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The best kept secret in music


"Interview with Eagle Seagull"

Which desire was the basis of the decision to form a band ? Were you rock’n’roll fans or was it just boredom ?

There’s probably some truth to both.

The songs are quite long : are the vast landscapes of Nebraska a source of inspiration for Eli ?

I think that it has more to do with self-indulgence than the landscape. Something like that.

The influences are clearly coming from England as well (Robert Smith, Bowie, Pulp etc.). I’ve read in an interview that you didn’t hear about Pulp before the journalists started to mention that band. Is that true ?

That is true. I remember people/friends saying to me here and there, even back in high school, "you’ve got to listen to this band Pulp" but I never really got around to it. Anyway, so after the album was released I read some reviews and they were all like, "He sounds like Jarvis Cocker" and I remember thinking, "Who in hell is Jarvis Cocker ?" And then someone in the band, maybe Austin was like, "He’s in Pulp you idiot." Anyway, so now I’m familiar. It’s good stuff.

Eli is the only songwriter. How are the other band members involved in the creative process ?

Everyone is getting more involved. You have to take into consideration that when the album was recorded, Austin and Carrie had really just joined the band (they only play on Photograph, which we finished last). And we had a horrendous recording situation - we could only get in once or twice a month...the recording space was in a basement (which also served as a bedroom). Anyway, the album was recorded when the band was in it’s infancy and I never really intended it to be anything more than a demo.

Do you consider the fact of being part of a "Nebraska indie scene"together with Bright Eyes or Tilly and the Wall etc. ?

We don’t think of it really. Carrie played violin on the Tillie’s last record but for the most part we don’t have any sort of relationship with those bands simply because we’ve never played with them. I think the only Saddle Creek bands we’ve played with are The Good Life and Neva Dinova. Otherwise, we usually play with smaller, unsigned bands.

How did you sign for the lado label in Europe ? Did you know their main band, Tocotronic, or was it the German label that contacted them ?

We’d hadn’t heard of Tocotronic at the time. I have a good friend who is German and has liked them for a long time so when I told him that a label called Lado had contacted us he was really excited. So I immediately went to their website and listened to Tocotronic and some of the other bands and really liked what I heard.

On stage, do you play your songs the way they sound on the lp or do you improvize a lot ?

We don’t really do any improvizing but the songs are often played quite differently than the way they are on the album. Maybe this is arrogant sounding, but I don’t think that it’s uncommon that people are disappointed with the album after hearing our live show. I’m not saying I think our album is crap or that our live show is the best thing ever, but that they’re really very different things and I think many people, after hearing us live, don’t expect our album to sound the way it does.

What are the songs about ? Do you have a message to deliver to the world ? Something you want to emphasize on ?

I don’t really like to get into specifics about what the songs mean. There’s no great theme or anything, no special dispensation for the world. The songs really just reflect the thoughts/emotions that I was experiencing at the time...lots of brooding, little specks of joy.

- La Blogotheque - France

"Take-Away Shows (2 Fantastic Videos Posted)"

Eagle*Seagull show us how to sing a song like to go to work : simply whistling the song and walk. And the public had nothing to do with the band !


There are moments when the involuntary spectators of the Take Away Shows react in ways that amaze us. We thought that this guy had nothing to do with the band that, as usual, arrived to delight us with an unexpected show. The guy was at the huge, stoic bar La Réunion, drinking his beer, staring into space, and at times throwing a glance towards Eagle*Seagull, who was in the midst of the song Death Could Be at the Door. He hadn’t uttered a word until the song finished and we were packing up to leave. It was then when he said : « You guys aren’t going to play another ? I like what you’re doing ! » Cool surprise.

He was nevertheless just like the rest of the bar’s clients and patrons : blasé to the guys, this girl, the guitar, and those drumsticks following Vincent Moon in the rue de Bagnolet to search a piano ; all this was of course necessary since Eagle Seagull couldn’t really do anything without. In order to let Eli Mardock do what he does best, we needed to find a piano. Thus, it was in la Réunion with it’s bric-a-brac décor that we interrupted a couple playing pool, who stepped aside as we cleared away the chairs in front of the piano. Eli tested the honky-tonk sound and the poignant ballade commenced.

While they were playing and the rhythm resonated through the iron armrests of a camping chair, Vincent Moon succeeding in capturing quite a moving image. The violinist, fit with the heedless air resembling the persona of a Nouvelle Vague heroine, sung with her head in the clouds, bewitchingly detached. Behind it all, the bartender served his clientele and our aforementioned guy seemed fixed on something that didn’t really interest him.

