Seemless: Interview with Derek Kerswill

SeemlessRaw and heartfelt though it was, Seemless’ self-titled debut was just the primordial ooze from whence would crawl the band that delivers What Have We Become to the masses this week. Their first effort for Equal Vision (unless, of course, you count the reissue of the aforementioned self-titled), it boasts a notable growth in songwriting and soul.

The fuzz has dissipated, and in its place is a near- perfect rendering of the band’s live energy. Tighter and more together than ever, Jesse Leach (vocals), Pete Cortese (guitar), Jeff Fultz (bass) and Derek Kerswill (drums) are now crafting songs as elaborate and honed as the Paul Romano artwork gracing the front cover.

Hitting the road for the first time alongside Nonpoint, Seemless are looking to spread their sound to as many people as possible. With the natural-sounding balance of catchiness and integrity on What Have We Become, not to mention the flow of the record and quality of material therein, they should have no trouble.

How was the recording different than last time? You did it mostly live, right?

Derek Kerswill: We went into Longview Studio in Massachusetts. That’s the one on Longview Farm, where Aerosmith and Quicksand, Sevendust, Rolling Stones, they’ve all recorded there. So it’s an incredible history, amazing vibe.

It’s out in the middle of the woods on 140 acres of farm. So we went out there and we just hunkered down for about 10 days—not even—we were there for like seven days. Me and Jeff, we went to go track the record the first day, and I had the drums done in a day.

Four songs, one take, and 80 percent of Jeff’s bass stuff we kept. So the foundation of the record is live—no click tracks, no trickery, no triggers—it’s us playing in a room together.

That explains the straightforward sound on the record then.

I think it sounds like us live with a little more texture, and that’s all we wanted. I’m very disappointed in a lot of bands when I see them these days because there’s so much doctoring going on in ProTools, and then you see them live and either they can’t pull it off or it’s just not as pummeling. Our thing was, forget that.

Our main influences are ’70s old school rock and blues, and those dudes just went in a room and fuckin’ played. We wanted to capture that. I think people overthink the recording process these days.

I have this new theory: when you’re recording music, you should be trying to tap into the initial reason you were inspired to write that song in the first place. And it’s a moment. You want to capture that moment, and if you start thinking too much about that moment, it turns into something so far away from that original idea that it’s not that moment. To me, all I wanted to do, and the band, all we wanted to do was capture those moments that we were inspired by and put them down on tape.

Compare that to the philosophy going into the last record.

In a lot of respects, I mean, the last record was cool, but me and Pete wrote that album and had these songs already written. It was a step and an achievement for us because this was the band we had always dreamed of.

So that album was already written and we were just like, ‘Alright, we want Jesse and we don’t care where we go.’ All of us had been in previous projects that we walked away from because we didn’t want to deal with the business and the bullshit anymore.

We took steps back to move forward, and I can’t believe how much forward we’ve moved, but basically that last record was me and Pete writing the songs, we went in and recorded, and then months of Jesse trying to figure it out. He’d go up for two hours and nothing would happen. It was not solidified and it was a very broken process. We wrote the songs and then he came in.

With this album, it was a band finding themselves, writing songs completely in a collaborative sense, and nobody’s any more invested than anyone else.