Sea Wolf's traveling man

November 01, 2007|By Sam Sessa | Sam Sessa,Sun Reporter

As a child, singer/guitarist Alex Brown Church traveled continuously.

Church saw Hawaii, Alaska and even lived in a tent in France for about a year with his mother. Vivid images of people and places from his past formed the foundation for songs on Leaves in the River, the first full-length album for his band Sea Wolf.

On and off stage, Church usually keeps a stoic expression on his angular, slightly scruffy face. Tomorrow, he and the other members of Sea Wolf come to the 8x10, opening for Nada Surf. Touring with the band has allowed Church to continue his travels, which inspire his music, he said.

How does traveling affect your music?

I've never really thought of it as something that shaped me, but now that I'm playing music for a living, I realized that if I didn't do that growing up, I don't know if I could do it now. It's a difficult lifestyle - traveling a lot. But it's something I thrive on.

Do you write about experiences in certain cities, or do you blend places together in your music?

Both. A lot of the songs are autobiographical, or semi-autobiographical. A lot of them are about being at home as well. I just kind of write about where I am at that moment, or wherever I'm thinking about at the moment.

Sometimes I'll be home writing about a memory of a trip I just had. But usually, a lot of it comes from the past. I pull from not only the recent past, but also the past past. I use a lot of the imagery from trips and places I go, and I like to create a sense of place in my songs.

When did you come up with the songs for this album?

I started writing Sea Wolf songs about five or six years ago, way before Sea Wolf even existed. I had this idea of another project I wanted to do. I started writing songs for it, even though I didn't know what it would end up being.

Do you just write the core of the songs, or do you write all of the instrumentation as well?

I write a lot of the parts. But everybody that's played on the record has written their own parts with a little bit of guidance from me. They would write something, and I would say, "Oh, I don't like this part, but let's do this thing twice." You could say I had my hand in pretty much all the parts in the record but didn't write all the parts.

And you keep the lineup changing?

I don't know if Sea Wolf is going to stay just me or if it's going to end up being more of a band project. Things just started happening really fast. Whatever friends I had around that I felt were good to play with at the time ended up playing with me. Sometimes they would have other obligations, so they would switch out. That's how it's been. Which has actually been nice, because, in a way, it's more mine.

You said you're not sure what Sea Wolf will end up being. What do you want it to be, in terms of lineup?

I would love to have a group of players who are consistent. I'd love to have a group that is Sea Wolf. I'll write the songs, of course. [Laughs.] One of the reasons I started Sea Wolf was, I was in Irving, which was a great band, but it was more of a collective where everybody has an equal say and everybody writes songs. I was really wanting to have more control.

I went to film school; I'm sort of a director at heart. I hear how the song is going to be, and I pretty much know how the song should be. Right after I write it I have a million ideas for it. I want to be able to make those ideas happen, no matter what the lineup is.

Kind of a benevolent dictatorship?

Yeah, kind of. But at the same time, I think what other people contribute is really important. I don't want it to be all me. I want other people to contribute their personality and whatever it is they have to offer to the group, musically. It makes the songs richer.

Sea Wolf opens for Nada Surf tomorrow at the 8x10, 8-10 E. Cross St. The show is sold out. Call 410-625-2000 or go to

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