After we had finished and left the bar, we felt like doing a couple more piano pieces, so we took to another bar just a few steps away, the Globe-Lune. It wasn’t the same success we found moments earlier. Too much noise, too many people. You know the kind. We cleared the people away from the piano as we did before and launched into it. This crowd however, with its rowdy discussions and dart throwing frenzy, didn’t take to the tunes as much. Pity.

On our way back to Flèche d’Or, which is one of the indie clubs in Paris where the group was playing that evening, we ascended the long hill on the rue de Bagnolet and the group casually segwayed into the song Holy. There’s something robust and skyward about this long sequence : Eagle Seagull climbs the slight incline as if it were only natural to sing Holy in such a ritualistic way. They’re all whistling as they pass by mothers, young girls, and friends. The drummer taps and hits all the iron storefronts and caged shutters, Eli leads the group as naturally as possible, and the violinist whispers the lyrics, always far off and enchanting. Vincent Moon’s camera became a member of the band, throwing a look onto every passing element on the way, giving particular attention the rose vendor, and nearly crashing onto the pavement before reintegrating back into the group.

Before arriving back to the Flèche d’Or, the band jumped into a final song, kicking it off choir-style, building up and then falling into laughter, only to mend back together in the end. They finish off in front of the venue, lined up like a parade with the look that summarized our hour spent together : completely natural.

- La Blogotheque - www.blogotheque.net

"New Video from Eagle*Seagull"

October 23, 2006

Watch the video for "Photograph" from this Nebraska-bred art-pop sextet.

Lincoln, Nebraska's Eagle*Seagull channel the art-pop sensibilities of contemporaries like Wolf Parade and the Arcade Fire on their engaging, emotionally-wracked self-titled album. They've found an edge-of-desperation yelper in frontman Eli Mardock, and the rest of the band's haunting instrumental grandeur ups the angst with aching and intense nuances. Though the video for lead-single "Photograph" is sepia-tinted, the song does its part to awaken listeners from a monochrome slumber into a world of Technicolor.

- Spin.com

"Album Review"

Eagle Seagull
Eagle Seagull

Fuck “Mr. Brightside” and all that excitement about the stupid guitar riff at the start, Eagle Seagull’s “Photograph” has got the best pop hook I’ve heard since “Baker Street.”
Some of it is like The Shins listening to too many obscure Pink Floyd records, some of it is like the Moody Blues falling asleep in ‘68 and waking up in 2004. A lot of it sounds like there wasn’t a record executive nearby to instigate some quality control. It’s sprawling and self-indulgent, but thankfully Eagle Seagull know a good melody when they hear it. There’s plenty of sweetened epithets and cut-above pop in here to occupy the 20-somethings who’ll find Eagle Seagull to be their new speciality coffee.
- Kid Lupin
- Tangible Sounds - Canada


My experiences so far with Eagle*Seagull have been like something out of a bad sitcom. I got sent some songs from their self-titled album about a month or two ago, but didn't get a chance to listen to all of them. From that point onward, it seemed like I would read about them online roughly every week or so. So this post is in honor of the fact that sometimes I'm amazingly slow to get around to listening to bands.

MP3: Eagle*Seagull - Your Beauty Is a Knife I Turn On My Throat
Great song title, huh? If the romping piano intro doesn't grab your attention, then you still have to face a wide variety of catchy components. For starters, the lyrics are wonderful. I don't know if girls are aware, but sometimes it seems like the English language isn't broad enough to explain how you make us feel. But E*S prove that maybe we're just not trying hard enough to put the words together. Not only does the knife metaphor work perfectly, but the melody's super catchy as well.

MP3: Eagle*Seagull - Photograph
I most frequently hear E*S being compared to Arcade Fire, and I think this song is the reason. I can hear a good comparison in the vocals and maybe the piano melody is a bit AFish, but they're definetely two different and distinct bands. I will concede that the impact of this song on your ears will likely rival some of the tracks on Funeral.

All in all, Eagle*Seagull were a huge shock. Honestly, I hate the name. Thankfully their music is strong enough to support the band from my superficial judgement. I think they show extraordinary potential and I'm really looking forward to hearing what they've got in store for us. - You Ain't No Picasso Blog - USA

"Eagle*Seagull 2.0"

My favorite IGIF reader and all around asshole (I mean that as a compliment), jerkstore, whom I'm sure you're all familiar with, notified me however indirectly of a re-release of Eagle*Seagull's selt titled debut album. The new release has been spiced up a little bit here and there, mainly with the addition of strings. On some of the songs, such as their remarkably beautiful "Holy," the addition is a nice one. On others, such as "Photograph," the addition sounds jarring and unnecessary.

