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To The Glistening Eastern Sea

By Sarah McCartan

If there is one thing that the live music capital of the world does not run short of it’s music—and good music at that. Austin-based band The Eastern Sea is the brainchild of songwriter and vocalist Matt Hines, originating as his solo project back in 2005. After Hines teamed up with friends to breathe some additional life into his songs, this rotating cast of characters undertook recording a set of EPs which first garnered them attention, before taking on a more solid form and releasing their debut LP “Plague” in 2012.

Although they have had up to eight band members on board at any given time, The Eastern Sea has currently settled into what Hines describes as a “sweet spot” with five members, making things a bit less unwieldy. Still they tend to switch it up and do some juggling of instruments, taking on various incarnations; ultimately going after what they feel works best for any given song.

Two years in the works, “Plague” certainly lives up to its name, as the making of the record proved to be a drawn out process of hard knocks. Now, on the other side of the release, The Eastern Sea is plagued with a different, yet exciting challenge, that is, getting more and more ears to hear.

The band kicks off its first tour of 2013 in neighboring Mobile, Ala. at the Soul Kitchen—a tour of shows that Hines hints will embody a more rock feel. Hines took some time to introduce the IN to the essence of The Eastern Sea, which he refers to as a purposeful contradiction.

IN: How would you describe The Eastern Sea to those who have not listened?
HINES: Prog-pop—progressive pop. Equal parts pop music that is accessible, catchy music but also challenging, moving music with elements that take you to surprising places.

IN: Where did the band name The Eastern Sea come from?
HINES: A lot of my ideas come from books I read. The Eastern Sea came from C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia,” which I was reading at the time. It’s really melancholy and beautiful but dangerous and mysterious. I wanted to take a name that represents an adventure of unknown proportions.

IN: Now that you have made it through the trials of recording “Plague,” are you pleased with the response?
HINES: The record has been a jumping off point for us. I am happy with the response from the people who have heard it—now the stress is trying to find more ears to listen. Right now we are touring the country, making more friends and convincing more people to listen.

IN: Do you write all the songs? What is the creative process like?
HINES: I bring the seed and the band cultivates the plant. I write the core and it filters through other minds to become more interesting. A lot of my music is autobiographical so in a small way I am trying to catalog life experiences. The more I write about things I try and understand, the more I understand about myself. I strive to help others understand similar processes in their lives.

IN: You guys tend to switch things up and bring in different influences.
HINES: The fun thing about making records is working with a bunch of people—even people who may not be in the permanent band.

IN: What are your plans for your next album?
HINES: For the next album I would like to include some bigger arrangements. Right now I have been trying to form a female vocal choir.

IN: Any long-term goals looking into the future?
HINES: I want to create a wealth of music. I would like to walk away later in life looking back on a collection of songs and albums that I feel proud of—that would make me happy.

THE EASTERN SEA
WHAT: The Eastern Sea and Kopecky Family Band
WHEN: 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14 (7 p.m. doors)
WHERE: Soul Kitchen, 219 Dauphin St. Mobile, Ala.
COST:  $10 in advance; $12 day of show
DETAILS: 18 +; advance tickets available at (866) 468-7630 or soulkitchenmobile.com; theeasternsea.com