Los Angeles, CA
As Sea Wolf, Alex Brown Church has kept us ensnared in his world of gorgeously lush and longingly moody tales of gypsies, wolves, foggy coastlines, redwood forests, metropolitan nightscapes and precarious loves since his 2007 debut. With his new album Old World Romance, released in September on Dangerbird Records, Church continues the story, delving into new territory.
An NYU film school graduate, and northern California native, Church has always taken the auteur’s approach to Sea Wolf, infusing his lyrics and imagery with his experiences from the romantic grandeur of the West to the old school classicism of the East. But while the scenes he paints in his songs reflect his dual penchants for dramatic natural landscapes and the headiness of urban life, under the surface they are most often about periods of change.
It was one of those periods that brought Church back to California to write and record Old World Romance, the third Sea Wolf album. While not confined to the concept of "home”, it is in many respects a homecoming album, its creation coming after the songwriter returned to his artistic base after three momentous years away.
"Some significant things happened for me while I was living in Montreal, but life happens all the time to all of us," Church says. "A lot of the album is about facing realities, reconnecting with who you are. And a lot of that came from this complete sense of rediscovery of where I'm from — not so much L.A., but the West Coast in general. I felt a resurgence. I felt like this is where I belong."
The ethos that created Old World Romance was fostered in Church's childhood. As part of an non-traditional family of builders with a profound appreciation of travel, adventure and the arts, Church spent his early years in the woodsy environs of Columbia, Calif., then lived in a tent in the French countryside for a year — taking time out to travel Europe — before his family finally settled in Berkeley.
In the Bay Area, Church's passion for music gravitated toward hip-hop and indie-rock, while his enthusiasm for writing and film grew. His artistic discipline solidified, however, during his time in New York — his NYU film studies and the influence and ambition of the city itself would profoundly inform Church as a musician.
His interests in film and music brought him to Los Angeles, where he soon befriended Brian Canning and Steven Scott, who would become his bandmates in the indie-rock outfit Irving. By the time Irving released its second album in 2006, though, Church was restless. He turned his attention to the music project he'd been working on in the background — Sea Wolf, named for the Jack London epic.