Legend Of The Seagullmen combine a cinematic, progressive and psychedelic approach to rock to create a barrage of sight and sound and this combined with an album based on legends and tales of an aquatic nature is a heady mix. With their self titled debut out now, the band who feature members of Tool and Mastodon amongst their ranks take to the seas to bombard the listener with their watery tunes. We caught up with guitarist Jimmy Hayward (who is also the director of films such as Jonah Hex and Horton Hears A Who) and drummer Danny Carey (who is also the drummer Tool) to hear all about the album, the creation of the band, prog rock and playing their first ever gig with Primus on New Years Eve.
How did the Legend Of The Seagullmen come together as a a band?
Jimmy: Well, The Doctor came up with the original concept and he’d been stewing on it for a while and he talked to Brent about it and they took it on a little Way and then he joined up with me and I wrote The Deep Sea Diver and then we built that up and Danny, do you want to talk about how you came in.
Danny: It was kind of friends hanging out and jamming, The Doctor had the lore and the story behind it and all we could do was support it and that’s what we always look for as musicians you know, something to support. A story to create and off we went running.
Jimmy: Thematically, we dug it a lot and then I started writing the tunes and producing it and we had put a killer band together. I mean, it’s really been an organic thing over some time and we spend our time building it. It wasn’t just that we threw it together and puddled it over a couple of weekends when everyone was off tour. I have a studio up in the hills, about a quarter of a mile from where Danny’s studio is and we’re at studios all the time anyway.
Your self titled debut album is out now, how did the creation and the recording of the album go?
Jimmy: Pretty smooth, hahaha!
Danny: We pretty much all live here out in LA and we’re hanging out all the time and when inspiration hits, we can just go to the studio and say let’s record this. It just accumulated and snowballed and all of of sudden, it’s like this is going somewhere interesting so you just kind of stick with that. It’s like Jimmy was saying, it was an idea for about three years and then all of a sudden, it’s like wow we actually have a record here and it’s retarded and funny and ridiculous and it was fun.
Jimmy: Its fun to challenge ourselves, it’s another language to speak to each other you know.
With the band members busy schedules, was it difficult to get everyone together to record the album, or did you do it in stages?
Danny: I can see going forward that will be the most difficult part because we’re all busy people. Jimmys making movies, I have Tool, there’s Mastodon and all these things. You look for the windows in between and we’ll take advantage of it any way we can.
Jimmy: I think we’re pretty much at a point where when we’re not doing those things, we’re doing this. Once it caught fire and we got really into it, we started really dedicating a lot of time to it. I think it’s one of those things that Danny’s saying, because it was organic, the more we got into it, the more we realized we had something we really wanted, to make a record and play shows, shoot videos and do stuff because thematically it was strong enough for us to really get behind and so, we all got behind it and I think, given our proximity between one another and the fact that we do have studios and we do spend all our time in said studios, it makes sense for us when we’ve got time to do stuff, this is what we do.
Danny: And proximity is the key. Me and Jimmy, we live a quarter of a mile from each other. We’re all here in LA so it’s not that big of a deal for us to play together or work things out. Touring may be another story but we’ll work around that and see what happens. It’s nice when you live in the same town.
Is the album a concept album?
Jimmy: Yeah, you know what, I think it’s a concept band as opposed to a concept album if anything.
Danny: it’s definitely a concept album haha!
Jimmy: I think it’s more the concept fits the entire project. I’ve already written a score of new tunes for the next thing we’re going to make and it’s all based around the same concept. That’s the great thing about the team we’ve chosen, we’ve only just begun scratching the surface of all the stuff that we can do.
The album has a big cinematic quality to it, was that your influence Jimmy or did the whole band come together with the sound?
Danny: I would definitely say so, and that’s what you look for in a band I think. You can do all these ripping, shredding musical gigs but when there’s a concept. I always loved those original bands that had a concept or something beyond the norm or beyond reality. Nobody wants reality! It’s something you can sink your teeth into, running into ridiculousness, wherever it takes you, if you take the time with it.
Jimmy: And also, yeah I think the cinematic thing is certainly there, the storytelling aspect of it. I view these things as big stories and I’ve worked with a lot of composers doing orchestral scores for my movies, it just lent itself for that for me anyway. I mean, fuck, Dannys even played on one of my scores before and will probably play on the rest of them but I think the cinematic thing is something I definitely have an affinity for.
Have you got plans to do music videos for Legend Of The Seagullmen or maybe even a movie regarding the band?
Jimmy: Yes, one of the weird things about this band is that as much as, don’t tell our label, as much as in terms of how we put things out, we are planning a video. We’re going to shoot one upcoming, right before Brent leaves to do his stuff with our other friends in Primus and we’re going to put it into the hilt as it were.
What has the reaction to the band been like so far?
Jimmy: It seems to be pretty good.
Danny: We Like us!
