Having last year put out an EP, A Higher Place, Tombstones In Their Eyes are now back with a new full-length album, Sea Of Sorrow. The group’s unique, hypnotic style is rooted in psychedelic rock with fuzzed-out guitars and heavy reverb. Strong, melodic songwriting is of equal importance, and Sea Of Sorrow shows them taking that forward with more depth and complexity. We interviewed singer/guitarist John Treanor in 2021 and recently spoke to him again for an update.
Could you talk about the making of Sea Of Sorrow, and how it compared to the previous album?
John Treanor: During Covid, things got a little slower as far as it being harder to get in to record. But I was writing a lot of songs at home, and as a result, we ended up with a huge backlog of songs – at one point, close to 30. So, we released an EP last year to get some of those songs out there and to have something released while we worked on the main album, which is this one. This album really is the cream of the crop of all those songs.
My usual recording process involves recording guitars and scratch vocals at home, and then going into the studio to record live drums, bass, and real vocals, as well as mixing. As far as content goes, I feel like it’s becoming more personal. I’m bringing more of myself into the music, and some of it is semi-autobiographical.
Was it obvious what material would go on the EP, and what would be saved for the album? Were you saving the best for the album? Did you feel there stylistic differences that determined how they were grouped?
John Treanor: There were a couple of things that could have been on the album but ended up on the EP instead. I didn’t really save everything. “Wise,” one of my favorite songs, was on the EP but could have been on the full-length record. Another one, “I’m Not Living in Fear,” also could have made it onto the album. But in the end, I just chose the songs that I liked the best. I didn’t really think about it in terms of style because everything I write fits within the Tombstone style. So, it’s more about personal preference than anything else.
Were you again collaborating long-distance with James Cooper this time around?
John Treanor: Yeah, he’s still my, sort of musical, what do I wanna call it? Conscience. <laugh> He provides sort of scratch electronic drums on some of the songs. He also contributed to this album by writing parts for some of the songs, such as the music for “Bride,” which I added vocals and guitar to. Another song, “A Way Out,” features a cool guitar part that he came up with. So, we’re still collaborating, and I give him some credit on each song no matter what, you know, just for being there, <laugh>
Last time I interviewed you, you said you were doing a pretty limited number of live shows. Has your attitude towards live performance changed at all?
John Treanor: Things are changing now that things are opening up. We’re going to do our first live show in about a year on May 18th with a couple of other Kitten Robot artists, Kira and CrowJane. After that, once we’re sort of live-capable, I’ll look for more shows, but we’re not going to be a weekly playing band. It just doesn’t fit into my life at this point.
Kitten Robot seems to be a really interesting label. How did you get involved with them and what is it like as a band being on that label?
John Treanor: Well, we’ve been recording at Kitten Robot Studios since almost the very beginning. The first record was recorded at a different studio, but then when it came time to mix, I wasn’t really getting what I needed, so we ended up at Kitten Robot Studios which is owned by Josie Cotton and run by Paul Roessler, our producer of many years. So when we ended up there, we’ve been there for a long time because Paul and I have a great working process. When they started a label, I naturally wanted to be on it. At that point, we were on Somewherecold and I talked to Jason at SomSomewherecold and said, “Look, we may be signing up to a different label because they can provide us a little more support.” Fortunately, Josie was good with us being on the label and it’s a natural fit.
Paul Roessler has quite an interesting musical history. What do you think he brings to it as producer?
John Treanor: He is a genius. That word is thrown around a lot, but he truly deserves it. He is a musician’s musician who understands and is just magical with vocals, keyboard parts as needed and background stuff. He’s really good at getting the best performance out of me vocally. He is very patient with me. Given his history and experience, having been in some really cool bands, he’s a fixture in the LA scene. I’m honored to be able to work with him.
I’ve seen ’shoegaze’ used to describe your music and that term seems to be getting thrown around a lot lately. Do you feel it has relevance to your music?
John Treanor: No, not really. I guess at some points we’ve been shoegaze-y, but I really think the term is overused. I consider us more of a psychedelic rock band, but even that category doesn’t fit us perfectly. We have our own sound that doesn’t really fit into either of those categories. We do use a lot of pedals and such, but honestly, most shoegaze bands that come out these days don’t appeal to me because they’re all trying to sound like My Bloody Valentine or Ride. We’re not that.
Is there anything that you’d like to add?
John Treanor: It’s weird with this band. I’ve seen it evolve musically over time, and that means I’m evolving, I guess. And even though my skills are limited, it’s like the deeper I get into this, the better our records are becoming. Unlike a lot of bands where their first record is the greatest and then they kind of go downhill. I think we’re actually on the opposite trajectory. I just wanted to throw that in there.
For more info and to purchase music, visit tombstonesintheireyes.bandcamp.com.