The Ojai Valley is no stranger to musical talent, long being a stomping ground for artists to kick up creative dust. Sea At Last is looking to stir up a tornado with its raw, edgy blend of fist-pumping rhythm and confessional lyrics. Consisting of songwriters Cohen and Tory Elena, this duo has been winding its way around the 805 and gaining a strong fanbase with riveting and memorable live performances.
Force of Nature
Initially meeting in Portland, Oregon, in March of 2011, Elena answered a drumming audition for a musical that Cohen wrote. The original plan was to take the show to Japan. The day that these two artists first collaborated, however, was the same day that the tsunami ravaged Fukushima. Devastated by the tragedy and devoid of a concrete plan, they did what any true artists should . . . they started creating.
“So we met up to cover some material for the musical and then found out the tsunami hit,” Elena recounts. “We were both sitting there shocked, and wondering what was next. So our band actually formed organically from that tragic day. We thought, ‘Well, let’s just play rock ’n’ roll and keep writing songs.’ ”
After giving all heart and soul to Portland, they let the winds of chance carry them to L.A., getting an opportunity to take up residence in Laurel Canyon. This allowed them the creative space to discover new facets of their collaboration and harness that magic. Once they had compiled a solid catalog, it was time to capture the results. After self-recording and releasing their first EP, The Wade, and touring behind it, they discovered their fanbase wanted more.
“We were living in Laurel Canyon, in this awesome spot, and working on our music,” Elena recalls. “We were doing demos and just really fine-tuning songs. And so we came up with our first full album and decided to record it in Austin.”
The duo embarked on the common songwriter pilgrimage to Austin, one of the great troubadour sanctuaries for professional recording. Settling into the fully equipped Red Horse Ranch Recording Studio, they began work on their debut album, Atlas, which they produced as well. One highlight is the foot-stomper “Mighty Flood.” Starting out with sparse arpeggiated guitar, the gravelly poignant lyrics float over tucked-back drums. Then the pedals click and the heavily syncopated beat comes in, reminiscent of The Black Keys or classic Zeppelin. And with call/response harmonies rounding out the breathing space, this rocker is ready to rattle speakers from bars to stadiums.
Ojai and Beyond
Elena and Cohen moved to Ojai in 2014, and quickly established relationships with several local venues. In addition to frequent gigs at The Deer Lodge, MadeWest Brewing Co. and Saloon BBQ, Sea At Last has gone on the road, and across the sea. Last year the duo embarked on a tour of the U.K., a taste of the “good life” and what bringing their talent trans-Atlantic could manifest. And with a new reason to get back on the road coming soon, another lucrative journey may be in the works.
Sea At Last is currently hard at work in the studio on its upcoming album, carefully refining the layers of its new compositions. Fitting perfectly with the band’s self-described genre of “cinematic rock,” one born from a love of atmospheric rock, classic rock and classical music (think Broken Social Scene-meets-Dylan-meets-Chopin), this recording is poised to bring even more dynamic qualities to Sea At Last’s already elegant soundscape. Right now Cohen and Elena are looking at a release date sometime in 2018.
“We’re working on our second album and getting really close to being done. Right now we’re in the final stages of recording, and then we have to mix it,” Elena explains. “And so leading up to the release date we will feature some singles, as well as music videos we plan on shooting.”
Fans who want to get involved have the option to contribute to the band’s grassroots crowd-funding campaign offered through its website. (Sea At Last will grant donors an exclusive digital copy of the new album.) Atlas was also recently pressed to vinyl and is ready for purchase.
Keep an eye on this rapidly rising band and check out one of its local shows to experience all that Sea At Last has to offer . . . before you need to fork over $600 at Coachella.
Sea At Last plays Saturday, Sept. 9, at MadeWest Brewing Co., 1744 Donlon St., Ventura. For music, upcoming shows and more information, visit www.facebook.com/seaatlastmusic/.