The debut single – Am I Wasting My Time – from Melbourne band The Sea Birds is a stunning glimpse into the beautifully crafted repertoire of this illustrious five-piece. The group began their musical voyage into the rich musical landscape of indie pop sound in late 2014. Comprised of dual lead vocalists Lara Wentworth and Loic Mamet and primary songwriter Mike Amarant, every member plays a part in the execution and production of ideas, including the rhythm section Lucas Wentworth and James Duplessis who have only very recently just joined the group.
The arrangements of Am I Wasting My Time draw heavily on the band’s love of indie pop. The sweetly gentle melodies with shades of alt country rock and nuanced guitar work pair flawlessly with the melancholic sentiments of the song’s lyrics. The outfit felt this track that captured the band’s ‘sweet but sad’ musical sensibility, embracing a ‘good earthy, no frill musical approach and is easily reproduced in a live setting.’
When writing songs band member Mike Amarant likes to get lost in his creation. “The great thing about writing songs is the endless artistic license and infinite exploration of ideas and music that you can bring to the process,” he says. Likewise, when crafting Am I Wasting my Time Mike wanted it to have a universal message that anyone who’s loved or been loved can relate to. “The song belongs to no- one and everyone,” he says. “It is easy to relate to the fragility and uncertainty that every new relationship brings. That is what is at the heart of the song.”
Mike kept Am I Wasting My Time close to his chest before he let the rest of the group hear it for the first time. Original versions of the song were more guitar edged – a marked different for where the song ended up. In the studio Greg Arnold (Things of Stone and Wood) added some musical colour with some great Hammond and piano work giving the song a more rural and elemental spirit.
The clip that accompanies the song was shot in the western suburbs of Melbourne which has retained much of their earlier industrial edged character with the rail and port networks still in place. Filmed on a cold Melbourne day the song and the video completely encompass the sentiment of Am I Wasting My Time.
The track was recorded with David McCluney who has engineered and produced for a who’s who of independent Australian bands for more than three decades, including Skipping Girl Vinegar, Mick Harvey (The Bad Seeds, The Birthday Party) and Nick Cave. The band also enlisted the help from Tony Floyd (Black Sorrows, Gurrumul) for the single. The ensemble clicked and the recording was nailed quickly.
The band’s approach to recording is all about being lean and purposeful when they hit the studio. “You can still be creative and have fun…but it costs a lot less to do this before you get to the studio,” says Mike. “Recording Am I Wasting My Timewas a quick kill in the studio.”
The Sea Birds has evolved slowly but steadily, and they want to continue that evolution. Their strength lies in the cross-over potential to be many things due to the diversity of the group’s members and influences. Loic Mamet has moved over from Mauritius to further develop his musical style and vocal approach, Lara Wentworth comes from a broad chorale, music theatre and popular music background and Mike Amarant is the group’s chief songwriter and guitarist with a lot of ongoing ideas and completed pieces that he feeds through to the group.
The rich dexterity and strong vocal harmony work define the band’s approach to writing introspective but accessible pop. The Sea Birds plan to be more prolific as a live group in the next 12 months, as well as release further singles leading up to an album release in the coming year.