Seluah Is Back, Darker and Stranger

Alternative indie psych dub atmospheric doom rock band Seluah released their second studio album, “Phase III,” this week through Kentucky’s own Karate Body Records. “Phase III” is the follow-up to 2012’s debut full-length album, “Red Parole,” which saw the quartet reunite after an initial 2004 breakup. Drummer and vocalist Edward Grimes told The Voice-Tribune about their latest phase.

What’s been going on with the band since “Red Parole” was released in 2012?
Edward Grimes: Much of the core of this record was born while we were scoring a live showing of the Tod Browning/Lon Cheney (movie) masterpiece “The Unknown.” We have continued exploration of new material and have been on the lookout for unusual venues and contexts for us to play in. (Guitarist) Andrew Killmeier has also made some great films for many of the songs on “Phase III” that are a total blast. We are currently hiring a best boy or best girl to assist us live with the films, by the way.

View More: http://meaganjordanphotography.pass.us/seluahpromoSeluah went to “Hell and Back” on the last album, and now you’re “Back to Hell.” What’s the connection between those two songs?
EG: They are two of my personal favorite songs of ours, for sure. Andrew K. and I really dig Scotty Moore and Link Wray, and that comes through on those songs respectively, I think. Somehow to us, when Andrew came up with “Back to Hell,” we knew instantly it was somehow a follow-up to “Hell and Back,” and I died laughing when he plainly declared it “Back to Hell.” I love that name.

Is this album intentionally a more cohesive, more “classic” approach to the Seluah sound, as opposed to experimenting with rockabilly or other surprising influences?
EG: “Hell and Back” was no experiment. We just finally had an opportunity to record more songs, so there was definitely more variety in terms of instrumentation and style on “Red Parole.” We were, thankfully, very open to a lot of wild ideas at that moment in time. I do think “Phase III” has a more primal subterranean thread running through it. I probably didn’t think we’d ever go darker than “Red Parole.” Luckily, I was wrong.

How does Jamaican dub influence the band’s songwriting?
EG: It had a bit of an influence for sure in the early days. Now, not so much. But the incredible connection drums and bass have on really good dub is still something (bassist) Andrew Peace and I both continue to strive for, even if we’re less in that world now…

The track “Held So High Above Her Head” certainly has a dub-like ending. This is a track whose foundation was written around the (2002) EP, but we had come back to it. I finally wrote lyrics and a vocal melody to it, and we wrote new guitar parts for the ending section. Then (recording engineer) Kevin (Ratterman) was really able to go to town on a dub-like production for that part of the song, which was a total blast.

What does the album artwork say about Seluah?
EG: We fully embrace that our music is dark and strange, and certainly wanted that in the look of the record as well. A good friend of mine, graphic designer Cesar Perez-Ribas, helped us put it all together, and we eventually came back to a great picture that artist Aron Conaway took. We felt that could be this ominous focal point of the layout.

Has the band been back on track now for longer than the first run? Either way, do you still have that feeling of being reborn, or is it more routine by now?
EG: It’s probably been a tad longer this time around, although we practiced a lot more back in the day. I’d be lying to you if I said we have exactly the same fire and brimstone we had when we very surprisingly got back together, but it is still often very intense. We perhaps have caught ourselves recently coming close to falling into a routine, but have wisely changed up our method a bit in order to be in the moment more and foster new material. VT

Seluah will play at the Flea Off Market on the evening of Friday, June 5.