Monday, June 30, 2014

Interview with Cameron Miller from Seizures, Sun Terrace Records

I had seen the name Seizures around a bit, but I first checked them out around the end of last year when their new record “The Sanity Universal” hit the web. I remember listening to a few songs and thinking it was pretty good. Then it was announced that they would be releasing the record on vinyl via Melotov Records and Sun Terrace Records (their singer’s label); then my friend Steve came home from tour in California and said they were awesome; then I noticed they were doing multiple weekend runs with the dudes in Run With the Hunted. In other words, all evidence was strongly suggesting that I needed to investigate further.

After spending some more time with “The Sanity Universal”, it became abundantly clear that Seizures is a monster of a band, and that TSU is a sprawling, massive record.

I needed to know more, so I got in contact with vocalist Cameron Miller, who started the band and also runs Sun Terrace Records, who was more than happy to fill me in on the band, the label, etc.

If you dig bands like Premonitions of War, Converge, Curl Up and Die, early Coalesce, etc. then do not sleep on Seizures.

To get things started, talk a little bit about how you got into punk and hardcore. Obviously Orange County has a storied scene that goes back a couple of decades, so what were some of the first bands/shows that you went to/that made an impact on you?

I think I was first exposed to it through skateboarding. My older neighbors used to bring their boom box (haven't said that in years) and play CD's while we skated curbs and our shitty homemade ramps. They would always blast the Punk O' Rama comp, Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, NOFX, etc. I think just through their influence, skate videos, and Tony Hawk on PS1 is where I was first introduced, but I don't think I really understood it until 5th grade. I went to private school and this kid showed me GBH, Subhumans, The Ruts, Poison Idea, and a bunch of other shit my mom loved to take away from me.

And then I got into hardcore when I moved into a new neighborhood and my friend's older brother was straight edge. He always had his red walkman with him and would burn me CD's for $5. He eventually started his own hardcore garage band and we went to see them at a high school battle of the bands. He started taking us to other shows around that time too. I think the first show to make a real impact on me was seeing Bleeding Through at a church by my house. There were like 800 kids there. It was nuts. That's when I became obsessed.

Man I can't imagine getting into stuff that young, haha. Over the years as punk and hardcore became a bigger part of your life did she/has she become more accepting of the role of music in your life or has it remained a source of tension?

It's funny because just this weekend, she saw Seizures for the first time and she loved it. I haven't really been in trouble or done anything ridiculous in 10 years so things have mellowed out.

I saw you guys are playing that final Bleeding Through show later in the summer. How surreal is it to be playing that show given that they were one of the bands you grew up on?

Yeah it's very surreal. Grew up on them and now they're good friends. Stoked they asked us to play their final show.

I know for me I had been going to shows for years before I decided I was ready to try to start my own band. What did the transition from consumer to producer of music look like for you?

In the early 2000's in South Orange County, each surrounding high school had a hardcore band or 2 and they made it look easy and obtainable. I used to think "Wow, that dude is in my English class and he's opening for 18 visions at Chain Reaction". 

Around that time an older friend started his own band and they were quickly getting recognition within the metal-core scene, so I did my first guest vocals at those shows (2004/2005). He had me fill in for 3 shows and that was my first real experience. 3 years later I started Seizures.

I always get pumped when I see people in bands start their own label, seems like more of an investment (literally, haha) in what they do. What prompted you to start Sun Terrace? Was it more to put out Seizures stuff or other bands?

I actually never intended to start my own label. One of our ex-members signed (more like a handshake) Seizures to a label without asking any of us one night and they said they would take care of the Colombian Necktie/Seizures split. The guy never cared, called us, or anything so I took us off the label. We sat on those masters for 3 months and were sick of promoting the old album when we didn't sound like that anymore. After I got a decent tax return and couldn't find another label to help us, I decided to just release it myself. 

I had a media company when I was younger called "Sun Terrace Productions". I would film baseball games for little league teams, edit stuff together and sell them to the parents. I was also making skate videos and skits with my friends. Sun Terrace is the street I grew up on and it's where I filmed most of my sponsor videos for skateboarding. I didn't think I would release anything else so I just so I figured I would just name the label that too. 

I watched a documentary on New Order and their label Factory Records and I was inspired by that to really do things my own way. STR's first release was the split and the 2nd release was shirt designed by my friend Ole who lives in Norway. I'm going to catalog our tour van as an STR release as well. But at the moment I'm trying to do my part and revive the Orange County scene. For now I'm focusing on releasing only demos and 7"'s from new OC bands to create a community again. 

So yeah, life happens when you're making other plans and you end up doing something you never thought you would.

Alright so onto Seizures itself. How long had you guys all known each other and what were the circumstances that brought you together? What was the initial vision for the band in terms of what you wanted the project to be like?

I've known Albert and Nathan for 12 years, Ian since 2009 and Cody since 2011. Albert and I were always good friends; we went to school and skated together. Nathan is his younger brother and he would always come and hang out. They had a youth crew band called Break The Chain back in 2006, I had my failed projects and we always talked about working on stuff together. 

