In a realm saturated with regurgitations and ‘same old’ releases every month, By The Sea’s latest collaboration really shakes the music scene up, on a cosmic scale. The Wirral-based four-piece – featuring Liam Power on vocals and guitar, Steven Campbell on guitar, Andrew Royden on drums, and Christopher Pickering on bass – have a history of compiling tracks that don’t stick to the norm.
This is a band working very much towards their own agenda, tying up songs that span dreamy pop to synth kaleidoscopes, with the likes of the haunting ‘I See a Crystal Sky’ and the ethereal echo of ‘Heaven Knows Magnolia’.
Teaming up with the author Austin Collings – who co-authored Renegade: The Lives & Tales of Mark E. Smith, centred on the Mancunian songwriter and musician – and artist Jason Vaughan, the band are set to drop their newest collaborative creation: Blade Jogger.
With an undeniable political undercurrent running through it, the 22-minute raw narrative (spoken by James Stannage) is a switched-on statement aimed at the current state of the nation, but also an escapist whirlwind of otherworldly existential thoughts.
The creators ask you to envisage a world that has fallen into an electronic slum, where a new drug – SWENDAB – is doing the rounds, sending the narrator, GAZ-15 (an ‘ex-bouncer/ex-lover/full-time-fuck-up’), into a monstrous cycle trapped inside his own fragile psyche.
The resentment and vehemence is present in Stannage’s voice, as the impassioned narrative runs its course. Juxtaposed against the synthy pop of By The Sea, the piece is one that’s yearning to be listened to, considered, mulled over, and returned to when the going gets tough.
We spoke to By The Sea’s Liam Power, and the Blade Jogger wordsmith, Austin Collings, about the influences of their newest project and the topics that are most important to them at the moment.
How much do you feel current politics influenced Blade Jogger?
LP: For me, only that it’s an escape from it. Roy Batty for Prime Minister!
AC: As a kid, my mum used to hand me and my sister rolled-up socks to throw at the TV whenever Margaret Thatcher’s ginger-reptilian mug appeared. I’d like the think if I had a child in the current climate I’d hand him/her a one-way train ticket to London and enough taxi-fare to the Houses of Parliament, and a fully-loaded .44 Magnum Revolver to blast Teresa May back to her beloved wheat field (I’d also give him/her a little extra for some lunch). In no way do I advocate impulsive gun-use, but the cranks are right: in the right hands – like the hands of my imaginary child, for instance – they have their place.
What messages do you want listeners to take away from Blade Jogger?
LP: Embrace the unusual. Bring back weird. You might not listen to it in your car on the way to work, but there’s always a room somewhere after hours with a record player.
AC: Mixed, very mixed messages pertaining to the chaos theory of violence and silence. The only truly alien planet is Earth.
Who did you make Blade Jogger for?
LP: Sci-fi geeks. Synth nerds. Anyone who enjoys a drug-fuelled monologue at 2am.
AC: People with a sense of adventure, who understand that the narrative landscape has altered drastically over the past decade. We’re living in the age of the chemical crisis, from Spice addition to Vegan superiority, with the drug of ill-defined political beliefs sandwiched in the middle like Spinal Tap’s proverbial Shit Sandwich or a Tuna Mayonnaise M&S rip-off packet sandwich. Time to ditch the standard ‘record’ and lay down documents that reflect the new fall of woe-man. The world is flowering into life-sized scores. Blade Jogger is the most important release this side of Chopin and the Doctor Who theme tune.
Since the release comes with a mini comic-book-style booklet…How important do you think the relationship between music and art is? And how would you describe Blade Jogger; as a story or a piece of music, or something else entirely?
LP: Massively. For me [the inclusion of the comic book] just strengthens how the record plays out in your mind’s eye, and it adds another level of wonderment. I like that something carries on after the music’s ended.
AC: Something else entirely. I see the record as a graph of an unresolved mental crisis, set to music. But, then again, it is nothing without the artwork of Jason Vaughan. His is the parent’s hand that puffs up the pillow when adolescent illness KOs our small souls.
What did you think of the Blade Runner sequel, Blade Runner 2049?
LP: Brilliant! A modern masterpiece, albeit long. I can’t wait to watch the inevitable four different cuts that come out in years to come.
AC: Magnificent! It took guts to make the original and those same guts are on brave display this time round. Who would have thought at the start of the year that [the new] Twin Peaks would be such an indulgent let-down and Blade Runner 2049 such a stunning spectacle?
Blade Jogger is officially set for release on 12” vinyl on 15th December. Produced by Bil Ryder-Jones, the album-cum-art-piece can be purchased through War Records and includes a 16-page booklet of comic-book-style illustrations and the full script.
The release will be publicly aired at a special launch night event on 16th December at Make. North Docks on Regent Street in Liverpool, featuring DJ sets and performances from a series of additional musicians.
Follow By The Sea on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date with all of their latest musical releases and collaborations. Listen to the band’s previous tracks through Soundcloud and download their music on iTunes.