A few things you need to know about Jason Brody, the mind and voice behind At Sea: He’s a native New Yorker who everyone assumes is from California. He spent years battling stage fright (though now you’d never know it). And he once killed himself to make better music.
All of those aspects, and many more, play a role in At Sea, who release their full-length debut A New Machine on September 25, 2012 via CEN/RED. Listening to the Brooklyn band, you’ll hear both the familiar and the unexpected. It’s melodic; equal parts moody electronics and big guitars, with lyrics both personal and quietly political. The music conjures up everyone from the likes of Jeff Buckley to Doves to Death Cab for Cutie, without really sounding like any of them.
The name “At Sea” implies an ongoing journey. Brody’s trek, like his music, has its own dynamic twists and turns. The son of two deaf parents, Brody spent his youth taking piano lessons foisted on him by his grandmother. In his teens, he insisted on switching to the guitar and early on, battled acute stage fright, even when fronting a band in high school (he refused to sing in public – a condition he now admits he’s dealt with, as any live show by his recent group can attest).
After deciding he “didn’t want to be a guitarist in another person’s band,” Brody went solo. As a “singer-songwriter,” (a term that continues to baffle him) he released a record under his own name and developed a local following, earning more than a few (appropriate) Jeff Buckley comparisons. But the singer found his success musically limiting. “I was getting inspired by things like The Postal Service, Muse, and even The Shins, and I wanted to add electronic elements and a little rock ’n’ roll swagger to my sound,” he explains. “But you hear ‘guitar-playing male singer-songwriter,’ and right away you have a preconceived idea about
what that entails.” His solution? “Kill” his persona and rename his project The Death of Jason Brody. It was a clever idea, but ultimately too confusing for both him and his audience. Thus, At Sea was born.
Lyrically, the songs on A New Machine feature an apocalyptic undertone, inspired by the recent spate of natural disasters, the Occupy Wall Street movement and the continued whitewashing of New York’s culture. It’s Brody’s attempt to inject a little substance into the modern musical climate. “Now there’s so much music out there and it’s so easy to get to,” he says. “But it’s also easy to forget that any music we make and listen to was inspired by music that was made from a more political and reactionary point of view. There was an intent behind it all that’s no longer there.”
In Jason’s own words: “At the end of the day I’ve realized that it’s all about writing a great song. Strip away all the fashion, all the production, all the other elements that go with the experience of music, and it really comes down to that. That’s what gets people, what touches them. That’s where I want to be and what I want to do.”
At Sea will be out on the road in the Northeast all summer and release A New Machine on Sept 25, 2012.