July 2002 - SEA OF GREEN
Canada, the land of lakes and endless forests...but also a country where a lot of new bands have started off in the last years. On of them is SEA OF GREEN. A few years ago, they have shown the people with their "Northern Lights" CD-EP that they've got the ability to create a sort of very melodic and sensible heavy rock without following the typical trends. With the debut on Rise Above they have opened the next chapter of their own musical history. So I've contacted Eric Kuthe, who owns the small label 12th Planet Music together with his wife and he told me about the first SoG UK-tour, his secret Ozzy-identity, the label and more so it's up to you to read this interview.
Hello Eric, nice to welcome you in the Cosmic Lava webzine! FIrst off, what's going on with SEA OF GREEN right now? You've toured the UK this year and why didn't you come over to other European countries?
The UK tour actually fell right in the middle of pre-production for our new up-coming CD that we are working on. Our producer, Nick Blagona, thought it was a great idea to go over and try out some of the new material before recording it and see the crowd response. It went great to say the least hahaha So the CD will be finished by the end of July, I'm not sure when it will come out as we have lots of major label interest right now so wait and see what happens. That's also why we didn't stay over and do a big Euro tour as we had to get back and start recording.
Could you tell us sometthing about the small tour in the UK? How much people visited the shows?
The UK tour was a blast!!! We toured with MARSHAN from Galsgow who are great guys and kick ass live too. They were fun to hang with, we had lots of laughs and fun shit happened everyday...but hey, that's touring right hahaha The crowds varied in size from 10 people (only once thanks God) to over 200 one night and everything in between. The crowds were all very receptive though, they really dug the vibe!
I think, it was your first tour in Europe, so it must be an interesting experience for the band. What was one of the important things for you that you've learned from it and is there something that you'll avoid next time?
YES, I would desperately try to avoid getting drunk too early in the day hahahaha I would start the morning off with a few pints of Guinness hahaha The beer over there was outstanding man.
How did you get the chance for this tour? Was one of the reasons, that you've released your last album "Time to Fly" on the UK-based label Rise Above Records, too? Have Lee and Will planned all tour-dates?
Actually Graeme from MARSHAN was really instrumental in setting up the tour with a booker named Jose. Rise Above didn't really get involved but Dream Catcher, who distributes the CD in Europe, paid for an ad in Terroizor and set us up with CDs when we got over there for a great price.
I've mentioned your last album "Time to Fly" . Although it's a little bit older, it's well worth to talk about. One thing that I like is the very balanced and friendly vibe of all songs and for me, it's far away of this mass of uninspired fuzzy sabbatish-sounding bands you find today. What do you think of the album, when you listen to it today?Is it important for you to create an individual sound?
Time To Fly was recorded back in September 2000 and written over that year. It really just reflected the vibe we were on at that point in time in our lives and for us it was a sort of exciting surreal time, getting signed and everything, so I think that came out in the music. We just do what we do and we're glad people are liking it hahaha Actually back in January we had to let go of Chris Bender who drummed on the first two CDs due to creative differences and we now have our long time friend Matt Dowd in the band. So once again, the new music is quite different then anything we've done before. Travis and I were always into heavier music than Chris was, I'm talking about stuff like Deftones, Incubus, TOOL, Stereomud....bands like that. The new songs are heavier, that doesn't mean fuzzy though hahaha, and more mature and focused. I'm also singing a lot more and my voice is very low and rasspy which is a great contrast to Travis' surreal angelic voice. Listen to song #8 "Long Time Coming" off of Time To Fly to see what I mean. I sing the verses and he sings the chorus.....we're doing a lot more of that sort of thing now.
You've worked together with producer Nick Blagona, who has worked together with bands like Deep Purple, Nazareth or The Police in the past. Why have you chosen him and how did you get together with Nick?
He was a good friend of mine before we started working with him so he was the obvious and best choice. Most bands at the beginning level aren't lucky enough to even work with a producer at all so we were honored and felt privileged. His vast knowledge and ideas are mind boggling, and his rock & roll stories about the bands he's work with are hilarious. I love working with Nick and we are definitely friends for life!
A few years ago SoG has been released the "Northern Lights" CD-EP on the NY-based label Music Cartel? What do you think is the difference between the EP and the full-length?
The songs on Northern Lights were mostly written by me over the previous 5 years while I was in a band called KUTHE with my brother. Just riffs and ideas that I wrote that never got used in the KUTHE stuff. Time To Fly was definitely more of a group effort. And we had a lot more time to write and record which was nice too.
"Time to Fly" was not only released on Music Cartel. For the European customers it has also been released on Rise Above. I think, you've done this step for a better distribution?
Lee Dorrian really digs our band and we've struck up a cool friendship of sorts over the last 3 years. We finally met when we played London and got totally trashed together hahahaha. Rise Above would have released Northern Lights as well but it was an EP and they didn't feel it would profitable enough I guess? Fair enough hahah .And of course the distribution is better this way which is great!
The album cover is very beautiful with the seagull on front and the deep blue background. What is the idea behind it? Does it symbolize something special for the band?
We wanted the CD artwork to reflect the fact that we felt that our music was finally going to have a better chance to reach more people. And it was an important CD in terms of trying to follow Northern Lights which got rave review internationally. Sort of like when a mother bird pushes the little birds out of the nest...it was our time to fly hahaha
There's a cover-version of Pink Floyd's "Breathe" on the album? What was the reason for this choice?
Well The Music Cartel was suppose to be putting out a Pink Floyd tribute CD but I have no idea whatever happened to that idea? It was recorded for the tribute CD but we thought it would also fit our own CD so we put it on. Thank God we did or it may have lost as I don't think this tribute is coming out anymore? But I'm not really sure, it would be awesome if it did as I love Pink Floyd.
