Locals Only: : Seabird

Indie Rock quartet swims in connections

Apr 21, 2008 at 2:06 pm

Cincinnati's Seabird takes flight with forthcoming major-label CD

I believe that a music zone exists. It's a strange place where beauty hangs out in our hearts, the place where we feel a song's ghetto depth or sweet rise, the moment when a tune makes a certain emotional connection with us. It's a feeling in the chest, a pull and a mystery akin to what might lurk in the depths of the ocean.

Indie Rock band Seabird taps into this audience-artist link, fearlessly diving into both heartache and hope. Delivering tunes about courage, love, loss and redemption, they tackle life's curious waves. Seabird's key-driven Rock is intimate, longing and full of the sounds of high flights and deep seas. The hover, the hook.

We meet at Margarita's for "Taco Tuesdays," as Aaron Morgan (vocals, keys) and Ryan Morgan (guitar) affectionately call their weekly hangout sessions. Aaron has reddish brown hair and his eyes steal a squint when he's amused. Ryan has longer hair and a wider smile, but the brothers share the same coloring.

Although they're quiet souls, Seabird has been anything but quiet lately. Very recently, the band recorded its first video in town with artist Clint Woods. And they've been swimming in fast-leaking success. Swimming freestyle.

Together since 2004, the current lineup also includes Aaron Hunt (drums) and Chris Kubik (bass). Shortly after the band formed, they received key e-mails and praise from Grammy-nominated artist Adrian Belew and Jeff Jackson from Covert Management.

Aaron says, "(Jackson) offered to manage our band for free and help us get signed."

After performing some high-profile showcases in Nashville, by November of 2007, Seabird had signed with Nashville-based Credential Recordings, a subsidiary label to EMI Records.

Ryan says, "At that point, we needed a lot of development. We loved what we did, but we knew we were the kind of guys who needed help. They gave great criticism." Their debut album, 'Til We See the Shore, will be released June 24. The album was produced by industry notables Jacquire King and Allen Salmon. King has worked with Modest Mouse, Tom Waits and Switchfoot. Salmon has worked with Mutemath and The Beautiful Republic, among others.

Aaron says, "We originally felt we wouldn't be able to afford Jacquire King for the entire project, but after our original meeting, he called us saying he would wake up in the middle of the night with our songs in his head ... he enthusiastically offered to do the project with our limited budget. Their production styles were completely different, which made the record that much more interesting and exciting."

Strewn with British influences, Seabird's music holds the echoes of Coldplay and Radiohead, but there's an American structural dynamic that runs throughout it as well.

"There's definitely like a Midwest feel to it." Ryan says. "I don't feel like we really had to compromise our art. It gives me energy when I play it. It's exciting."

On the sound, Aaron says, "For me, it's important to tell a story, but one that requires a listener to dig a little deeper. There are some really dark, difficult subjects in these songs, but I always want the listener to come away with hope. It's important to show vulnerability in the songs. To me, it should be something that everyone can connect with."

"Let Me Go On" shows this connection, revealing the band's decision to let go of their former keyboard player. Aaron sings, "I won't say this lying down." Then he continues to delve into "the struggle of a relationship, letting go of a member, a best friend, right as we were getting signed to a record label. The raw emotion of having to part ways with a best friend and a bandmate."

But now they seem unified. And Seabird has a lot to look forward to: Starting May 2, they perform a string of shows with Atlantic Records' Need to Breathe. Seabird co-wrote "Rescue" with Need to Breathe; the song hit national radio stations last Friday.

With key sponsors already involved, the band plans a local CD release show in the end of June. Promoting the album, they'll tour all summer, playing major music festivals. "We want to connect with the listener," Aaron says. "We want to be on the road doing that every day. How can I impact the audience? How can I make sure they're a part of this? So much of what we do involves the listener."

And Seabird's sounds do call out for attention. "Apparitions" begins with lovely keys, but grows slowly with a strong, wandering Jeff Buckley influence. Smartly using intensity, the lows and highs create a welcome ache. A gliding, spooky journey. A wet butterfly. Winged creatures and rushing water. Close.

SEABIRD's 'Til We See the Shore hits stores June 24. Check myspace.com/seabird for show dates and more.