Recent Dork cover stars Sea Girls arrive with their debut album today (Friday, 14th August). 'Open Up Your Head' isn't your standard, light-hearted indie faire, packed with songs about having some beer with your mates or heading out on dates. Instead, it's a far more personal exploration of love and relationship breakdowns, and a sharp detailing of frontman Henry Camamile's experience with a traumatic head injury. He's had 'a bit of a time' has our Henry, which you can read more about in this here track by track he's put together, and also in the May issue of Dork, which has their lovely faces on the cover.
'Transplant' is a love story. It's about the world dropping out from under you when someone stops loving you, and you keep loving them. The style of song, the way the story is told, it feels quite cinematic. The first verse, someone's told they can't hear because the music's so loud. You know, they've been told that they don't love them anymore. Their heart changed. That line came from me being on the phone with someone and having that exact conversation, and the music was too loud in the background for them.
It's almost like a little film actually, this song. It opens the whole album; it opens like a book. More so than a lot of the other songs, it's just full of scenes. The first one being that conversation in a club, the second is the serotonin drop, that pit in your stomach, and then the third is maybe a day later, a week later, whatever, thinking that you're gonna win by driving out to someone's house. Obviously, that's not going to work. Larry [Hibbitt, producer] and Oli [Khan, drums] said that this was the most Sea Girls Sea Girls song, so it's certainly right that it starts the album.
All I Want To Hear You Say
With 'All I Want To Hear You Say', I don't think we had any idea how popular it was going to be or how much it was going to connect with people, you know? It's clearly a love lost song, and there's relationship in it, but I was worried it was gonna be too specific to me and my ex-girlfriend, who was an actress. It was in the world of acting, and I thought it related to people living apart and in that way, but I guess you don't even realise it is about that dynamic.
This song was written pretty soon after I had my head injury and my post-concussion syndrome and that put me into weird mood swings. There were moments that were pretty tough, but there were also moments where I could be a little bit more clear because I was being well-behaved. I wasn't drinking, I hadn't touched a drop for however long, and I think that really benefited; when I could focus, it made the focus even stronger. I learned that it's really good to be sober; I think we wrote one of our best songs doing that. So that makes me feel really good about that side of things.
Also this song, it was quite experimental for us, for me, vocally just pushing the envelope. I thought, God, what would Kurt Cobain do? This song doesn't sound like a Nirvana track, but I just threw my voice around, and it really worked. I saw someone comment on Twitter that it sounds like a Pixies song. So, I mean, it clearly sounds a long way off. It doesn't sound like that. But, you know, well done for spotting that. So, thank you to Kurt Cobain and all the other artists that inspired us.
Do You Really Wanna Know?
'Do You Really Wanna Know?' stands out a lot in the album stylistically, because we just love a rock song that chugs, but this one's very much groove-based. When I first showed an early version of it to Andrew [Noswad, bass], he was like, I think this could be our best song. So, we had to record it. No doubt about that. There's just something else, it gives us a different palette. I think that's really exciting in the album, to not have everything the same. We really relish that.
The meaning of the song is incredible. It'd be relevant to 'Open Up Your Head', to the album title, because it's about hiding in plain sight and hiding something to do with my mindset. It's basically, do you really want to know what I'd change about myself? When you're really low on self-esteem. I was bothered, I wrote this right in the middle of when I was obsessed with writing about my head injury and how my brain had changed and how I was annoyed that I didn't feel the same and I wasn't on form anymore. I guess it's like all the problems that brought; this song basically saying, let's not talk about that. But of course, I'll always put it into a song, and I'm obsessed with writing about feelings. Things that are complicated. We love the song.
Lie To Me
'Lie To Me' is very much its own thing within the album. I was listening to lots of Bruce Springsteen and modern Americana like War on Drugs. The time and pace, that guitar that kicks in, that's like the first thing. That stuck from when I was writing it. Never got rid of that central acoustic guitar. And then it all goes around that.
