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Sovereign Seas is an alternative rock band from Tempe, Arizona.
For Fans of: Artifex Pereo, Circa Survive
Tempe, Arizona alternative rockers Sovereign Seas have released their blistering debut album ‘Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.’ The album showcases the versatility of these guys in their ability to craft roaring melodies with brutal precision.
I recently interviewed the band to ask them a few questions about the band and the music –
How did you guys come together to form Sovereign Seas? What was the first song (cover or original) that really formulated that ‘ah-ha!’ moment?
A: The band originally started out as a three-piece progressive rock band called “Trilogy”, the original members being Cheney Jones, Kennie Hernandez and Trever Covell.  At the time, Avidan had just left his old band (As Thick As Thieves) when Cheney came to him about jamming.  We really just clicked from the beginning, it was all very natural and the ideas formed fluid and quick.  The first song that really came together as a group was “Heart & Soul”, which originated with the working title “Wookie Goldberg” for the longest time.  H&S was the first song we demoed, and it just felt right.
Shortly after Avi came in, he brought along Kyle Weldon, who also recently left a group and had previously tried starting a project with.  The first song entirely written from start to finish as a five-piece was “Featherweights”, which in some ways shows the growth of the group, and it definitely has a different style and overall feel from the songs written originally when the band was known as Trilogy.
What are some of the primary emotions/themes recurring through the album?

The album is called “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” which is an idiom which means to be “Stuck between two difficult situations”, more or less.
When we started writing, there had been no intention for a “conceptual” album, or an album with a reoccurring theme. It just so happened that at that time, I (Avi) was going through a number of personal crises. When I took a step back and reviewed over the lyrics I had for the first half of the album, I noticed a theme.  Each song had a particular sort of negativity harbored. Whether it was songs about failed love, insomnia or generally feeling as if everyone is against you in a sort of paranoid manic way.  The idiom that inevitably became the album name just seemed so fitting; The Devil was represent the inner turmoil, the darkest sides of your mind – Whereas the Deep Blue Sea was the world around us, that daily grind, that never-ending blue that just can feel so vast overwhelming.  Once the idea was solidified, the themes of the album began to fall in place. In many ways, it felt like my subconscious was trying to form the theme before I even knew it.
So, basically the album is the course of ones life, a particularly troubled life where you may feel stuck. Those bad thoughts keep you up, they fester and twist your mind and then they carry over to world outside.  And the world outside only feeds your bad thoughts. The people you love stop loving you, your friends become enemies, etc. Near the last portion of the album, there is this somber sigh of acceptance of sorts and a hint towards possible resolution.  “Me, Alone” and “Body & Bones” act as the climax of the play. “Me, Alone” was written as a reminder for myself that you don’t need another person’s touch, words or emotions to feel worthy.  You don’t need anyone – in the best way possible, not in a spiteful way. And “Body & Bones” is supposed to be that finale, the subject of life as learned their own value, yet is selfless.  They are torn down, but weightless. They are no longer afraid of their own mind, and they are able to look at the world and not see an overwhelming blue mass but a beautiful portrait.
What song or songs have the most emotional weight to them from the album?
I feel that “Featherweights” and “Me, Alone” are particularly heavy in their emotions.  Ironically, they have the same muse and were written almost a year a part.
Featherweights is a love song in its purest form, it doesn’t aim to be anything more than that. Its painting the muse as this “bigger-than-life-itself” sort of entity, which all lovers tend to do when they want to be romantic. In the moment, you see them as the end all, be all. Your endgame, your moon and stars, they are the reason the waves come closer. I think the songs captured that drama and poetry.
And then there is “Me, Alone”. It’s minimalist and it’s sort of the yang to Featherweight.  Where Featherweights is warm and loving, Me, Alone is sort of cold and feels distant.  The repetition of the lyrics is sort of like someone muttering to themselves, frantically in trying to cope with whatever trauma make have just occurred.  In this case, it’s the loss of the muse from Featherweights.
So, for me anyways. Those two are the heaviest in emotional content. Oh, and Pyro because it’s about sex. And fire.
How does the imagery of the album cover reflect the music?
The album art was done by our friend, Forrest Wright. He is a tremendously talented artist and we highly recommend him.  We came with him with the concept, it was very literal. We wanted a big blue sea. We wanted the waves to be crashing upon a lighthouse. No stars in the sky, no moon, even the light house had gone out. When you see the cover, you almost want to see the sadness there.  It’s kind of grim, It kind of looks like a storm is coming.  Forrest just took our very simple idea and made it so beautiful and deeper than we could have even hoped for.
The independent music scene has grown immensely in the last few years with the growth of technology. Do you think you would have pursued this path if self-releasing your material was not an option?
The making of this album as an independent band was definitely a learning process. The first song we tracked for the album was tracked in February of 2013, and good portion of the album was tracked later that year. So this album has been in the works for quiet a while and it has been written entirely by ourselves. We tracked all ten songs with Matt Keller from Lydia.
The songs were all written away from the studio though, we didn’t want a “producer” for the album, we wanted to “produce” ourselves with Matt acting as the engineer. So, the album is very much exactly what we wrote in a room together, very little changes from the original bones.
I think regardless of any scenario, we were hellbent on releasing this album and releasing it sounding a way we wanted.  And because we self-released this album, we’ve been allowed a great deal of freedom and that’s really nice as a band that puts a lot of emphasis of the art aspect.


If your songs were turned into a movie, what kind of scenes would play out to them?
I’d imagine the movie would be a bit like “Donnie Darko”. Sort of small budget, practical but with a really intricate plot. Something you have to watch over and over again to make sense of, and even then you just sort of don’t know. And at the end, you aren’t sure if you’re happy or really sad.
What would be your ultimate band to go on tour with?
Circa Survive or The 1975 are big influences across all the members so anything with them on the bill would be unreal. Taking Back Sunday is also a teenage staple for most of us so anything with them or related to them would be awesome.

What are your favorite things to do in Arizona when you’re not playing music?
Stay indoors because the sun is Satan.  Summers are hard because it gets so unbearably hot. There’s usually some pretty solid bands that roll through here so good shows aren’t too hard to find.
What were some of your favorite concerts that you’ve attended in Tempe?
Avi: Coheed and Cambria with The Blood Brothers when I was 15.. This was back in the day and I just remember being the biggest fan of the Blood Brothers and thinking how the tour must have been designed just for me. It seemed like such an impossible tour pairing and it was beautiful. I cried during The Blood Brothers.
Kyle: Say Anything played a show at the Marquee a couple years ago that was part of a tour where they focused on playing only their B-Sides and it was one of the best I’ve been to, probably due in part to the fact that it was inside and not part of a hot outside festival. I’ve been to a whole lot that I could list but that one stands out to recent memory.
Who are some of your favorite local or independent bands that you think people should also be listening to?
You can pick any local band and hear something new and awesome. I don’t want to name any names because I don’t want to leave anyone out. But seriously, pick any band from Arizona right now and I’m sure you’ll find something really awesome and different.

Thanks for the interview guys!


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