Rock, Heart, and Soul: A Conversation with Seratones
    • FRIDAY, MAY 06, 2016

    • Posted by: Mike Montemarano

    Today, Seratones released their debut record, Get Gone, an incredibly diverse record that's sure to take anyone's summer playlists to the next level. On the new album, the band seamlessly imbues Jazz, Soul, and Blues, with elements of psychedelic, punk rock, and Black Sabbath-style heavy metal to propel the high-flying songs into an immersive wall of sound.

    The four members have been playing together in various capacities for years and bonded especially at local, DIY-style shows where they found shared connections in the culminating musical community. Individually, the band members have varied musical backgrounds and tastes that have given them a versatile presence as a collective.

    Originally finding her voice at the Brownsville Baptist Church, Seratones lead vocalist and guitarist AJ Haynes, has been a gifted singer since childhood. Her voice is truly magnificent, and she projects her abilities in a way that's uniquely suited for hard-hitting and elaborate rock music. In anticipation of their new album, I caught up with AJ about Seratones' creative ambitions, as well as the many experiences that led them to their breakthrough new album.

    Haynes' transition from her background in gospel to fronting Seratones, came from her collection of jazz songs that defined the pre-rock and roll era of music.

    "I listened to a lot of jazz, and jazz vocalists. People like Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. I really liked the way that they used their voice as an instrument. It's hard to explain, but they all just simply sound like they're having a good time, and it's not about showing off, it's about seeing how far they can stretch their voice.

    When asked if it was difficult to have such a shift in vocal styles, she said:

    "No, not at all, actually. Gospel music isn't always slow and lethargic, Gospel music actually has quite a good deal of energy in it.

    When hearing just how disciplined and precise the tracks on the album are, it may come as a surprise to learn that the majority of the album were recorded in a single, live take.

    "I think that the question of authenticity is unique to each band. What that means is that, for us, we played together for a long time. We all know each other really well, musically speaking. It just made sense for us to do most of our songs that way. Not every single song was done in a single take like that, but most of them were. It's the overall feel of the record.

    As up-and-comers who sound absolutely ready to experience massive growth in their presence during their tour this summer, it was interesting to hear a bit about some of their shared tastes, and the history they've had of performing in plenty of unconventional and even makeshift venues alongside some of their bigger shows and festivals.

    Kind of Blue [Miles Davis] was definitely a shared favorite of ours that we bonded over. Ty Segall, and the band, Wand, we all really dug. Just thinking of recent bands, we're always really excited to hear their new records.

    When asked about dream collaborators, Hayes said, "If I could have any guest musician, it would be Josh Homme. He's amazing. I can't think of anything he doesn't do.

    As touring musicians, the band has visited some interesting places, inevitably collecting memorable experiences along the way.

    "It's always fun to play unique spots. One of the best shows that we had that was in a fun spot was Nick's Ice House in Hattiesburg. They didn't even have a PA when we showed up. It was just all a bunch of friends who played together, and the bar seats were made out of toilet seats. It smelled like a library, you know? It was a lot of fun.

    On their national tour, the band has been playing alongside 90's alt veterans, the Dandy Warhols, who made a big impression on AJ and the band.

    "The Dandy Warhols are so lovely, they're all great. They're a great band and they've been awesome. They've become legends and it's really an honor to play with them, and the fact that they've remained relevant and creative, and that they have this air of spontaneity around them has been great.

    While lots of music fans, and even among growing musicians themselves, people seem to forget about how much of a commitment and work ethic can go into producing one solid record. Get Gone, as one would imagine, is a record that demanded much of the group to truly solidify their sound and produce something seamless amid the complex and moving tracks.

    "Oh yeah, hours and hours and hours. Years. We've stuck together as performers, and we're all kind of workhorses. We've been working forty hours a week, dragging our shit out to the practice space. All of us would get off work, and then we would practice until one in the morning. I would teach in the morning, so I had to get up at like six in the fucking morning to make it to work on time. We were focused on what we wanted to do and we just did it even if we were tired. Everything up to it, you go through all this work just to get up to a phase where you're ready to do something. We're traveling miles and miles every day just to commit.

    "I think the whole album made us feel out of our comfort zone. This is our debut record, it's been a different kind of exercise and skill. We had to take a really cold, hard look at every single song. It was interesting and intimidating in that way, but it's also very freeing.

    Haynes mentioned that touring will be an entirely different sort of experience following an album release, and the energy at live shows is something the band is eager to take part in.

    "I think for people to be just more familiar with the songs. We look forward to playing songs that people come to a show already into, and you can't really do that unless they've had a taste of it first.

    In the debut album's tracks, Haynes takes on the role of a storyteller, and following the record's release, it will be exciting for audience who will be able to engage in the liberating and uplifting narratives that she tells through music.

    "Kingdom Come' has lyrics that revolve around the King David and Matthew story, from Matthew's perspective. I'm sure that's something people don't listen to with the first listen. It seems like something people see as a sexy song driven by an awesome latin beat. It's kind of a retelling of that from an alternate side of the story. It's about a frustrated 'seductress,' but really she's just a survivor.

    What went into their unique and vibrant sound was a wide web of unconventional influences that few newcomers within a DIY scene are well-versed in. Through years of incredibly diverse journeys into classic sounds, it's easy to see what positions the band as one of the most promising debut artists of the year.

    As for what truly keeps them focused, the answer is pretty simple.

    "We just decided to play songs that we wanted to hear, because we don't hear anything else like it. It's just fun, and if you're not having fun, then what's the point?

    the seratones

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