Eagle*Seagull has been an IGIF favorite since we were in diapers. We've been with them since day one of their blog buzz, and we'll most certainly continue the support, despite the fact that I feel the rerelease was pretty much unnecessary, and probably just to try to score a Pitchfork review. However, like I said, some of the songs benefitted from the tweaking... so what's done is done, their music is still beautiful, and still deserved of all of your praise.

Just for shits and giggles, here are the two aforementioned songs in their respective release versions:
- I Guess I'm Floating Blog - USA

"Fensepost Review"

When I first heard Eagle Seagull, I named them a must hear band of 2006. That was months ago in a small Eastern Washington college-town called Pullman. I reviewed their debut album, Eagle*Seagull for KZUU and after all this time, it appears the band is finally gaining some traction. And all of it is warranted.

Fans of Sub Pop's Wolf Parade might enjoy the vocal tracks, though the backing music is much more mellow and comforting. It's a mesmerizing mix that is both calming and heartbreaking.

"Photograph" takes these contrasting elements and effortlessly makes them one. The percussion commences at a rapid pace, complimenting a keyboard fronted instrumental section. The lyrics are stark with emotion: I must say you make me constantly aroused / It's the way you're always smiling... again after the song slows down: So what if I carry your photo around with me everywhere / I don't care / It's not such a bad thing to do / And so I try and I try to do what you tell me to do / I try I try to forget about you.

"Your Beauty is a Knife that I turn on my Throat" is a peppy track with the signature vocals described above, remaining upbeat despite such a dire title. A catchy piano part takes precedence over guitars throughout the song, keeping it light but for the slow melodramatic mid-sections. "Hello Never" draws from more country-style influences with twangy guitars and a laid-back shuffle in the percussion.

I clearly remember the first time I listened to Eagle*Seagull; I was sitting alone in my room with the door shut, working on an extensive essay for one of my MBA courses. As the first track played, I stopped typing, stopped pouring over books, stopped thinking... and just listened. You know a band is good when you virtually cease to exist just so you can hear one more note.

- Fensepost.com

"Der Provinzgenius und seine verschworene Clique"

Der Provinzgenius und seine verschworene Clique

Das Debütalbum der Band Eagle*Seagull aus Nebraska klingt nach durch Außenseitertum gestählten Snobismus und nach einer Melancholie, die nicht langweilig wird. Eine Platte mit vielen kleinen klanglichen Überraschungen.

