When you see a band playing, whether it’s at a big venue, or a small house show, and they’re really solid, you assume that they’ve been together for years. You picture them playing around constantly, and always practicing. But you’d be surprised just how short notice some performances you see really are – a testament to the talent and dedication of musicians who truly love their craft.
Chris Turpen’s jiving, surf rock band Seasick is a perfect example. When I caught them at a recent gig, I quickly realized how lucky I was to be there. They nailed their first two songs, rolling instrumentals that demand your body be moved, and if you had asked me in that moment, I would have been sure that they had formed the band and songs together, years prior to this date. But what Chris said after those first two songs changed that perspective. They had only been together as a band for a week, and Chris hadn’t known a couple of the members for much longer than that either.
I asked to know a little bit more about the process that brought their performance about.
ENEN: So you guys have only been a band for a week. Tell us more about that.
TURPEN: “Yeah, I’ve been writing the songs over the past year. I recorded them all myself and put them up on Bandcamp in June. And then a booking agent for a touring band found me, emailed me, and they asked me to play. And I was like “I don’t actually have a band. But I can get one.”
ENEN: How’d you find that band?
TURPEN: I knew Leo [Magrin, bass] and Cody [Ojea, guitar] from the SCAD radio station. And I met Nick [Caramela, percussion] kind of randomly at a bar. And within a week we got it together. We only practiced twice.
ENEN: Surf Rock. What got you into it?
TURPEN: Well, I’m from Seattle, and there isn’t a lot of surfing in Seattle, but the Ventures are from there. I listened to the Ventures growing up, and I’ve always wanted to surf but I never could because I don’t have very good balance. But I really like the music, so I just started writing it.
ENEN: You played a lot of instrumentals in your set. Do you you prefer them over putting vocals on the track?
TURPEN: Yeah, there are only a couple songs that have lyrics. When I started I hated singing, and I’m still not comfortable with it, so I mostly just want to do instrumental music.
ENEN: When you are writing lyrics, what do you like to write about?
TURPEN: I just write down bits and pieces when they pop into my head, and try to bring them together later, honestly.
ENEN: A lot of people like to ask artists which bands influenced them, but I like to ask if there was a particular album from an artist that really stuck with you when you first heard it. One that helped drive your passion. Do you have one of those?
TURPEN: Probably the Traditional Fools’ self-titled album. There were a couple of surf tunes on it, but it was also just really shitty and grungy and awesome, and I realized that I could put something like that together without any good recording equipment myself. So yeah, that’s what inspired me.
ENEN: Of the original songs you’ve recorded, what’s your favorite to perform?
TURPEN: I’d have to say “Donny Was a Surfer.” It was inspired by the Big Laboiski, at the end, when Walter talks about how Donny used to be a surfer as a kid. And I was just like, “Yeah, I’m gonna write a song about that!” So I did.
As we were winding down the interview I turned to Seasick’s bassist, Leo Magrin, and asked him a question about something that took place just before they started their set.
ENEN: When I walked into the venue you guys were still setting up, and you were sort of joke-rapping to a beat some of the other guys were playing. What got that going?
MAGRIN: I was just trying to kill time because there were some delays. I think as a band, we all just really want to have fun. And I think that’s why we all came together so quickly and gave it a shot. Because it sounded crazy to all of us to sort of get a set together in a week, and none of us knew what we were doing, but we had our first practice, and it was kind of amazing because we played the first song, and it just clicked. And I think that’s why we have a nice vibe when we’re playing, because we’re just here to have fun.
You can learn about Seasick’s upcoming events through their Facebook, and you can can listen to their debut album “Hollow Days” via Bandcamp, and own it as your very own for an absurdly reasonable price. Here’s the stream: