Since his 2007 debut as Sea Wolf, Los Angeles native Alex Church has been compared to no fewer than 5 million other singer-songwriters with guitars flying under the vague banner of “indie rock,” those bastards of Elliott Smith whose songs go on break-up mixes. After a few years touring and a cold three-year stint with his girlfriend in Montreal, he returned to settle back home with a new album and a more mature sound. His latest, Old World Romance, out in September, represents a departure from the sap reliquary; in the meantime he's performing at the Skirball Center tonight, loosening up for an album-supporting fall tour.
We chatted with him as he cleaned out his Eagle Rock studio for band practice, and he spoke on topics including maturity, Sea Wolf's contribution to the multiplatinum 2009 New Moon soundtrack and Richie Sambora.
Are you still feeling the effects from your contribution to the Twilight series?
I haven't really felt it. There've probably been just a few more people that have discovered Sea Wolf through it, but I don't think it's anything significant. To be honest, I don't know that much about Twilight. It just helped me pay the bills while I was making this record. We usually play 18-and-over or 21-plus shows, so I don't really see a lot of those fans.
It allows you to keep working with an independent label like Dangerbird?
Yeah. They've been great. They've never stopped me from doing something that I really want to do. Which is not usually the case on a risk-averse major label.
Even though signee Richie Sambora is kind of stealing the Dangerbird limelight?
Uh, yeah, that is … funny. I dunno, I was never really into … what was he in? Bon Jovi. At the time all their stuff was coming out, I was getting more into rap. Hopefully it will be fun, maybe like a flamenco record or something?
At least you didn't have to compete with him for studio time around this new album, did you?
I did everything at my own space. This record, it took me nine months to write. All of the songs were demo'd and stored on a hard drive. And since I'm not a professional engineer, I knocked the hard drive off my desk and basically I wound up having to redo everything from scratch. It was a real setback. They probably ended up sounding a little better, a little simpler. … This record is more melody-based, more straightforward, and there probably aren't as many words. Kind of “just let songs be simple if they need to be.”
Are you stoked to take that simpler sound in front of an audience again with a full band?
It has been a long time. I think we're mostly going to play songs off our first two records, but since the new album's not coming out until September, we may play one or two new ones. Mostly, we'll be dusting off the cobwebs.
Sea Wolf play tonight at the Skirball Center.