Vergleiche sind die wichtigste Währung im Popjournalismus. Machen wir uns den Spaß, die Band Eagle*Seagull einzuführen, indem wir alle Bands aufzählen, mit denen die fünf Amerikaner zuletzt verglichen wurden: The Cure, vor allem deren Sänger Robert Smith, Pavement, Wilco, David Bowie, Modest Mouse, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Decemberists, The Elected, Pavement, The Arcade Fire, High Llamas, Tindersticks, Gilbert O‘Sullivan, Townes Van Zandt und die Scissor Sisters. Verwirrend und widersprüchlich. Trotzdem alles wahr. Aber auch wer „In Every Dream Home A Heartache“ für den größten aller Roxy-Music-Songs hält, wird bei Eagle*Seagull Vertrautes entdecken. In den Zeiten des Internets dürfte es eigentlich keine Weltgegenden mehr geben, die in der Windstille der globalen Hypes liegen. Orte, wo eine Band unbehelligt von täglich wechselnden Moden ihre ganz persönlichen abseitigen Macken pflegen kann, bis sie schließlich reif und gefestigt über die Stadtgrenzen hinauswagt. Sogar der US-Bundesstaat Nebraska ist dank des in seiner Hauptstadt Omaha beheimateten Plattenfirma Saddle Creek längst auf der Weltkarte der Rockmusik verzeichnet. Omaha ist nicht allzuweit von der Universitätsstadt Lincoln entfernt, aus der Eagle*Seagull kommen.Aber irgendwie hat man beim Anhören ihres Debütalbums doch das gute Gefühl, einer verschworenen Clique zu begegnen, die ein Provinzgenius (Sänger Eli Mardock) um sich gesammelt hat, um seine traditionellen musikalischen Fähigkeiten (die Mutter zwang ihn früh ans Klavier), seinen durch Außenseitertum gestählten Snobismus und seine ebenso ab- wie vielseitigen musikalischen Vorlieben zu pflegen. Jedenfalls haben sie sich alle nicht viel darum gekümmert, was bei ihren schlichteren Altersgenossen in den vergangenen 15 Jahren so angesagt war und haben stattdessen lieber vorurteilsfrei in den Plattenschrank der Eltern oder älteren Geschwister hineingehört. Nach den 80ern klingen sie nur, weil damals viele Gruppen schon wieder anfingen, sich bei 70er-Jahre-Bands der Vorpunk-Ära zu bedienen. Mardock selbst behauptet, er habe schon „als Kind“ die Songs von Leonard Cohen aufgesogen. Da muss man wahrscheinlich so werden. Das Album, das so heißt wie die Band „Eagle*Seagull“, ist ein herausragendes Dokument weißer Gymnasiasten-Melancholie. Aber es ist kein Gejammer. Eagle*Seagull sind vielleicht nicht die größten Songschreiber des neuesten Jahrtausends, obwohl sie mit „Photograph“ einen echten potenziellen Hit haben. Aber mit Sicherheit gehören sie zu den begnadetsten Arrangeuren eigenen Materials, die es derzeit gibt: Immer, wenn man denken könnte, jetzt sind sie von der eigenen Traurigkeit total autistisch ergriffen, kommt irgendeine kleine klangliche Überraschung, die beweist, dass sie noch ganz genau wissen, was sie tun: die Country-Akkorde auf „Hello Never“ - das gar kein Country-Song ist, das walzernde Piano auf „Death Could Be At The Door“, das Geräusch prasselnd verbrennenden Holzes auf auf „Ballet Or Art“ und die gepfiffene Melodie auf „Last Song“. Die beiden Gitarristen zelebrieren mal die Sounds und die Sucht nach Breaks und Tempowechseln, die im Progrock (der in den 70ern natürlich noch nicht so hieß) typisch waren, mal fangen sie einen Song („It‘s so sexy“) mit einem Gitarrensound an, wie ihn Neil Young etwa in der „Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere“-Zeit nutzte.Eagle*Seagull waren bald nach ihrer Gründung im Jahre 2004 Lokalmatadoren in Nebraska. Sie wurden ein Internet-Gerücht, sofort nachdem eine dortig Plattenfirma ihre erste CD mit zunächst nur tausend Exemplaren veröffentlicht hatte. Nun hat das deutsche Label Lado das Album endlich auch für Europäer verfügbar gemacht. Im Februar kommen Eagle*Seagull auf Deutschland-Tournee. Mardock hat angekündigt, dass sie live noch einmal ganz anders klingen. Man traut ihnen alles zu.Eagle*Seagull: Eagle*Seagull (Lado)
- Die Welt - Germany

"Album of the Week"

Das Nebraska-Sextett „Eagle*Seagull“ vermengt Indie-Attitüde mit kunstvolle, Glam-Pop und erinnert an die Nachbarn von „Bright Eyes“

Der Begriff Art-Pop ist seit dem Debutalbum der britischen Spaßformation „Art Brut“ wieder in aller Munde – auch wenn der Zusammenhang nicht so recht passen will. Denn wo die vier Londoner vor allem ihre private Begeisterung für moderne Kunst zum Ausdruck bringen, haben zeitgenössische Art-Popper ganz anderes im Sinn: die eigene Musik zur Kunstform zu erheben.

Eagle*Seagull gehören zu dieser Band-Gattung. Die Musik des Sextetts aus Lincoln, Nebraska ist alles andere als regelkonform und trotzdem – vielleicht aber auch gerade deswegen – äußerst angesagt. Ähnlich den hochgelobten „The Arcade Fire“ oder „Clap Your Hands Say Yeah“ wird die Band in Internetforen und Blogs bereits als heißer Geheimtipp gehandelt.

Wider alle Regeln

Der leicht verschrobene, stellenweise androgyn-extrovertierte Stil von Eagle*Seagull erinnert stark an den frühen David Bowie, Lou Reed oder den kunstvollen Bombast-Pop von Cockney Rebel. Die Musik lässt sich – und auch das hat die Band mit ihren Vorfahren und Kollegen gemein – in keinerlei Schema einordnen. Die Songs folgen nicht dem üblichen „Strophe, Refrain, Strophe“-Aufbau, sondern einer weitaus komplexeren Struktur ohne festes Gefüge.

Auch die Länge der Songs ist mit durchgehend über fünf Minuten alles andere als Radio- oder Chart-tauglich und daher nichts für das schnelle Hörvergnügen zwischendurch. Die Musik des kreativen Sechserpacks erfordert eine gewisse Einarbeitungszeit, die man ihr aber gerne einräumt.

