10 Questions With… Seatbelts

10 Questions With… A series that delves into fresh new releases from some of our favourite artists. With a focus on our Melodic Distraction hosts and wider community, this lil natter gives us an insight into their musical escapades when they’re in their studio, not ours. 

We chat with indie dreamers Seatbelts ahead of their upcoming EP release, ‘Welcome Simplicity’! Recorded in two days at Liverpool’s Parr Street Studios, the record showcases the band at their most inventive. With lyrics exploring dystopia, automation, mindfulness, and sanctuary, Seatbelts invite you to welcome simplicity.

Hey Seatbelts! We’re loving your new single ‘Citylines’ – what made you choose this as the lead single from your upcoming EP ‘Welcome Simplicity’?  

James: So nice to hear. Yeah, I guess it’s the song we all felt needs to come out first, being the most ‘single-y’ perhaps. Personally, I think it opens up the EP with a splash feel, like jumping into the sea or something. The song also references the EP title ‘Welcome Simplicity’ in the lyrics at one point. It’s meant to feel and sound like a journey too; dusty, explosive, unknowing, longing etc. I was reading a lot of John Steinbeck and Bruce Chatwin when writing it, picturing landscapes and long stretches of road.

Speaking of ‘Welcome Simplicity’, what’s the inspiration behind the EP title?  

James: Last summer we spent a bit of time camping with our friends near the sea. Collecting firewood, cooking fresh fish, playing songs around a fire, flying kites on the beach, playing football and all those kinds of wholesome activities… Our friend Grace had a camera handy and captured it all beautifully. We decided to use a selection as the visual theme for this release, representing simpler times. But yeah, the line is lifted from the last chorus in ‘Citylines’.

What artists were you listening to a lot while making the release?  

James: I remember listening to Smog and Bill Calahan a lot. Roxy Music, Bryan Ferry and lots of 80s songs. The usuals, like Arcade Fire and The Go Betweens. We share a lot of the same influences as a band and are always keen to hear what other members are listening to!

How did you create the EP? Did you have collaborators, mentors or friends to bounce ideas off along the way?  

James: We made demos at home, played the songs together in rehearsal and then live at Future Yard and then went into Parr St Studios. As simple as that! It’s funny, you always feel the demos are the final version, but then you replace the crusty digital sounds with some sweet studio gear and the whole thing comes to life. Although we do have a soft spot for including original stems from demos – the  keys in ‘Citylines’ are from a half broken ‘my-first-keyboard’ Yamaha thing I have. 

Who made the artwork? What are the thoughts behind the artwork/how does the artwork tie  in?  

James: Our friend Grace took the photographs one perfect summer day with friends (mentioned above).  It was one of those experiences you feel hadn’t been documented visually, just internally. Then Grace forwarded us a batch of these photographs, which completely took our breath away.

What was the last record you bought and why?  

James: ‘You Might Be Happy Someday’ by The Red, Pinks And Purples on Tough Love Records. Initially for the snappy no nonsense depresso-pop songs, then for the record itself. A thing of aesthetic beauty!

What inspires you the most to write? Do your inspirations differ over time?  

Abi: I’m inspired to write by other writers and artists mainly. I’ve been reading Patti Smith and feeling a real affinity with her written pilgrimages. Writing is comfort; if you can tell a story or write a line about what you’ve been through, you can help yourself and others emotionally. This inspires me to keep on writing. Thematically, I’m still inspired by Margaret Atwood’s dystopian visionary writing and this hasn’t differed over time. Writing as a remedy against cynicism and apathy in the face of ever encroaching controlling systems. 

Has the pandemic had an effect on how you make music? If so, how?  

Abi: More free time and increased reliance on technology, to be able to work remotely and meet online with friends and family, meant I finally upgraded in the computer department. This has allowed me to finally work with a DAW – it’s taken me a long time to build up a personal home studio as I had a busy life pre-pandemic and spent more money on going out. With more time afforded to me, I felt that for the first time I could get songs and demos recorded slickly. I’m so happy the band was into the DAW demo and wanted to play ‘Inspiration For Robots’ live. Of course I miss jamming in person with people and can’t wait for that to return to our lives. 

What mood would you personally associate with each track?  

Abi: ‘Citylines’ – romantic, ethereal, free falling, cleansing. ‘Inspiration For Robots’ – insistent, righteous, driven. ‘Keep Your Mind’ – cool, hopeful, baggy, stoner, flowing. ‘Wrap Up Tight’ – soft, soothing, sweet, soulful.

What’s next for you?  

Abi: An EP release, our first physical limited (50) cassette release, then back into the studio to complete an  album due October/November. We’re currently booking a mini UK tour for then, too. Overall,  just trying to keep our mind on the feeling!

‘Welcome Simplicity’ is out 16th April. The second single from the EP, ‘Keep Your Mind On The Feeling’, is out 9th April. Watch the video below!