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Performing at the V Festival merely a year after forming inspired the band to push themselves

Alongside the Seabellies’ impressive trumpeters and saxophonist, the Newcastle/Sydney indie experimental-pop sextet recruited string players and a trombonist to elevate further the orchestral vision of their debut album, By Limbo Lake . The Seabellies have, indeed, come a long way since winning the Garage To V Competition in 2007. Being awarded the opportunity of performing at Australia’s inaugural V Festival would come to mark the beginning of the band’s path to self-realisation. By that time, Seabellies had already amassed an album’s worth of songs, but insisted upon developing their sound into one that was distinctly their own. Three years later, they’ve achieved exactly that. From the orchestral grandeur of its sprawling string-laden opener Ices (Death & Love) to the hypnotic electro grooves of Orange X , and the hip-hop influenced psychedelic-pop of Armour to the harmonic balladry of Smokestar , By Limbo Lake establishes itself as a superbly crafted album of explorative textural pop.


Performing at the V Festival merely a year after forming inspired the band to push themselves early in their career. “It was extremely motivating,” asserts frontman Trent Grenell, “and having to put together a set for a huge stage that we shared with the Pixies and the Pet Shop Boys… it completely changed our focus on things.”


In October of 2008, Seabellies played at New York’s CMJ Music Marathon alongside The Veils and Passion Pit as well as gigs in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Hollywood’s Viper Room. “We were kind of in the middle of writing the album and it was amazing to see all those Brooklyn bands and just how amazing and nurturing that scene is,” says Grenell. “It was really important for the writing of this album and really inspiring.”


The Seabellies were formed by essentially fusing Grenell and his brother Kyle’s previous bands. “It ended up being a band full of friends, which was just really convenient,” Grenell laughs. Their six-track debut EP, Wave Your Fingers To Make The Winters, was self-released in March of 2007.


During the writing and recording of their debut album, the band had found themselves in a ‘state of limbo’; whereby themes of displacement, reflection and striving were prevalent. Re-emerging from that state of being ‘in limbo’, however, proved “really rewarding”. “The songs were written over the past three years and the single Trans Ending is actually the oldest song,” Grenell explains, “It was quite a disjointed album before we went into the studio.


“I went to a beach house on the central coast by myself for two weeks to write,” he then relates. “So there are a lot of water themes… I love the dreamy landscapes, layered techniques and visual lyrics that filtered in and how they can connect in both a literal and dreamy sense. I like a lot of free-form, sort of chaotic and strange instrumentation. Artists like Broken Social Scene and a lot of Canadian bands like Wolf Parade.”

Seabellies recorded their debut album with acclaimed Australian producer, Wayne Connolly (You Am I, Paul Dempsey, Josh Pyke, Youth Group, Dappled Cities). Grenell and his brother also designed the stunning artwork for By Limbo Lake. “We’ve always loved designing our own work and merchandise, and we wanted the cover to be colourful,” he informs. “We wanted to capture the feeling of being lost and not knowing where you are but combine it with those dreamy landscapes.”


In Grenell’s mind, the band’s defining moments over the past few years have shaped the Seabellies into their current identity. “I think our first experience into arena rock, which was the V Festival, really shaped the kind of live band that we wanted to be,” he affirms. “The CMJ experience really helped us think about what we wanted to focus on in the studio and really soak up those international influences… playing at an international festival when we had only been playing with Australian bands was mind-expanding in the way that it helped shape the differences in the way we play today. It was definitely a defining moment in our career. Hopefully, the album release will be the third,” he grins.


Touring with LA indie-rock group Eulogies at the end of last year was also particularly memorable. “That was awesome – they’re such an amazing band and great people,” states Grenell. “We had such a ball with them. They’re such professional players and you can just see that they have a complete and utter love for music and what they do. We were really inspired by them as well and that whole experience.”

The Seabellies will be supported by Fire! Santa Rosa, Fire! at their album launches. “We’ve crossed paths a few times; we feel a kind of affinity with them,” Grenell expresses. “They’re amazing songwriters, and bands like Cloud Control… bands that have a lot of mood but are still really energetic. It’s great to be part of a bunch of bands that are doing really layered pop music.”


SEABELLIES launch By Limbo Lake – with Fire! Santa Rosa, Fire! in tow – at The Evelyn Hotel this Saturday October 2. By Limbo Lake is out now through Albert productions.