By Amy Sondova Many albums deal with complicated subjects, whether they are personal struggles, bittersweet memories, man’s attempts to understand God, or the complexities of relationships. Seabird tackles all these issues head-on with their debut album, Til We See the Shore (Credential) released in late June (read review). Hailing from Cincinnati (the Kentucky side) the Morgan brothers Aaron (vocals/keys) and Ryan (guitar), bassist Chris Kubik, and former drummer Aaron Hunt had an atypical beginning.
It all started when Hunt, the band’s co-founder, heard Aaron tickling the ivories on his father-in-law’s grand piano. “He approached me and asked if I wanted to start practicing some songs in his basement,” shares Aaron. “He was playing guitar and I was playing piano; it sounded horrible, so he switched to drums.” Adding in bass player Chris Kubik and a guitarist gave the piano-rock outfit a more solid sound.
However, Seabird experienced inner turmoil when their then-guitarist became dissatisfied with the direction of the band. Inspiring the bittersweet song, “Let Me Go On,” Aaron says, “It was definitely a difficult time because he was a friend of ours. It started as a friendship; it didn’t start as a band thing.” The song itself is about the power of a great song, shares Aaron, who says either the audience loves the music or not, but struggles for power often destroy great music. Aaron’s brother, Ryan, joined Seabird’s line-up two years later.
Right now, the band is looking for a drummer. They are currently using the talents of three different drummers to fill in for summer shows. Aaron Hunt left the band three weeks prior to lead singer Aaron Morgan’s interview with Backseat Writer. “It wasn’t a band situation; it was band timing,” shares Aaron, who was sad to see his friend leave. “We love him. We’re still friends and we support him in his decision.”
Despite these changes, Seabird has impressed audiences with a decidedly Britpop sound that also makes use of heaving guitar hooks, strong rhythms, and a solid piano/guitar base. The band’s first single, “Rescue,” co-written with Bear and Bo Rinehart of NeedtoBreathe, is resonating with listeners. “I felt like everything good I was trying to do was ending up in failure and only God could turn it into something beautiful and life-giving,” says Aaron, who then continues, “The chorus is calling out to God as rescuer. I know many times in my life I’ve felt like I’ve had no way out.”
The power of a song like “Rescue” isn’t solely for Christian audiences. “I have friends that aren’t Christians and it’s their favorite song. I think there’s something really ironic about that. Whether they hear the Christian message or not, they know what it’s like to feel defeated and the need to be rescued.”
Aaron also sees Seabird’s music as a chance to cross-over the great divide between Christian and non-Christians with the universal language of music. “Growing up in church, we would never turn our backs on the opportunity to play for a Christian audience. We’ve got such a responsibility to share the love of Christ with others. If we have a tool like music that can build relationships, I want to do that,” remarks Aaron.
By being approachable, Seabird wants to connect with others musically and personally, says Aaron, “The vulnerability of our songs gives listeners an open door into our lives. That’s something we take very seriously.” The band also strives to share songs that tell about real experiences, even if they are humiliating. Aaron draws much inspiration from his love story with a young woman, Celeste.
When Aaron wrote “Stronger” for his childhood sweetheart, he was only 17. “I wrote that before I was in Seabird or even before I thought about playing it for anyone. It was a way to get my emotions off the chest.” Knowing that the timing wasn’t “right” to confess his loving feelings to Celeste, the girl next door, Aaron poured his thoughts into songs.
After spending a year and a half at college and then getting in involved with YWAM (Youth With A Mission), Aaron serenaded Celeste with a special song written to celebrate her 20th birthday. “That’s when she knew I loved her,” shares Aaron, who admits that was his most nerve-wracking performance. “I waited my whole life to tell her that I loved her.” The couple married a year later, and now have a beautiful three year-old daughter, London.
“Being a boyfriend and being engaged are very different from being married,” explains Aaron as he talks about the album’s angriest song “Cottonmouth” (Jargon). “You have a lack of authority, but when you’re married you have the right to step in and protect your wife when there is an abusive or destructive relationship present.” The culmination of the song (and the story) is a celebration at the severing of a difficult, controlling association.
The melancholy ballad “Falling For You” is a softly romantic song Aaron wrote to comfort Celeste, who was grieving her parent’s divorce after 30 years of marriage. “Once I got married, I took on a lot of her hurt and abandonment and disappointment, and that’s what this song is about—finding refuge in a new love and a new family,” shares Aaron.
The album is also about finding refuge in God, in the belief that there is something worth fighting for, and an indelible hope in the spirit of man. The album’s title track beautifully sums up the entire album says Aaron. “I get this imagery of a ship full of sailors that get caught in a terrible storm. They’re nearly at the point of defeat and they decide that they’re going to fight for their lives against this storm.” That is, until they see the shore, a place of safety.
While it may seem that Til We See the Shore solely deals with heavy themes, there’s the marvelously upbeat “Maggie Mahoney,” a song about a girl who love to dance, but can’t seem to relate to others outside of dance class. “A couple of people have asked if Maggie Mahoney was an ex-girlfriend, but that’s definitely not true,” laughs Aaron, who then elaborates on the song. “We’ve actually never met Maggie, but we know about her from a friend who was in a dance class with her. He said that when they were in class, she was a lot of fun and had a great personality, but outside of class, she has a hard time being normal.” The real Maggie Mahoney has never heard the song or of the band, Seabird, for that matter.
Still, there are plenty of others who have been moved by the band’s lyrics, rocked out to the music, and found inspiration and hope in “Rescue.” As Seabird continues to play with their friends NeedtoBreathe, The Myriad, and This Beautiful Republic, they will instill the hope that the shore isn’t that far away.