Interview: Sea of Zyn
Words by Simon Hadley.
Photos: Sea of Zyn.
How would describe In The Key Of Sinners?
When we realized we had an album in the works we made a conscious decision to let the songs drive the creativity. We didn’t set out with a specific style or sound in mind. From the album imagery to the musical and lyrical composition to the way we positioned the tracks, we wanted listeners to challenge traditional views and beliefs. Above all we hope it inspires listeners to think for themselves. It’s a labour of love which developed into a conceptual rock album.
How long after your formation in 2008, did you decide upon the In The Key Of Sinners concept?
We had been doing some local indie films, scoring together at first. That’s when we first realized we worked well together as a writing team. While experimenting with some new recording equipment, we cut a few rock tunes.
Our process always starts as a conversation before we even pick up an instrument or put pen to paper: The more philosophical and conceptual conversations we had, the more tunes we started. Within a year of adopting the SOZ moniker, the album was in the works.
You also cite your love of Detroit as an additional influence. What do you love must about the city?
We’re actually excited about the future of Detroit: It’s a big small town. In its rebirth, Detroit is attracting artists who are bringing with them a fresh and collaborative spirit. Head to the local pub and you’re bound to be sitting next to: a musician, painter, sculptor, graphic designer, etc.
Many have come to the city from places like: New York, Boston, Chicago, Munich, and London where they’ve been priced out of living. We’re able to find large, affordable artist spaces in a collaborative community that welcomes us and gives us an opportunity to flourish. Sure, there is the blight and decay so loved as a backdrop for news media, but there is also great, inspiring beauty here, on top of a rock and roll history unparalleled in the US.
The striking imagery of the albums cover gives an added dimension to the record. Who designed the artwork?
The original piece used to create the layout was done by William Barry Roberts. We were invited to a show where a few of his pieces were featured. We knew right away we needed to ask if he would be interested in our project.
William is a serious and critically acclaimed artist. We’re honoured that he agreed to be involved. After hearing the working demos he composed Vore III based on inspiration from the music. As we mentioned before, everything was done with a purpose. We’re really happy you mentioned the artwork, as it’s an integral part of the whole work. Check out William’s work here: http://williambarryroberts.com.
There are a lot of guest spots from local musicians on the album. How did you persuade so many musicians to contribute to your vision?
The album was fairly complete when we started to ask for guest players. We were able to explain the whole concept when we pitched it to them, which helped intrigue and inspire them to want to be a part of the project.
Eric Fischer (http://www.ericfischer.info/), John Piasentin, Art Peitsch, and Jeffrey (from SOZ) also play live locally as Radar Pilot. Glenn Bengry is an old friend, and he’s a talented horn player. We’re also friends and fans of Danny Methric (The Muggs) and Eddie Baranek (The Sights), two of Detroit’s local rock heroes.
We were really fortunate that they all came in, stepped out of their respective comfort zones, and pulled off outstanding performances.
Art did the backing vocals on ‘Idolatry’, John played the solos on ‘Light’, Danny played the solos on ‘Fearless’ and ‘Idolatry’, Eddie played the solos on ‘Deliverance’, Eric played drums on ‘Atrophy’, ‘Panacea’, and ‘Light’ and of course Glenn played the horns on ‘Poppies’ and ‘Deliverance’. Again, it’s a big small town.
Staying on the subject of local musicians, what can you tell us about Detroit’s rock and metal scene? Are there any bands that you could recommend to our readers?
There are many diverse bands in the city, and a good number of them are quite talented. We bounce around to see many acts, regardless of genre.
In the last two or three years we’ve seen some really good cross-genre shows put together; bands who you wouldn’t expect to see together, but all of them really talented.
One great thing about Detroit is that even when you go and check out a good local pop band there’s always at least a little grit and grime in them, and some of the grittiest bands will throw in slick Motown grooves. It’s a pretty sweet stylistic melting pot, and sometimes the fondue produced tastes phenomenal.
Some of our local favourites are: The Sights, The Muggs, Child Bite, Zoos of Berlin, Blanche, The Electric Six, Troy Gregory, Dennis Coffey, any of Timmy Lampinen’s (aka Timmy Vulgar) various punk adventures, and The Hard Lessons. Check them out if you haven’t already.
Finally, are there any plans to use your local connections and take Sea of Zyn on tour?
Given enough interest and the right venues, we might put some live shows together, possibly kicked off with a limited edition vinyl release.