São Paulo, July 2019: Seafret are some 10,000 kilometres from their hometown of Bridlington and things have taken a turn for the unexpected. As the duo approach the Fabrique Club, they see countless homemade Seafret t-shirts hanging over the streets. It’s hours until they’re due to take to the stage, but already there’s an endless queue of fans as far as the eye can see. And when they think they’ve seen the peak of their adoration, leaving the venue after soundcheck proves to be impossible as they’re barricaded in by the mass of fans waiting outside.
When it came to the show, says guitarist Harry Draper, “the shock was how loud the reaction was. It felt like we were at a One Direction show. I remember walking out and there was a wall-of-sound of screams that I didn’t think you could get out of people. It was insane.”
Vocalist Jack Sedman’s memory of the show is much the same as it must’ve been in that very moment. “I was like, holy shit!” he laughs.
If there’s a recurring theme in Seafret’s story so far, it’s this: expect the unexpected. They’ve headlined shows from South America to Russia; played shows with Hozier, James Bay, Kodaline and Jake Bugg; amassed 100 million streams for their breakthrough hit ‘Oceans’; and enlisted a famous fan, Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones fame, to star in the track’s video.
All of which is fitting given that fate offered a guiding hand in bringing the two musicians together. Jack hadn’t even thought of becoming a singer until his mum overheard him singing in the bath. After putting it off for a month, Jack stepped into an open mic night in the tiny East Yorkshire village of Sewerby. What turned out to be “the most intense night of my life” also forever changed its direction.
Harry was also there, in his case to play banjo in his dad’s bluegrass band. He was intrigued to see another teenager appear at what was a much older crowd. As he remembers, “Jack sat there nervous as fuck singing Paolo Nutini’s ‘Last Request’. You couldn’t hear his guitar, he was so nervous he was hardly playing it. But his voice shone through. It blew me away.”
Afterwards, Harry’s dad suggested the duo should meet up to work on some music together. That set in motion a chain of events that takes up right up to the present day. The pair discovered countless new artists through each other’s influence - The White Stripes, Tom Waits, Nirvana, Bob Dylan and Rodriguez to name by a few. Since then, that initial happy accident has led to one landmark moment after another: local pub gigs, Jack writing lyrics for the first time, moving to London to record and release their debut album ‘Tell Me It’s Real’, and touring the world.
In short, evaluates Harry, “Our bond got stronger and stronger.”
When Seafret approached the making of their forthcoming second album ‘Most Of Us Our Strangers’, their approach was evolutionary rather than revolutionary. The result is a confident collection: at points more dynamic, textured and groove-orientated without losing the raw intimacy that enamoured fans in the first place. “We don’t feel confined or boxed in or that we have to listen to anybody,” summarises Jack. “We know what we’re about and we know what feels honest.”
While their debut emerged over the course of a few years (the song ‘To The Sea’ was one of the first they ever wrote), the majority of this album was crafted over a seven week stretch in Glasgow with producer Ross Hamilton.
“It was basically all done in the same studio at the same time with the same producer,” says Harry. “It came very naturally. In terms of producing the tracks it was a case of: this is what we’ve got, how can we make it sound good? It sounds a lot more raw and it really feels like an album. We’re proud we did it this way.”
That approach is immediately apparent in the album’s opening title track. The dominant sounds are Jack’s soulful voice and Harry’s evocative acoustic guitar, but vocal harmonies, plaintive piano, understated beats and an undercurrent of synths flesh the sound out.
Jack prefers to let people interpret Seafret’s lyrics for themselves, so it’s over to Harry to introduce the sentiment behind the song. “You’re on the tube or wherever you are and no-one’s talking, they’re all looking at their screens. People are so vocal in social media yet so quiet in person. I think it’s very true.”
In the four years since their debut, Seafret have lost family members and seen relationships wither and blossom. While the album is broader than love and loss, it remains its dominant theme. “People hide how they feel and the things they’re going through in their day-to-day lives,” adds Jack. “We mask our emotions a lot of the time. You meet someone and you’re quick to judge them, but then we don’t know their story. The only way is to open up. Things would be easier and people would be less judgemental.”
The album’s recent single ‘Magnetic’ is the biggest leap from the Seafret of old, with boisterous drum patterns, alt-pop energy and Jack’s rhythmic, semi-rapped vocals. “I thought, am I going pure Pharrell on this track?” jokes Jack. “But we got it to a place where it sounds like Seafret.”
Another song which will add a fresh dimension to the band’s live shows is ‘Be My Queen’, which blends garage-rock dynamics and some Arctic Monkeys-style swagger to the mix. And at the other extreme is the back-to-basics ‘Girl I Wish I Didn’t Know’. That song is Harry’s personal favourite. “It’s as stripped back as it could be – guitar and vocals and nothing else. I felt it was important to do that with this record. Me and Jack are an acoustic duo at the end of the day. That song ties it all together.”
Seafret have big ambitions for the future (Harry: “I want to play The O2, that’s the dream”) but the real goal is to be able to keep on doing what they’re doing. For Jack, it’s simple. “I’d like to travel to as many places as possible and play everywhere that people want us to come. That would also mean that we can keep writing music that helps people and makes them happy.”
“When we started we loved doing it and that’s all we were thinking about,” reflects Harry. “It was like, we’ve got a gig at the weekend so let’s learn some more songs. We’ve been lucky in that sense, everything has come as a nice surprise. We get excited about what might come next rather than expecting it.”