It's a love song about, I don't even care if you don't love me or whatever, you know, you don't even have to tell me, just lie to me. It just gets out a real intensity of feeling. There's a little bit of self-criticism there and self-deprecation, but all to like - I don't care because I'm in this.
We played around with it a lot when we're recording it. I think we did about three different versions; eventually, we focused on that guitar, that rhythm guitar, the rhythm around that. We made a conscious decision, Oli when he was drumming, not to use symbols on it or to use very little, just to make a different palette. Also when we did the outro, I think it's the most amount of parts we had for a song that didn't end up in the song. We came up with so much stuff and then pulled it all out. And then also the outro I was kind of playing around with doing Robert Smith impressions all day, and I think that definitely a little bit of him fed into that outro, and just the delivery didn't want to hold back. Again, it's like with 'All I Want To Hear You Say'; I just didn't care if I was hitting notes. It's more about the intensity of the delivery than the beautiful noises it makes.
Call Me Out
'Call Me Out' is the oldest song on this album. It changed our lives. It's this track that our managers heard for the first time, and it did so much for us. It was also the fastest song I'd ever written; just a collection of lines of how I was feeling at that time of life. Being unsure about what you're doing, what your purpose is, just with our desire to make it as a band. I'm feeling like so many people do, just totally inadequate, and you're just looking for someone to fill that void. It's just an expression of that and not planning for the future. Being aware of how reckless we were taking that risk as a band, and how reckless I felt as a person. Just committing everything to music and seeing people around me take other life choices and feeling really insecure about that.
This song just did so much for us. Everything changed after we recorded this song and put it out and I think we knew that it was special before we even put it out and I think we end pretty much every set with it, either in the encore or at the end. I roll around on the floor quite a lot during this one, during the outro, and like really like hang on. We wait a while till we do the last chorus, we leave the drop out for ages, and it's just become like the foundation of the DNA of Sea Girls gig, and we'll be playing it for a long time.
'Closer' was written by Rory. We played a gig, did one of our first ever gigs abroad; I think it was like a 2am or 3am slot at a club called Razzmatazz, and it was pretty fucking rock and roll. We had a huge fridge of beer and whatever we wanted. We decided to make this thing into a bit of a holiday. So we got an Airbnb, and Rory made it on his laptop as a kind of synth track. We put it back into the band, and it became like this kind of very light, ambitious-sounding big rock band song, and I think we've got some really fun memories around that. Yeah, that was quite wild. Quite wild, and quite nice at times. That was that's quite a defining Sea Girls holiday, that. And the first time we ever got put up in a hotel by a promoter.
'Forever' and 'Shake' just demonstrate Rory's talent for creating really big-sounding rock music. I remember first hearing 'Forever', and I thought we have to record that that's got to be demoed because that's going to get us signed. We've been playing it for a long time, haven't put it out. We were always going to save it for the album; at one point we even considered calling the album 'Forever' because of it. Playing that live just feels incredible; the beat, the foundation of the song carries you. It feels incredibly important, super cool as well. I always get huge confidence in that song and love just shouting that last line out. We're really excited about this song going out. I remember playing this song in Manchester, one of the first times we played it live, and I think it was about three or four songs into the set; we played a super-tight set, it was a short set as well. We just played our strongest songs. We're playing this, and I was standing on a speaker stack, and I just felt like we were in the best band in the world. It's pretty cool when a song makes you feel like that.
Weight In Gold
'Weight In Gold' is one of those tracks in this album that really stands out for me. It encapsulates a moment of calm after I decided to change my life; it was like in a realisation, you know? When the first song was written after I decided to turn my life around from and ask for help and reach out and open up my head. And the first lyric written, I was just singing around, and I was like, 'We don't even care if the car don't go'. I was thinking, what does that mean? And it just means it's a moment of peace and rest; a time when my brain wasn't hurting. It's a place without hurt, a place of comfort and warmth. Feeling like being home. I guess the original lyric is from remembering as a child. I was like seven sitting in my uncle's car that was on his drive, just sitting there pretending to drive as a child. I guess it's like if you're with your girlfriend or partner, and they just make you feel still and good in that moment. Yeah. And not having to worry about what you've done in the past. Forget about that. Not worry about what's going to happen in the future. Just be content with this one moment you're in and just kill the past. Forget the future.
