Austin’s The Eastern Sea easily won the crowd’s respect at last year’s Summer Fest, so it’s no surprise the band returns this year for another set at this year’s Free Press Summer Fest, which runs June 5-6, 2010, in Houston’s Eleanor Tinsley Park. The band’s latest release, EPII, is available on iTunes and amazon.com.
In advance of Summer Fest, percussionist Zachary Duran answered a few questions for Houston Calling.
Houston Calling: The Eastern Sea put on an impressive performance at last year’s Summer Fest, and has played in Houston a few times since (including an in-store at Cactus Music). Were you happy with the response?
Zachary Duran: Thanks man. Yeah, it has in some ways. Since those shows, we have been playing to the biggest Houston crowds we have really ever played to. But at the same time it still feels like our friends are the ones making up a majority of the crowd. We have a lot of old and new friends from Houston that have always come out and supported us. And on the topic of Cactus Records, we are scheduled to play there again on June 4, the day before we play at Summer Fest.
HC: I think a lot of people, myself included, were surprised that we hadn’t heard much (if anything) from the band before. Is that something you guys struggle with–trying to get noticed in a time where music is so easily available and it’s tough to stand out?
ZD: It doesn’t surprise me, because for so long all of us have been playing music in bands that no one listened to, except our friends. But that’s part of the process. You play for a while at places where no one ever goes on a Tuesday night and then people maybe start to care. So it’s not really a struggle, it’s just what you have to do.
HC: Are you looking forward to this year’s Summer Fest? Which bands are you most looking forward to seeing?
ZD: I would be more excited, but everyone I want to see plays on Sunday and I have to go to Austin for work that day. But if I had to say some names and reasons I would go with this. Detroit Cobras because Sarah likes them. Fat Tony because he raps with us sometimes and his flow is hot. Caddywhompus because I like them and I like their music. I have my doubts about Girl Talk live, but what else is there to do at 10:35? And of course our friends the Wild Moccasins, but it appears as if Free Press Houston has turned us against each other, booking us at the same time. So I can’t tell you to see them!
HC: Austin has its place as Texas’ music city, gets a lot of press because of SXSW and ACL. Houston often goes unnoticed and a lot of touring bands often skip us when they come to Texas. Do you think Summer Fest will help change the music industry’s perception of Houston and Houston bands?
ZD: It’s a good start. Plus, Houston has some really great bands that could help push the city.
HC: The Eastern Sea has a couple of EPs out — any plans for a full-length release? What else is in store for the band in 2010?
ZD: Yeah, we’re working with an engineer/producer named Jim Volentine who has worked with a lot of really great stuff in Austin and beyond. We’ve been recording one new song, at two of the craziest studios we’ve ever seen. So we’re just going to see where it goes when that one is finished. It would be really cool to record a full length with him. We’re also going on an East coast tour in September, which we’re all really excited about.
HC: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?
ZD: Alaska is for Players meets Playground and then they grow up.
HC: What do you consider to be your primary musical influences and how do you think these play into your songs?
ZD: You know, we’re like anyone else. Any music you listen to is going to play some role in the music you make, even if you don’t realize it. So probably just the stuff we listen to the most. Our house has had the new National record in since it came out. That would probably be our biggest influence right now (although Tomas would probably say differently).
HC: What’s one album you’ve bought this year that you would recommend I check out?
ZD: Check out the new Dr. Dog album, Shame, Shame. I have already killed it for myself, having listened to it for three or four straight weeks in my car. Now I have to wait six months before I can listen to it again. Maybe you can still enjoy it. I would also say get Curse Your Branches by David Bazan. It came out in 2009, but is still better than anything I think has come out in 2010.
Here’s a mini-documentary on The Eastern Sea:
The Eastern Sea plays at Free Press Summer Fest on Saturday, 6.5.10, at 2:40pm on the Dos Equis stage. The band also plays a free in-store show at Cactus Music at 5:30pm on Friday, 6.4.10.