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Central And Remote: Sea Pinks

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Interview with Neil Brogan, Sea Pinks.

Sea Pinks is the solo project of Belfast’s Neil Brogan. Since 2010, three studio albums have been released by the ever-prolific Belfast-native. Most recently, ‘Freak Waves’ has seen the light of day. The album is a bittersweet pop gem that recalls the timeless sound of Real Estate and The Go Betweens. Sea Pinks’ uncanny ability of creating the perfect indie-pop song is clearly demonstrated upon listening to ‘Freak Waves’. Better known as the drummer in Girls Names, Brogan is often joined by his band mates for live shows. Recently Neil discussed Sea Pinks music with me, fresh from playing with The Pastels in Manchester.

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry


Congratulations on your new album ‘Freak Waves’. It’s a bittersweet pop gem. Listening to the album reminds me of Real Estate’s ‘Days’ album, where the songs hit you with their directness and a beautiful nostalgic feeling. The melodies are paralleled with classic Go Betweens. It’s great to ask you a few questions about the new album ‘Freak Waves’. Thanks for your time.

Tell me please about the making of the new album ‘Freak Waves’?

Well thanks first of all for the kind words, those are nice comparisons I can totally live with. I made the album by myself over a month or so in the summer. Two of the songs were recorded a couple of months before that. At that point I thought maybe I was making an EP but then when I hit a roll recording I just decided to go for the full album whammy.


Your inspirations for ‘Freak Waves’?

I’m not very good at answering this kind of question. I feel like this album is a development on from the two previous Sea Pinks records and that the three are of a piece, but of the three this is probably the more mature sounding. I guess the things that informed that are part of an ongoing process.

I would love to have a glimpse at your record collection please! What are the albums that have made the most impact on you as musicians?

Honestly, it kind of bores me to talk about influences or to read about other people’s. Doesn’t everybody listen to everything anyway these days? I guess with Sea Pinks I’m wearing my influences on my sleeve anyway a lot of the time, but there are all kinds of things in there really, some less obvious than others.


Give me an insight please into the music scene in Belfast.

There’s a ton of bands in Belfast, most of which are pretty bad IMO. A handful of people are making decent music which I guess is all we can hope for really, it’s a pretty small place. Some bands I like are Girls Names, Documenta, Slomatics, Kicks Blue, Charles Hurts and probably a couple of others I’m forgetting.


I love the album cover. Where and when was this photograph taken?

Well thank you. It’s from an issue of National Geographic magazine from the 1970’s. It kind of looks like coastal erosion but was actually from a feature on LA. The picture on the cover is of a house that was destroyed in a mudslide. I like to think the guy on the front cover is Randy Newman.
I paid for the license to use it by the way.


My favourite song is the title-track and album closer ‘Freak Wave’. The guitars are reminiscent of Ducktails and Real Estate. Your vocal shares the spark of Paul Westerberg. A really timeless sound. Was this a song that shaped the album, as the title would suggest?

Well thank you again. That song actually came along quite late in the day but I realised it would be a good closer and also a good name for the record. I listened to Real Estate’s “Days” a lot when I was touring with Girls Names prior to that so I’m sure some of the sound of that record seeped in.


‘Lake Superior’ was the first song I heard of Sea Pink’s music, played loud in my local cafe. There is that rock n roll feel bustling throughout. A pop haven of harmonies. In the creative process of the band, who brings what to the table?

Ha, well that is probably an ideal place to hear it so that’s nice. Actually I bring everything to the table in that I write the songs and play everything and record it all myself, or have done up to this point anyway. When it comes to playing live I have some guys to help me and it’s a different ball game but with recording it’s just me.


What is next for Sea Pinks? Will there be a tour?

We’ve been playing some shows, just back from playing with The Pastels in Manchester actually which was fun. I’ve kind of borrowed my friend’s band for the time being and we’re just taking it a show at a time right now, hopefully we’ll do a few more soon.


What bands are you listening to lately?

I did a mix for Skinny Wolves here which has some current listening on it:


Thanks so much for your time in answering my questions. Words can’t do ‘Freak Waves’ justice-a timeless classic. Congratulations again and onwards and upwards for Sea Pinks. Best wishes.

Thanks man, that’s very kind of you to say. I’m really glad you like it!


‘Freak Waves’ is out now on CF/Recs.


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December 12, 2012 at 7:43 pm

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