Live at CMJ: Eagle Seagull

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photo by Doron Gild

review by Sheryl Witlen
interview by Jim Beckmann
photos by Doron Gild

Eagle Seagull are slowly but surely putting Lincoln, Nebraska, on the map. The six piece band far surpass any expectations you might have in your mind for a band breaking their way out of the midwest. Sophisticated and sharp Carrie Butler (violin, keys, vocals), Britt Hayes (drums), J.J. Idt (guitar, bass), Eli Mardock (vocals, key, guitar), Mike Overfield (bass, synth), and Austin Skiles (guitar, bass) specialize in lovingly heartwrenching rock songs. Where most indie bands purge themselves of their emotional demons in doses of three minute samples, Eagle Seagull take their time unveiling their story at their own pace,with songs clocking in at an average of four to five minutes. Early in the game they attracted the attention of producer Ryan Hadlock (The Gossip, Blonde Redhead, Stephen Malkmus) and their next album, The Year of the How-To Book, is slated to be released within the early months of 2008.

After their emotive and energetic set, the full band talked about the next album, German radio, and their plans for the future. While it may appear that only a few members answered the questions, all members of Eagle Seagull — Eli, Carrie, Britt, J.J., Austin, and Mike — fed into, laughed about, and discussed the topics readily. Here’s what they said:

Jim: Since I’ve recently interviewed Eli here (here), I’ve probably exhausted all of the questions I can think of, but I think that people will want to know a little more about the Nebraska music scene that you’re part of. What is it like being a band in the area?

Austin: Well definitely a label like Saddle Creek brought recognition to the area, and more bands come to play in Omaha-Lincoln, and you now don’t have to travel to Chicago or Denver to see them. They done good stuff to help out — they’ve definitely kicked some ass.

Jim: The new album coming up, you’ve recorded with Ryan Hadlock in the Northwest. How did that come about? Did he call you?

Eli: Basically. It was his manager, but I’m kind of obsessed with Ryan Hadlock because I love Blonde Redhead, so I was really excited when the guy that did their two previous records called me.

Jim: And you came out to Bear Creek, right? How was that different for you being outside of Nebraska?

Eli: It was great because it was really off on its own.

J.J.: Yeah, no mosquitoes.

Carrie: Yeah, what’s with that?

[much laughing and discussing of Seattle’s relative lack of the mosquitoes]

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Jim: What about future plans for the band?

Eli: We’re really close to finishing things up [with a label].

Jim: Has it helped working with Ryan Hadlock?

Eli: I think so, yeah, and also the European stuff [Lado, a label in Germany released the debut there]. We didn’t have a ton of success in the U.S. because we didn’t have any distribution. You couldn’t really buy it anywhere [except here!].

Jim: Because of the European label, you toured twice in Europe, right?

Eli: Carrie and I went and did a press tour of acoustic performances. The second time we went with the whole band.

Jim: What kind of audiences were you drawing there and how does that compare to the United States?

Austin: It was crazy. We had some sold out shows.

Eli: Our first album was like a demo we did in a friend’s basement, so we never expected anything.

Carrie: We did a German radio show.

Austin: When we got to the venue and there was this huge line outside of the door. It was the coolest thing ever.

Eli: And the Austria shows were great. We charted at number 2 there on the indie charts, and our album was number 8. We were right behind The Killers.

[much general cursing of The Killers]

Britt: We came back to the U.S. and played in maybe Des Moines to four or five people and it was all high school bands. We were just in Chicago with French Kicks and we went through Des Moines and the high school bands left before we even came on. The parents took their kids home.

Jim: How about in Nebraska?

Austin: We have great shows there. [much common agreement]

Eli: In New York we do really well and in Chicago.

Jim: A lot of the good music blogs picked up on the music early on, like Matt at You Ain’t No Picasso.

[much general approval of Matt’s great blog]

Eli: And I Guess I’m Floating. [again much approval]

Jim: Already you’ve released two new tracks on your MySpace, one through us as a Song of the Day. Now that you’re prepping the new album, what are your plans?

Eli: We’ll definitely go back to Europe and we’ll probably be touring the U.S. after that. Next year we have a ton of stuff planned and I’m really excited about our label options. Hopefully, you’ll hear a lot from us next year.

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