Jimmy: We like us haha, it seems to have been pretty ok. We don’t read a lot of stuff but it seems so far like the labels all excited and they’re selling presales. People are listening online so we’re pretty excited. I mean, we make shit we love and we hope that people out there love it too, so far so good!
You played with Primus in San Francisco on New Years Eve. How did that show go and was that your debut live performance?
Danny: It was a total blast! That band have been doing that show for as long as they’ve been a band. They play a New Years Eve gig every year. I remember Tool doing it back in 1993 and it’s a big deal.
Jimmy: Was Justin’s first gig with Tool was opening that show?
Danny: I think it was his second haha! It’s always a blast with that legendary band and it was really cool that they invited us to do that. That was our first show together, it was a big deal.
Jimmy: We played from no one to a completely packed house so to open a show was lovely and there was tons of people running around in our t-shirts and fans were lined up outside the venue from noon so it was fantastic.
Did you play the album in its entirety?
Jimmy: we did, yes sir.
And how did you go down with the crowd?
Danny: They dug it and there were no trainwrecks which was pretty rare for a first gig!
Jimmy: We didn’t throw the pots and pans downstairs once!
Danny: It was great to see people actually receive it. Primus can be a tough band to open for. Their fans are pretty loyal. I’ve seen people bomb open for Primus! Same thing for my band, Tool fans can be pretty particular haha! I’ve seen people go down heavy, so I was really happy we got received as well as we did. It was a good start and it made us l feel pretty positive about where we’re going.
Have you got any plans for more live dates at the moment?
Jimmy: Yeah, well we’re working them out for when we release the record and we’re planning it all out because we have to look around the schedules. We have openings and holes so the thing that we’ve always agreed on in this band is that we want to play festivals and we want to play some short runs here and there. I don’t think we have any plans to go a twenty four month run in eight hundred days race to the finish but we’re definitely planning on doing some runs. We’re just taking our time figuring out when to do it and fortunately it looks like the response has been good enough now that we can do that. I mean, we want to definitely make sure that it’s fun for us and it’s fun for the fans but we definitely plan on taking it out there and after that first experience with Primus, how could we not?!
Was it just you guys playing when you played with Primus or did you have some sort of stage show as well and will you brig a grand setup when you play live gain?
Jimmy: Balls out rock n roll and killer lights!
Danny: It was pretty straight ahead, bare bones. I think that’s what’s encouraging about it. In the future, it’ll get pretty grandiose because it’s such a conceptual thing. It wasn’t our gig, we were opening up so we just got out there and played the tunes and they spoke for themselves which was really encouraging.
Jimmy: We got a full set to play all our tunes so we weren’t quite a moistener you know. It wasn’t play five tunes and get the fuck off. Fortunately for us, our dear friend Jason Kane, who’s been the lighting director for Slayer for years, he actually came up and did the Misfits at the Forum in LA the night before our show and flew up to San Francisco and played our show as lighting director and he brought the heat a little bit but other than that, it was just us straight up playing our tunes man.
Yourselves and Primus seem to have a lot in common musically and theatrically. Would you ever play together in the future?
Jimmy: Fuck yeah!
Are there any plans for that?
Danny: We had a great time so if there was time that then of course.
Would you ever do anything with the band like working on an album together?
Jimmy: Who knows man, right now we’re just doing things musically with ourselves but who knows.
The album has a big prog rock influence and feeling on it. is it fair to say you’re fans of prog and what are your favourite prog albums of all time?
Jimmy: Yeah Danny Carey would say he’s a fan of prog rock! What are our favourites? What aren’t our favourites?!
Danny: Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, Foxtrot, Close To The Edge, all the King Crimson stuff. Larks Tongues in Aspic, that was one that always hit home for me. I grew up on all that stuff. All the Yes stuff, Genesis. In a way Physical Graffiti is a prog record, it had such a dynamic and cohesive vibe to it even though it’s kind of a metal thing, that was a heavy one. It changed my life man.
Jimmy: It’s where our roots are and that’s always going to hit us with those prog angles and those crazy turanarounds are always going to be there because that’s what gets us fired up. It makes us have fun in a musical composition.
What were your favourite albums of last year and what music are you listening to at the moment?
Jimmy: I’m going to say our friends, it’s like our good buddies have put out great records recently. Mastodon put out a killer record, the Queens Of The Stone Age record you know. Meshuggahs record was one of the best records of last year, I think that’s easy to say. The rest of the time we’ve been making music and listening to the same old stuff we’ve always listened to. New Records wise, I still think there a lot of great shit getting made.
Danny: I like that Elder band, they put out a record that I liked, that was pretty cool. Once And Future Band too, they opened for Tool, they’re pretty proggy and their record was one that I dug.
Thanks guys and hopefully you’ll make it over to play some live dates in the UK sooner rather than later?
Jimmy: That’s the plan and that’s one of the things we really want to do. We want to touch down on some festival dates and be able to get over there and obviously the U.K. Kinda wrote the book on that.