Sea Girls are not taking time for granted. Since coronavirus restrictions were lifted, the band have been on a mission to make up for the lost time. Having just returned from a celebratory tour that saw them take over Brixton Academy, now their reflective second album, Homesick, will land in January.
In a perverse turn of events, if it weren’t for the pandemic, Sea Girls’ second album likely wouldn’t be ready to share their second offering with the world. Their debut, Open Up Your Head, only arrived last August, and it wouldn’t be until this summer when they got to perform it live.
The group spent most of last year apart and dotted around the country with frontman Henry Camamile holed up at his parent’s house in Lincolnshire. After reconvening at the start of this year, the band got underway on the follow-up under the supervision of superstar producers Jonny Coffer, Cass Lowe, and Jacknife Lee alongside their long-term collaborator, Larry Hibbitt.
However, with Lee based in Los Angeles while Sea Girls were in rainy Brixton, they had to work outside the box to complete the album. In fact, he is still yet to meet the band beyond a screen.
Like most, Sea Girls felt implored to return this summer with new music. This time around, however, the band are appreciating every moment, especially as the release of their debut album came in such unfortunate circumstances. “We’d never dropped a record before,” Camamile reflects over Zoom about releasing Open Up Your Head amid a global pandemic. “So we didn’t exactly know what it felt like to release an album, but it was weird not getting to tour that. The tour we’ve just done is the first time that we have played some of these songs live, and then we were debuting three important tracks from our new album, Homesick, too.”
Bizarrely, their recent live shows have been a merger of their two records. However, that’s where the comparisons lie. Their new single, ‘Hometown’, is the most reflective track they’ve released to date. It sees Camamile take a trip down memory lane down his teenage years, equipped with the punchy chorus we’ve come to expect from the group.
The grand plan was never to release a follow-up this quickly, but it all happened organically, Camamile tells me. “That break gave us time to take real stock, and it was like a reset. It was good for the brain. I think because the purpose and meanings for these songs just came really easily. We didn’t have to think too hard about them, and they just flowed out.”
Making the album in such a peculiar moment subconsciously influenced its themes, although they manifested in a way the band initially didn’t perceive. Camamile says that “mortality” combined with a gratuity for “being young and alive” was on his mind during the writing process.
He adds, “It definitely feels more direct lyrically and deeper. There’s a weight to it. Also, there are things I never thought I wanted to tackle on the debut album, like ‘Hometown’. I wanted to give a nod to friends that aren’t around anymore and the people that shaped me. I just thought, ‘No, I really want to write this kind of song’.
“I think there was something to that stillness that lockdown brought, and the stop in touring that enabled like these songs I didn’t know I wanted to write to come through,” he contemplates.
Drummer Oli Khan adds, “Like Henry says, songs like ‘Hometown’ are specific details about specific people, but these are feelings that everyone has, and situations everybody has found themselves in. I think that’s what helps people connect because we like exploring things we all go through.”
Another significant difference between their albums is the timeframe in which they had to create them. Open Up Your Head was the culmination of their first five years together, whereas Homesick, as Khan states, is “a snapshot of the months that we made it in”, which he believes has made for “a more cohesive statement”.
On a personal note, Camamile suffered lockdown induced breakup from his ex-girlfriend, who lives in Los Angeles, which he tells Far Out makes up “a third” of the album as he dealt with coming to terms with the relationship ending.
Jacknife Lee’s expertise came into play when dealing with these delicate and raw topics. “I’d get calls at 2am saying, ‘Henry, this is beautifully lyrically apart from that bit, I want you to be more real, it’s more powerful when you’re real.'”
“It was a learning curve,” the singer reflects. “It was just good for us as a band, difficult because you’re not in the same fucking room, but it’s yielded a great result. You can hear it. You can hear the importance of it right throughout the album and the laser-focused way it sounds.”
Being forced to take time off the conveyor belt has gifted Sea Girls with a newfound sense of clarity and a realisation that this is all they’ve ever wanted. While it would be understandable for the band to be somewhat bitter about last year, instead, it made them even more gracious to be in their position.
“This is like the best purpose you could possibly have as a young band, getting to make a second album. How fucking cool is that? It’s been a great reason to get up in the morning, and we haven’t taken making this album for granted.”
Slowing things down has allowed Sea Girls to recognise the important things in life. This change of perspective is the fuel they used to make Homesick, which despite being made in lockdown, they intend to be a missile of hope and gratuity. For many, the barren period made us look deep within, understand ourselves without filling our lives with endless distractions, and Sea Girls are no different.
Homesick is out on January 14th from Polydor Records.