Copyright © 1998 All Rights Reserved.
by Mary-Lynn McEwen
Cecil Seaskull with Lonnie James
Tuesday, June 2
As wispy-throated singer/songwriter Cecil Seaskull talks about her own incredible journey that began when two friends packed up the car and moved the Montreal native to Los Angeles, she compares her mental state to Alice in Wonderland. It was a new mystical adventure in the depot of broken dreams that is America. The land flashed by the windows like a moviescape, and our Canuck anti-hero fantasized her musical future in the City of Angels, a future that would eventually cross paths with Melissa Auf Der Maur of Hole, Rancid's Tim Armstrong and Ten Foot Pole's Steve Carnan.
At the journey's end, Seaskull knew she would find her heart waiting in the city that had stolen it, but could not have imagined how the kindness of strangers would shape her life.
"The first night I ever rolled into LA was when I was on tour with Nerdy Girl (her previous band), and I'd never been here and I always thought I was going to hate it, I was going to reject it - 'It's gross, it's Hollywood, it's superficial, it's toxic' - and I rolled in and went, 'Oh, my god, my heart is here!'"
And as Alice was accosted by giant rabbits and magical playing cards on her journey, so was Seaskull rescued by an assortment of talented musicians who formed a loose community of artists in the shadow of Hollywood's neon glow. After meeting singer/guitarist Armstrong at a Thanksgiving dinner three days after her arrival in California, Seaskull landed a job at Epitaph records and saw the Rancid frontman regularly at the office, often going for coffee with him.
"Tim would ring my doorbell at eight in the morning when I couldn't afford to eat and say, 'Let's go get some coffee,' and I'd say, 'I can't, really, but I'll walk you to the café,' and all of a sudden there'd be this plate of food in front of me and he's like, 'Y'know, just eat it, don't worry."
Seaskull also looked up an old neighbor form Montreal, Auf Der Maur, who regularly offered more food and support for Seaskull's musical projects. Eventually, the musical community expanded, and when it came time to record Whoever, her forthcoming album, Seaskull was surrounded by a wealth of talented musicians, many of whom ended up playing on the album as well as making meals for our heroine.
"The most interesting thing, the luckiest thing about being a creative person is it connects you to other creative people, and you get to do cool projects with each other. What each person brings to it is their heart with my heart, as a friend, sort of how we feel about each other. I pick a song that I think they could do something interesting with and they interpret me, basically, but through themselves," Cecil explains.
When it is released in August, Whoever will feature tracks with a mixture of personnel and styles. Some of the songs will feature a full band, some are just Seaskull with an acoustic guitar, and some are with one other person, be it Armstrong, Auf Der Maur, Carnan, or an assortment of other friends.
But when Seaskull debuts her new material in Calgary, we'll have to settle for just our Alice in Wonderland and her guitar, and right now, she wouldn't have it any other way.
"It gives me freedom to either play a song myself or with a band. I don't think there should be one set way a song is, anyway. A song has its own life and it does its own thing."
Sort of like the talking flowers, rabbits and playing cards.
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