What is more important for you: the sound and the arrangement or the lyrics? How does SoG write the songs? Is everybody of the band involved in this process?
Everything is very important but we don't get too anal about things. You can feel when things work and when they don't. I would say that I am the main song writer with my partner in crime, Travis, right there with me. I think I definitely write the most lyrics, it just works out that way hahaha With Matt in the band now, the new drummer, we finally have a third writing partner who is on the same page so now we have so many ideas and variables to choose from it's very exciting.
In one of the questions above I've mentioned, that SoG isn't that typical fuzzy sabbathish-sounding band.I think, there's more in it. Something that I would describe as an British 60's/70's Psyche-Rock influend mixed up with a bit of "Alternative" Rock. What do you think about my statement and can you agree?
I would say that I agree with you. Travis and I, as the main song writers, grew up hearing our parents playing great bands like Led Zeppelin, Grand Funk, The Beatles, Hendrix, Sabbath, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep etc etc etc so all that stuff is in our subconscious'. Travis and I also both loved a lot of the same bands when we were old enough to buy our own music like KISS, Van Halen, Motely Crue and then the Grunge thing came along with Alice In Chains and Soundgarden followed by our love Kyuss, Fu Manchu etc. Even though we grew up in different cities we grew up on the same music man and it all comes out in what we do. Mix in the new bands like Deftones, Incubus, QOTSA etc and here we are in 2002 hahahaha Matt was on the same page in life the whole time too so he's the perfect drummer for this band.
Aside of the band you've got your own small label 12th Planet Music. When have you founded it and what was the reason for this descision?
It was founded in 1999 to release our Sea Of Green demo. From there I met so many great bands on the road that I wanted to get involved and help out, learn the business from the inside out. It has been very enlightening in both good and bad ways hahaha
Is it right, that your wife Melody is also involved in the label and are there any other people who are helping you?
My wife Melody is my Sharon Osbourne hahahaha without her I'd be in a gutter somewhere hahahaha She is very instrumental in the company.......more so than me on a day to day basis. I really just pick the bands to sign.....like an A&R rep I guess.
Please, give us an insight in the label philosophy .Which bands have you signed until now and what is important for you, if you want to sign a new band?
We've signed Greenwood, Burnout, Souldivider, Iron Giant and now Shard from Germany. I pick bands whose CDs jump out at me right away, something in the songs, the groove, the vibe. Vocals are important too and I'm not a fan of the cookie monster style of stoner vocals a lot of bands use...the raaa raaa ahhhhhh raaaa stuff hahaha There has to be some substance! And each band is a gem, they're each different from one another, no 2 bands are the same on the label yet they're all cut for the same cloth.
You live in Canada, where in the last thirty years some good and original heavy bands have started out. It goes from 70's acts as Ellison or Mahogany Rush to 80's Metal as Voi Vod or early Punk (Subhumans,DOA) to 90's Rock band as Sons Of Otis or the Canadian version of Sabbath called Sheavy just to name a few. Do you feel inspired by the early Candian 70's acts and how is the relation to bands as Sons Of Otis or Sheavy?
Well I'm good friend with the guys in OTIS as we all live and hang out downtown. They're really cool guys man, and they love the bongs I'll tell ya hahahaha I've emailed Ren from Sheavy a few times but never seem to get a response? As for older Canadian bands, the biggest influence, that you left out, was RUSH. A great all around band, amazing song writers, great lyrics...and I've met them all and they are super nice people too. I also know Jeff Martin from The Tea Party quite well as Nick Blagona works with his band as well as ours, very talented song writer. Check them out 100% There's also a great new Toronto stoner band called Scuzzy who rock and a band called Kybosh too.
I think, it must be great to live in a country as Canada, when you love nature. There's everything from ice and snow to huge forests with bears and other animals and there are some big lakes and mountains. Do you enjoy living there or are my impressions more a cliche? Where exactly do you live, Eric?
Toronto is the biggest city in Canada, over 7 million I believe? I grew up right downtown in China town hahaha but all you have to do is drive one hour North and you're in the most beautiful nature. 3-5 hours and you're in Bear territory hahaha Ontario, which is the Province, is filled with loads of small lakes and rivers, there's also some cool beaches on the larger lakes too. I love it here, it's very free.
Have you any other interests aside of the band and the label? Do like watching movies or taking a walk outside to enjoy nature? Please, give us an insight in your daily life ?
My life pretty much revolves around music everyday waking moment of my life. I wake up, turn on the stereo and do my 1 hour vocal practice while I work out a bit. Then it's either rehearsing with the band or promoting the band over the net. I also have a 6 year old son, David, who is the world to me....so when he's back from school he gets all my attention as well as my beautiful wife Melody and we have a crazy 1 year old black Lab named Luna who is like 75 pounds...a big crazy dog hahaha....and a black cat named Sabbath hahaha So I'm the musical family man hahaha I'm glad that I can balance the two life styles as well as I do but like I said in an earlier answer it's thanks to Melody "Sharon Osbourne" hahaha. She puts up with my numerous addictions and catches me when I fall too deep.
We reached the end of our interview and I like to close with the usual interesting question about the future plans of SEA OF GREEN and 12th Planet Music?
WORLD DOMINATION hahaha lear jets, limos, sports cars and homes around the world. Hey, you never know right??? hahahaha ...
Thanks a lot for your answers! Anything you like to add at least?
Yes, we will be touring Germany and maybe other Euro countires this fall with SHARD so visit our web site at www.seaofgreenrocks.com for news on all that. And go to www.12thplanetmusic.com to buy some killer CDs from some great bands. Support rock & roll!!! Peace Eric