We finally practiced in May 2009 but didn't pick it up again until early 2010. Growing up I had an epilepsy disorder and I eventually grew out of it, but over the years I've had a few episodes and one of them almost took my driver's license away. I was afraid that I might start having them again regularly and I started writing about them. I thought it would be cool to start a band that I could use as an outlet for some of the stuff I was going through and only played in the dark, at house shows, d.i.y. venues, outside with generators, or in empty pools and announce all of the shows the day of. 

I just wanted to record a demo or full length that I was proud of and call it a day. I never thought about taking it seriously or even touring until we started getting reviews overseas and asked to play with some of our favorite bands. So it's been cool to see it change and look back at the original plan and see how far we've come. We're just challenging ourselves musically and writing stories about our lives.

I read elsewhere that the lyrics for "The Sanity Universal" deal with ideas around mental illness, despair, etc. What would you say are typically the things that prompt you to write and who would you say some of your favorite lyricists are?

Like I said before, we're writing stories about our lives. There have been a few moments where I can't find the words to describe a situation, let alone even want to bring it up. But having a best friend to collaborate with on lyrics has been "therapeutic", haha. Some of the songs are about me and others are about Albert. It's tough to go into too much detail but now those stories are out in music form. My favorite lyricists vary from David Bowie to Wes Eisold, Nick Cave to Moz, too many to list.

I also read you guys spent nearly 6 months recording TSU, which on one hand I would imagine was a blessing because you could make sure everything was perfect but which on the other hand could be a curse in that it would seem never-ending and completely life- consuming. Looking back on the recording process, what do you feel you learned as a band and what, if anything, would you do differently?

I wasn't expecting the recording to take that long at all. I thought it would take 2 weeks at most since we recorded our demo in 1 day, “Antipathy” in 4 days, and our split in a week. The studio was only 20 minutes from where we live and 5 minutes from my work so it wasn't as bad as it sounds. I think we probably spent a total of 30 actual days recording but due to scheduling conflicts we had to spread it out. 

It was frustrating at times but it was ultimately one of the best experiences for us. Rollie (our engineer) gave us the time and space to really experiment and lose our minds (in a good way). We reworked and revised songs a few times and they came out better than we originally planned. I would definitely do it again.

I remember seeing TSU hit the web towards the end of last year, and then a few months ago it was announced that the record was going to be re-mastered and released via Melotov. How did you guys wind up joining forces with Mel?

Yeah we released the record ourselves just to get it out there as soon as possible. And just like the split, we were technically a new band with our matured sound. We had a few offers to release TSU but the first offer came from Melotov. Melanie and I had been friends for about a year before that and she wanted to work with us at some point. During the recording I talked to the guys and said let's just release this ourselves, we have a new sound, new live performance and it will be like a demo for the things to come. 

Since the album is almost an hour long it had to be a double LP and for those who don't know, that's an expensive project. I was talking to Mel at our TSU cd release shows back in November and she brought the idea up to do a split release between my label and Melotov. So a month later I called her and asked if she would be interested and it's been awesome. 

Our friend Juan from Colombian Necktie got us in touch with Chris Common, the former drummer of These Arms Are Snakes to re-master the record for us. He has mastered records for The Mars Volta, Minus The Bear, Chelsea Wolfe, Isis, Palms, etc. so we were stoked when he said he wanted to do it. The vinyl is currently being pressed at the plant.

I know there's new material and even a new label in the works moving forward. What if anything can you say about the new material musically or lyrically as well as the label?

We signed to a new label in February but it hasn't been announced yet. It was a surprise since they have never worked with a band like us, but it's been awesome to have their support in what we're doing. 

As for the new material, it's more mathy, chaotic, unpredictable, and experimental. I think I have enough lyrics for 2 more albums at the moment; a lot of life has been lived since we started writing for TSU and I find myself writing things down daily. I'm excited to see how everything turns out. We probably won't record till early next year.

As far as Sun Terrace goes, you've obviously released the Seizures and Conheartist records and are teaming up with Mel to do the vinyl version of TSU, what other bands from Southern Cali should kids keep their eyes and ears peeled for?

Right now I'm trying to do at least one or 2 releases a year. STR is more for fun at the moment and I'll do something if it makes sense financially. In a few months, I'll be releasing a 7" EP for a new band called Red Curtain (ffo: Smashing Pumpkins, Duster, and Silversun Pickups). I wasn't planning on touching anything else besides the TSU double LP but they sent me the new EP they recorded and I couldn't turn it down. It was too catchy and unique.

Any chance us folks in the Midwest might have a chance to see Seizures at some point in the future?

Seizures plans to tour everywhere. We're just figuring stuff out and adjusting a few things before we do.

If people took just one thing away from your band; either seeing you live or checking out the record, what would you hope that was?

All I can really say is that the music is honest. I'm saying things I don't even want to think or talk about up there. I'm standing on a stage, recording my voice, and revisiting horrible things in my life again for the first time because of this band. I'm not sure if I want people to know certain things about me yet or at all, so I've never really thought about giving back anything. I love to find new (or just new to me) and original music I can relate to or that will completely throw me off and surprise me; bands that can make an impact on me and motivate me to create even more. So I guess if other people are looking for that when they see us or listen to us, I hope they find that.

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