Right before the pandemic hit, London-based band Sea Girls were poised to make their next triumphant step. Henry Camamile (lead vocals, guitar), Rory Young (lead guitar), Andrew Dawson (bass) and Oliver Khan (drums) had just come off their first European headlining tour, playing 20 dates across the continent and debut tour of the US. Upcoming back home: huge sold out shows at London’s Brixton Academy and Glasgow Barrowlands. The London-based four-piece’s debut album, Open Up Your Head, was set for the summer, right before they played high profile main stage slots at UK festivals Reading and Leeds, Latitude, TRNSMT as well as a string of European festivals inc. Lollapalooza Berlin and Rock Werchter. Championed for spearheading the 2018 resurgence of great British guitar bands Sea Girls who are one of the most exciting young guitar bands in the UK had 2020 all mapped out. And then you-know-what.
During lockdown, Sea Girls did what they could to entertain their fans and continue their momentum, including acoustic gigs on Instagram Live and broke the Netflix party app with their fan sharing film nights. It’s a mark of the young band’s out-of-the-box success and of the passion of their fanbase, that last August they landed Open Up Your Head at Number Three in the UK album charts, nestling next to big guns Biffy Clyro and Taylor Swift.
But already Camamile – a searching, questioning, often self-deprecation writer – had opened up his head in a new direction. “It was actually quite a good thing to stop,” he says of the band’s enforced gigging furlough, “because we’d been going at it for three years.”
The band had played 200 shows when the pandemic hit, and released 44 tracks in 4 and a half years (that averages a track every 37 days).
They released their latest album, Homesick, in March this year.
“Homesick embodies the need to fit in somewhere,” said Camamile. “It’s a feeling I have of belonging – whether that be with another person, life on the road with my best friends, being back at home with my family, or even in a story like Lonely – it’s really about remembering that. I’ve always wondered where I belong and what my identity truly is – none more so than during the writing of this album. I’ve aired these feelings in the most honest way I know how.”
At the start of Lockdown 1.0 Camamile retreated back to his parents’ house in small town Lincolnshire. Being stuck “proper in the middle of nowhere”, back in his teenage bedroom, full of his teenage stuff – “school things and old guitars. But I’d already taken the teenage posters down,” he claims with a laugh.
He was instantly productive, hitting paydirt with a new song written on the first day home.
“It’s one of the most important songs I’ve written. It defines my philosophy at the moment,” he says of a song written from the perspective of a sober Camamile reflecting on his time taking drugs and, now, choosing glorious life over mindless oblivion. “It defines what I’ve been upset about. While writing a lot of the songs I had this intense feeling of being alive and staying alive – I already know a lot of people who have died.”
The band eventually wrapped up that long overdue sold out UK headline tour, two years in the making, to rapturous response, and are now due to embark on their biggest ever shows in November, including London’s Alexandra Palace, bringing them to O2 Guildhall Southampton on 23rd November. Their debut record also hit 30,000 OCC sales to make it a BRITs Breakthrough album.
As for Homesick, “This album, and the title, are the consequence of going home,” reflects a musician who’s found his voice and his feet in a time when the world shifted horribly on its axis. “Of sitting in that meditative state on your own, feeling grounded, feeling connected to that nostalgia and that sense of belonging. It’s almost like being aware of what’s made you. And you’re not avoiding it any more. It’s clarity. And it felt liberating to write about that.”
Overall, he concludes, “there’s a positivity in the music, and in me. The rest of my life is just beginning.”
- Sea Girls are at O2 Guildhall Southampton on November 23. To book tickets, click here.
The full The Hometown Tour dates are:
Thu 17th Nottingham, Rock City
Fri 18th Birmingham, O2 Academy 1
Sat 19th Glasgow, O2 Academy
Tue 22nd Cardiff, University Great Hall
Wed 23rd Southampton, O2 Guildhall
Fri 25th London, Alexandra Palace
Sat 26th Manchester, O2 Victoria Warehouse
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