Ready For More
'Ready For More' felt like a really important song at the time. In the room when I was writing it, before I was thinking of what exactly I'm gonna write about, there was a lot of energy there. It was a song that needed to be written, and it just flowed out lyric-wise, it just played out what it meant. Like 'Call Me Out', it tackled a lot of fear head-on, pulling out where I felt weak and destructive in my life, and how I was stuck in a cycle. The lyrics focus on losing what was real and good in life. You know, losing human connection, and advice, like good advice, I forget. Being stuck in old behaviours that I'd become tired and scared of. Having had a head injury while being hedonistic, I felt powerless to stop partying despite my brain injury, and I was very scared about the damage my head was in, and the damage I was doing to myself. In those days, music was the only place I turned to. I was really truthful about my feelings, and it was the first place I went to, and 'Ready For More' was one of those songs.
Violet and Shake
'Violet' and 'Shake' work pretty well next to each other because they're both pretty Kings of Leon-influenced, different eras though. 'Shake''s more third album 'Because of the Times', and 'Violet' [debut] 'Youth & Young Manhood'; it's a bit like 'Red Morning Light'. I guess the use of chords feels quite early Kings of Leon, but we've got a lot of Drive, the Drive soundtrack, influence, particularly with the synths on 'Violet', which is also like 'Transplant' - we use that in 'Transplant', that kind of palette. 'Violet', none of us are really like how I sing, how I behave in 'Violet' the song. I don't think we're that confident. I think it'd be great to be that confident real life and you could just tell someone you really like how you feel about them. Yeah, I think it would be simple if everyone just could have the confidence to say how they felt, it would be great.
Then 'Shake' pushes rock and roll on this album. The guitars sound incredible. It was really cool putting that song together. We approached that differently, so I think that shows. I remember when we did the live take for that, when we recorded the drums, I think we only did two or three takes. And then Larry was just like, the first time was bang on, so that was a straight in, perfect drum take by Oli there.
'Damage Done', I feel like I'm standing in this memory from the first time you ever had your heart broken. And you're straddling that moment, years ago, one foot in the past, one foot in the present. And almost just like, finding the whole thing really beautiful. Because you're not hurt anymore, you know? And you remember how harsh it was and how harsh it felt. But it's kind of nice. And like, almost poetic looking back at it. It says I don't really want to dance, there's no need to dance with or hang on to feelings of being jealous or things you used to feel because, I mean, everyone's moved on. Like, it's not affecting anyone, no one's in the wrong anymore, or perceived to be. Then it's also remembering at the time moving on. I guess it's a pretty positive break-up song. I think it works if you've just had your heart broken. You can just look forward to that, that's how it will be in future. It's pretty optimistic.
You Over Anyone
'You Over Anyone' is a false love song. It's incredibly intense, and it's sticking with something that is actually really bad for you and will never give back what you want to put into it. It's not really about a relationship, like a personal relationship, it's about a habit relationship, or relationship with a feeling, which a lot of these songs have been about; even when people around you say that's no good for you, sometimes you just find comfort in what's familiar, even if familiar is not what's healthy. 'You Over Anyone' was the first song I wrote after having a bad head injury, getting really bad concussion. It was a bit of a 'bash that song out of me'. And because of that, it was an incredibly like still moment, but I just really wanted to write a good song. I felt we needed something really, lyrically biting, something that really puts claws in you.
Everything from your past in some way shapes you, stays with you as we get older, and 'Moving On' finishes the album, and talks about things sticking with you like a siren or something. Like ghosts, ghosts in your past. But you still move on, you still do what you do, and you make new things, and you meet new people, and you make new music, and that's what moving on is.
Sea Girls' debut album 'Open Up Your Head' is out 14th August.
Featuring Sea Girls, Perfume Genius, PVRIS, Empress Of and loads more.