Band members come and go but, once in a while, there’s a combination of players who are so in-sync with each other that the resultant sound is a true meeting of the minds. Meet Sea Cycles: Brian Squillace, Landon Paul, Josh Wessolowski and Colin Adkins. These seasoned Jacksonville players have been working hard to create original, electronic-inflected music that bucks the trends heard in the local scene.
This isn’t the first iteration of Sea Cycles, however. The band dates back to 2012. Multi-instrumentalist Squillace is the only remaining founding member but, in a sense, each member is seminal to Sea Cycles.
“What we sounded like in the beginning is completely different than what we sound like now,” says drummer Wessolowski (full disclosure: Josh is FW’s production manager). He and guitarist Paul were early additions who forged a free-flowing sound. According to Squillace, the fledgling Sea Cycles was a “really experimental instrumental band.” With the addition of bassist and vocalist Adkins in 2016, the group became whole, bringing a more traditional songwriting style into the mix.
Inspiration comes to Sea Cycles from all directions. Squillace points first to the works of artist Leif Podhajský as aesthetic inspiration. His colorful and psychedelic creations have an individual style that the group as a whole finds exciting. Adkins and Wessolowski each find their inspiration from R&B music, with the latter noting that, as a younger man, he shopped for music by purchasing albums with the most unusual covers. Rounding out the group, Paul mentions the works of David Gilmour and Pink Floyd as inspiration, as well as the music from old VHS tapes and classic video games.
This amalgamation of tastes culminates in smooth and subtle music that still has an edge to it. They never veer into the world of distorted guitars and screaming vocals. Instead, they take their atmospheric creations down dark and emotionally charged avenues. Landon notes that they are often chasing a feeling of nostalgia for a time that doesn’t exist. If you enjoy the works of Tycho, Local Natives, Grizzly Bear and Battles, then you’ll understand what Sea Cycles are trying to do with their art.
“We’ve come to our final form,” says Paul. What is this final form? The group notes that they are democratic, always working together to make decisions. They believe that having a common goal in mind allows them to move forward to new horizons.
While creating their art, the band spends a lot of time recording demos and pieces of music, meticulously separating the aural wheat from the digital chaff. Everyone brings song ideas to the table, allowing the other members to add and take away elements until the composition is fully dressed. They understand the importance of negotiation and sacrifice in making music that will ultimately be shared with the world. Wessolowski puts it best: “At the end of the day, we’re all trying for one specific goal, and that’s to put something out that we are proud of.”
Whether you’re watching them perform live or listening to their recordings, it’s easy to see that modern electronic music informs a lot of their style. The difference between their work and that of any old producer with a MacBook and Ableton software is that Sea Cycles uses MIDI and sequencing to accent what are essentially organic sounds. Paul states that there’s an unspoken rule in the group that “if it can be played by a person, then let’s play it.” The sequenced elements are there to supplement that playing, to add textures, loops and samples.
Sea Cycles’ new single, “Quota,” was unveiled earlier this month. Their sophomore album, Leave Me in My Place, drops this week, on LA indie label Other People’s Music.
“It’s an M.O. to sticking to your own path. There’s going to be people in your life who want you stray from your path, but ultimately you need to stick to your efforts, endeavors and personal beliefs,” says Adkins about the album and its title track. “Even if you reach your goals, it does not guarantee that you will be happy in the end. Ultimately, I know I could lose people along the way, but I’m doing what I believe I need to do anyway.”