Nachbar- und Artverwandschaft

Eagle*Seagull begeistern durch konsequenten Regelbruch und schlichte Andersartigkeit. Reduzierte Indie-Attitüde trifft auf kunstvollen Glam-Pop à la „Velvet Goldmine“ und provoziert unweigerlich Vergleiche. Nicht selten kommt einem bei den 11 Songs der Name Conor Oberst in den Sinn, der mit seinem Musiker-Kollektiv „Bright Eyes“ eine recht ähnliche Richtung eingeschlagen hat und mit jedem Album die Feuilletons aufs Neue verzückt. Vielleicht liegt das aber auch am Musik-Anbaugebiet Nebraska, denn Lincoln ist zufälligerweise das Nachbarörtchen der Oberst-Heimat Omaha ... - Focus.de Germany


Eagle*Seagull - Album - 2006 (Lado/Konkurrent/Paper Garden)

Photograph - Single - 2006 (Lado)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Art pop a la Blonde Redhead. The bittersweet sublime of David Bowie in something like “Hunky Dory”. The eccentricity of The Arcade Fire, the moods of Interpol, the casualness of Pavement. Eagle*Seagull have been compared to many artists and bands, yet they sound like none of them. This US underground season’s must-have record comes from five oddballs plus a lady, straight from Lincoln, Nebraska.

Lincoln, Nebraska? Never heard of it. Sounds like a musical wasteland, doesn’t it? Wrong: “Actually, Lincoln’s scene and that of Omaha are one and the same,” explains Eli Mardock, the band’s founder, songwriter, singer, booker, and so on and so on. Listen up: after all, Omaha, Nebraska, has become a household name across the globe with its Saddle Creek Label and numerous acts from Bright Eyes to The Faint, and counts as THE scene in America’s heartland. Neighbouring Lincoln must have just been overlooked up to now. “Admittedly, Omaha is quite a lot bigger, but Lincoln is a more liberal city. A college town where students make sure there’s a healthy scene. There are lots of venues for gigs and, with its 25,000 college kids in the city, it’s not so difficult to play at a sold-out club.”

So, it is a good place to find like-minded people. A band whose ideas do not stop at the usual reference points. “We started as a threesome: with JJ Idt (guitar, banjo), Mikey O (=Mick Overfield, bass), and me on the guitar. Our first songs still had an old-school country feel to them a la Wilco.” In the meantime, there are six people in the band, and old-school country has become just one of many starting points that eagle*seagull’s music heads out from in all sorts of different directions. Eli: “When I switched from the guitar to the piano, it completely changed our sound.”

Eagle*Seagull played their first shows in Lincoln and Omaha in October 2004. They soon started playing concerts regularly and caused quite a lot of hype in the Nebraskan scene. This, in turn, caught the attention of a certain Brian Vaughan: the former Sup Pop and Saddle Creek trainee was on the verge of founding his own label, Paper Garden Records, and chose eagle*seagull to be catalogue number 001. The occasional recordings they had made in his bedroom were compiled for the album and in October ‘05, one year after their first concert, eagle*seagull’s debut album was released on the new mini-label.

What happened next can only be likened to a buzz of almost Clap Your Hands proportions. Capital reactions in online forums, euphoric reviews in the underground press, listings in various “Best Of 2005” and “Bands to watch 2006” polls – there were too many to name all of them here. In the months that followed, our boys (and girl) from Lincoln progressed from just being a “hip name to drop”, and Paper Garden – although still without a national distributor – had to / was able to re-press the debut CD for the umpteenth time.

And all this turmoil – this has to be said – was caused by a band that doesn’t even fit into any existing genres – and that is precisely where parallels can be drawn to The Arcade Fire and Clap Your Hands. They created a world of their own. And their songs are so chart-hostile that they rarely stay under the 5-minute mark, preferring to reveal their secrets bit by bit. A sailor’s lullaby waltz “Death Could Be At The Door” provides the missing link between the Decemberists and “Disintegration” by The Cure. On the other hand, “Your Beauty Is A Knife I Turn On My Throat” features a music-hall piano, “Hello, Never” welcomes the lost cousin of Pavement’s “Range Life”, while the frantic “Photograph” chases The Arcade Fire through a New Order disco at fast forward.

Yet this too is just another mass of reference points that merely hint at what eagle*seagull really sound like. The question of direction has never been crucial for Eli anyway: “We love the songs and love each other. It’s great fun and that’s our main priority.” You wanna bet? We too will have lots of fun with eagle*seagull this season.

Following the acclaimed European release of their debut album in September 2006 and a hugely successful European tour in January/February 2007 (which took them from London to Zurich via 8 countries) the band is about to go into the studio with producer Ryan Hadlock (The Gossip, Blonde Redhead, Strokes etc.) to record their second album.