trying to figure out how not to control things too much, but letting my moral compass guide me rather than some self-imposed rulebook that I set for myself a long time ago.
In the past you’ve been compared to Nico Case and Elizabeth Elmore. Are they influences for you?
I don’t know if I’ve ever heard either of their music. Our predominant influences are everything that we’ve heard in our lives. But there are some bands that we’ve really held onto. When we were learning music there were some bands that stuck with us like Copeland, Regina Spektor, Underoath, a lot of different types of music.
I like that Copeland song that goes, “You were walking downtown…”
Yeah, “Downtown,” is a good song. I saw them at their farewell concert and they played all their old material. It was really good.
Is there a degree of comfort in doing the band with your brother or have you ever had sibling rivalry problems?
No, we have this bizarre ability to get along. We’ve always shared the music we discovered with each other, and bounced bands off each other. We grew up with similar music taste. It was really fun to have someone to share your new favorite band with and to have them love it as well. That’s how we got so close musically. And it brought us closer in every other aspect. We had the same friends, we spent a lot of time together, and we learned how to work through our issues.
One the road sometimes we annoy each other every now and then. Like on our first night of tour he said, “Audrey, can I talk to you outside?” I was like, “Oh great.” We argued, but agreed I’ll work on this, you work on that, and we felt better by the end. We know how to compromise, and not to be selfish. It was a good lesson to learn early on, even for life in general.
Are you ever a wing woman for him? For instance, you’ve just played a rock show and this loose woman ambles up and tries to get his attention…
(Laughter) My brother is able to take care of himself. And he feels the same about me. If anything, he’s the one who protects me. He’s outgoing and honest. He’s not afraid to tell someone how he feels…in a nice way. He’s not rude. He’s a nice Christian. So if some skanky girl came up to him he’d treat her nicely, as he would any other human. He’s got a good head on his shoulders.
What was the experience of doing the video for “Robot” like?
That was one of the most fun things we’ve done as a band. That house we were at is one of our favorite venues. The people at that house are awesome. They feel like family to us. We were sitting in their garden, and we had a day off, so we thought, “we should make a music video here.” And usually when you come up with an idea like that, you’re like, “yeah, yeah,” and then the idea loses steam. But as we told people, we kept coming up with ideas, and it was getting really exciting, so we decided we have to do this…we can’t let this opportunity pass us by. So we picked up the camera and a flashlight and mapped out the route for the music video. I think it was three takes for each part of the video. So, three long shots. We got the crowd for the show that night involved and it turned out really well. We are really proud of it.
Coming from a place like Texas, where Winters aren’t that bad, are you nervous about doing a Winter tour in the northern states?
Yes. Our families are all worried for us too. We are already a pretty careful band. We drive slow with the trailer and we have a sleeping routine to ensure that the driver is always well-rested. We are pretty cautious. So, one of the guys we’re bringing with us this tour has travelled with a band through snow storms, and he has a lot of knowledge and experience. He’s been packing flares and stuff like that. So we feel pretty prepared, although I’m sure nothing can totally prepare us for it. I’ve never driven in snow. We’ll be going to Michigan and upstate New York. We’re hoping for the best, and we’ll take as many precautions as possible. If every other band can do it, we can do it too I think. We don’t want to let something like that hold us back. We’re one of the only tour bands from our area and for a lot of other bands, their dream is to tour but they can’t do it because that stuff seems impossible. So we just have to get out and do it. We’ve been asking our friends for advice and they’ve been good enough to give it.
Have you had any harrowing experiences on the road?
Um…nothing too crazy. We’ve had some nights where we needed a place to stay and some drunk people invited us to stay with them…the night typically goes downhill from there. But nothing really life threatening. We’ve been really lucky in that sense.
I get the impression from your Facebook page that you guys love coffee and might be foodies. Do you have special stops planned on the tour to get that great meal or drink?
Well, one of the things that hold us back is money. We are trying to spend what we make on gas, but sometimes we come across a kind hearted person who will treat us to a delicious meal that represents their area. We’re in New Orleans right now and our friend took us to eat at Mother’s where we had po’ boys and seafood gumbo and it was amazing. It is awesome to have unique food experiences.
The coffee thing is heart wrenching because I want to go into every coffee shop, but a latte is $5 bucks and that is like two meals for us. Every now and then I’ll splurge. I went to a place in Nashville that was amazing. I’d love to stop at Intelligencia in Chicago, because they have the best coffee.
What is your go-to drink?
I like lattes. I manage a coffee shop at home, so when I’m working I’ll usually get an Americano or black coffee. If I want to splurge I’ll get a latte.
It is fortunate for us that Dayton has made your routing over a larger Ohio city. And you’ve been here before. What was your previous experience like here?
I remember that Dayton is one of the most beautiful areas I’ve been to. I’m from deep south Texas where it is very hot and humid most of the year. There’s not a big art scene. There’s not a lot going on. It is growing, but it’s not Austin. I always keep my radar on for cities that would be nice to move to and I remember Dayton was high on that list. When I was little I always wanted a forest in my yard and places to explore and Dayton has beautiful scenery. And everyone we met there was really nice. The guys we stayed with loved Dayton and they were telling us about all the great music that has come from the area. We had no idea. It seems like such a small, quaint city.
(For more information and to hear music, visit: www.facebook.com/SickSea.)