Words: Jordan Gorsuch
“In the end it was nice because no one knew that we really existed so there was no pressure to put this EP out. Hopefully this will be the only time we have that luxury going forward.”
Frontman Phillip Reed of The Wind and the Sea explained the perks of working outside the sphere of expecting fans over the phone on a cold February night. I was instantly taken by the band’s wonderfully dark and menacing EP, No Evil, when I first heard it weeks ago.
The band heavily focuses on their rehearsals and takes practice very seriously. Phillip pointed out that many local bands in Columbus tend to play in the area too much and since it’s relatively smaller there tends to be a burn out in excitement from friends and fans. The Wind and the Sea have made it a personal goal to stretch out time between gigs and really in hone on their sound. They have opened for Future Islands and Cursive, clearly emphasizing quality over quantity.
“I grew up in a very religious household and studied philosophy in college and really fell in love with that line of critical thinking,” Reed disclosed. “I feel like that really did impact my writing; there’s a lot of this strange ideology that crops up in southern Ohio. It may stem from being in what some people would describe as ‘back hill’ or ‘lack of education’ but there are definite pros and cons of being raised in that sort of environment. “
Reed is firmly against some of the events and actions he witnessed while growing up with religion so prevalently, notably with how it manifests in politics. He is a self-described agnostic but despite his leanings still references and wrestles with concepts of religion in his daily life. He even plainly references this struggle on the opening track “Aging” warning that “As you age my boy / You’ll lose faith in God.”
“There are a lot of misconceptions, a lot of people hear things like that and think ‘wow this must be a Christian band’ or some people go on the complete opposite end and believe we’re atheists,” said Reed. “In reality, neither of those things are true but it is funny how people can hear little things like that and make large conclusions.”
Reed and his band have always been attracted to shoegaze and post-rock groups and those influences are palpable on their debut release. Atmospheric textures and dark, brooding bass create a haunting soundscape for Reed’s upfront, rock-influenced vocals. The Wind and the Sea broadcasts these niche genres through the lens of pop-inspired structures and create a product that is both unique and familiar.
A few weeks ago the band hosted their EP Release show at Ace of Cups in Columbus, Ohio. They nearly sold out the venue.
“For us in Columbus in the middle of February we couldn’t have asked for a better turnout. I definitely had some anxiety after I locked in on that date,” said Reed. “All our families came out to support us and that was awesome. I was really proud that they could see how many people paid to see us play, and realized that maybe people do give a shit about what we’re are trying to accomplish.”
Some members of the band studied music technology in college and the band programmed an entire light show sequenced to the music for the release show at Ace of Cups. Right before the show Reed found out one of his bandmates would have to miss the show.
“He is kind of like our own Brian Eno. He takes samples of the audio that is happening and play them on the fly and he also runs all the vocal effects,” said Reed. “It was our most technologically advanced show and the guy that knew how to run everything was gone. He got the call from the doctor that he had to report to the ER immediately because he has a rare thyroid disorder and he was on the verge of possible kidney failure. It was scary as hell, and luckily he is recovering and the show went well.”
Video for their performance documents a band comfortable in their own skin, commanding stage presence while intriguing the viewer. Warm, soft lights dance across their shadowy silhouettes, fading in and out like the currents of an ocean. “No Evil” is the standout track on the album and watching them perform it live with the coordinated light show only deepened my appreciation for its oblique lyrics and careening post-rock ending.
“I do think the lighting adds to the atmosphere of the songs. I remember sitting in a dark room watching the programmed lighting go along with the recorded songs and realizing this is some sort of living being,” said Phipps. “Having multiple stimuluses in succession and in tandem does support the music in a unique way.”