Interview: Fourteen Nights At Sea

Published in Drum Media (WA) | 11.07.13 | Issue # 346



After a stressful morning, Fourteen Nights At Sea drummer Liam Matthews chats with Daniel Cribb about losing their way as a band, fighting common musical conventions and the power of imagery.

If there’s another thing he’s learnt from owning two prominent live music venues in Melbourne, Old Bar and The Public Bar, it’s what bands have to do to get noticed. It’s only now, after being a band for six years, that Fourteen Nights At Sea are receiving recognition for their brand of experimental instrumental prog rock.

“It really is a mixed genre of music,” Matthews tells. “It’s hard to get any kind of press or interest when you’re an instrumental band. People don’t seem to take anything from it; for some reason words are what people love when it comes to more mainstream music, so we struggled with the first release, our untitled album, to get any kind momentum happening with the band, or any kind of interest.”

But with the release of their second record, Great North, six tunes more accessible to newcomers, they caught the eye of Hobbledehoy Record Co, and finally have a mechanism in place to promote themselves efficiently, which makes touring more frequently an option, and sees them visiting Perth for the first time ever this month.

“We’ve been a band now for seven years and we’d only really played in Melbourne and maybe three times in Sydney, because it’s just really difficult; we all work, some of us have kids, so it’s not been the easiest thing to take such a specific genre of music to go away for a weekend and play to 20 people, it’s hard to justify,” he laughs.

Just before recording their debut, untitled album in 2010, they welcomed new guitarist Drew Watson onboard. With all the excitement of a new member and a fresh perspective on the band, Matthews admits they jumped the gun with their debut.

“We really lost our way as a band after the untitled album. At the time we were really happy with it, and we really loved the songs, but looking back at it now, I think it was really forced. We just forced it and rushed it a little bit, and while I’m really proud of that release, I think Great North is just an evolution of our sound.”

Without lyrics to convey their message, artwork plays a great role in capturing the attention of their listener and pushing emotions in the right direction. The cover of Great North is a black and white image of a thick pine forest in the snow. In some ways, without lyrics to define the songs subject, instrumental music can be far more engaging.

“It’s a stark, bleak looking cover, and for me, that’s what I think of. We’re not sad guys; we didn’t have any massive trauma in our lives that led us to release an album that probably is a bit of a downer, it’s just what happened. When I listen to it, I think of being cold and it being dark and sad, that’s just what I take from the album.

“While you probably don’t want to sit down and stare at a record cover for 40 minutes to an hour, you can look at the album cover, listen to the start of the track and gauge a feeling of where we were and the essence of the sound we were looking for, and then close your eyes and go from there. I like the idea of people taking from it what they want.”

Daniel Cribb

Drum Perth (Jul 11, 2013)