Black Seal's Robb Erwin Talks H.P. Lovecraft, Pinnipeds, and Sabbath
"I think when people see psychedelic, they think we're going to be Grateful Dead devotees, with ten people onstage playing extended jams. They're not expecting two people shouting over reverb and something more aggressive."
Once you hear the music of the Delray Beach duo, you'll understand that whatever it is the audience originally expected, what they got was even better. Erwin and singer/guitarist Astaroth Crowley are the two screaming over reverb.
The former was in a garage/punk band, Dirty Boxes, and the latter was a member of Kill Now and currently plays bass in hard-rock act Lavola.
When the band notes that its music is "heavy psychedelic," it means something more akin to early Sabbath. Its punk-rock roots, the blues, and garage psychedelic rock inform its current sound, as do bands like Butthole Surfers and Motorhead.
"We're glad to confound expectations," the drummer concluded on the subject.
Ohio-bred Erwin's been a drummer, for, he jokes, "150 years. Even before I actually played drums, I had this notion in my head that I was a drummer. I guess I never not thought I was." Growing up, he added, "I was one of those annoying kids who pounded on everything around the house."
According to the band's Facebook page, the members are influenced by H.P. Lovecraft. "There was an earlier lyrical inspiration," Erwin mentioned his bandmate's affection for the author. "They had this gothic-horror sensibility," clarifying, "That's not all what we're about." Their songwriting process is collaborative. They both work full-time, so when they get together a few hours a week, "ideas just come, and we just ride those," Erwin says.
The band's been around about a year and has so far recorded only a few live demo tracks with friend Evan Mui. But though he says they're still working on fixing those songs, they're definitely nothing to scoff at. Their music fuses genres, creating something enveloping and attractive, something originally familiar.
As for their name, we were hoping it referred to slick-skinned mammal swimmers. "When we came up with that name, one of the things we liked about it was that it was open to interpretation," Erwin says. It seemed, though, that the title refers to another kind of black seal. We were disappointed, but the drummer good-naturedly admits, "We're great fans of pinnipeds." So are we, especially black ones.
Black Seal with Miami's Black Jacket and Fort Lauderdale's the No. 13s at 10 p.m. Saturday, September 22, at Propaganda, 6 S. J St., Lake Worth. Admission is $5. Black Seal also plays Friday, October 19, at Speakeasy in Lake Worth with Black Leather Shaman.