Tuesday 31 May 2022

Emotional Times: An Interview With Charlie Dowzell From UK Sludge/Stoner Rockers SAIL

UK Prog Sludge/Stoner Rockers SAIL are releasing their new song Emotion Motional Ocean on June 3rd 2022. I've been a huge fan of this band since I heard their celebrated debut album  Slumbersong back in 2017. 

With their "Pop" influenced take on Doom, Sludge and Stoner Rock. Shades of TORCHE, Mastodon and FLOOR embrace their musical output and their latest song EMO (for short) is quite different.

I caught up with Charlie (Guitar/Vocals) to discuss the evolution of the band, their new song, new sound and future plans.

Thanks to Charlie for this great in-depth interview.

Hi guys. Thanks for doing the interview. How are things with you today?

Thanks for having us back Steve! Things are good. I’m writing this at 10 to 11 on the tube. Visited a close friend in London who’s tying the knot tomorrow so very excited for that.

For folks not in the know, can you give a brief history of how the band came together and where it is today.

The short version is that Tom and I (Charlie), since jamming together as 16-year olds, sought out a guitarist and bassist and wound up meeting Tim at college and Kynan after Uni. The four of us have been together since 2014 and worked hard to produce Sail, the band we now are. And it’s all very exciting.

How would you describe your own sound? 

We get asked this a lot and always love answering these questions! Mainly because we don’t really know, and feel that we all have slightly different answers - and everyone else interprets us differently. We’re nostalgic, feelsy, grungy, loud as hell, love big choruses and giant chunky riffs. We sound like Sail.

You first grabbed my attention with your self titled debut album back in 2017. Were you happy with the response the album received? 

Aww, yeah Slumbersong was such a halcyon time for us. Our first proper album, per se. We’d recorded before but this was our first time in a proper studio and working with industry folks and it felt like the start of something. Looking back I can say it was. Since then we’ve gone from strength to strength , but the work we put in with that album and the very positive response it garnered was so worth doing. I didn’t for a second think Kerrang or Fenriz (amongst others) would pick it up, but life surprises you sometimes. On to the next one! 

Looking back, would you change anything about the album? 

So very much. Don’t get me wrong, at the time we were working well and it was a good result, but we often talk about how far we’ve come as a band, individual musicians and people, and how Slumbersong would have reflected that. I suspect it’s be quite a different album if we did it knowing what we know now. 

You’re releasing your new single Emotional Motion Ocean, What can people expect with this new song. 

It’s a statement of intent, we think. EMO is such a vibrant summer banger with a wicked chorus and some great musicianship. It’s so catchy and feelsy, we love it. Tim sings much more these days which gives me more room to be a guitarist and it’s so much fun. It’s full vibes and I think that comes across with EMO.

You’ve gone for a more slightly off-beat and poppy spirit for this release but still undeniably 
HEAVY and addictive. Is this the new style of music you’re aiming for future releases?

All I’ll say is watch this space for what is to follow! Our next release isn’t going to be a single, and it’s going to follow the EMO (and Flood) blueprints. Very exciting. EMO really captures our spirit as a band and it’s so much fun. We love to play it, we had a blast recording it. Life is to be lived, life is supposed to be fun. I think our future music will reflect this.

Speaking of future releases, will you guys be releasing an EP or a full length album in the future. 

Of course! I’ve already alluded to it, but yeah, our second album is in the works. It’s written and we’ve been for a pre-production day; aiming to record at the end of August. It’s been a long time coming but it’ll be worth the wait.

What was the writing and recording process like for the new song? 

The writing process happened really very quickly - Tim presented the song in an embryonic form during the lockdown periods (online, of course) and when we’re able to meet and has this out we did. It came together very naturally. Recording it was ace! We worked with Josh Gallop of Phoxjaw, who records at Stage 2 Studios in Bath. He’s our go-to guy, really gets our direction and sound. Recording with Josh is so easy and so fun - as it should be. I personally got to do some slide guitar layers, and there’s a take where I shout into the pickups and the guitar picked it up - really odd but very fun.

Did you do anything differently for this new song compared to your previous releases? 

I guess the previous answer touches on the is but we had fun with it! Not to say that the album and other singles weren’t; more that I think we’re embracing going hard in everything we do. Also, as said, I shouted into a guitar and Tim sang into a telephone converted into a microphone. All very odd.

Did you have challenges recording this during the pandemic?

We all encountered similar challenges, I think. Obviously the lockdown(s) prevented us from proactively being anywhere and doing anything, but we kept up our shenanigans digitally- not just with each other but with our fans. I did a livestream where I got mashed on wine and recounted events of the Battle of Stalingrad to a reasonably sized (and very engaged) audience. Recording-wise, the issue was finding the right moment! Luckily the so was oven-cooked and ready to record by the time we were able to mingle more freely; we were quick to schedule a session in with Josh.

The artwork is excellent and reminds myself of TORCHE in places. Who designed the artwork and how much input did you have into the overall design of this.

Thank you! Artwork is super close to our hearts (well, definitely mine). I love a good art piece. As with all our other works, it’s courtesy of Umbrelle, wonderfully talented tattoo artist, creative, and longtime friend based in Bristol. We is usually have a vague brief for Elle and she makes it her own - and I personally wouldn’t want it any other way. Our brief for this ended up being ‘sad crow boy smoking a cigarette in a botanical garden’. And the rest was all Elle, really.

COVID-19  pretty much put a stop to all life as we know it for the time being. How big of an impact did it affect the band? 

As touched on, it stopped any and all shows/live events, but we moved it a digital platform. We’d meet weekly and host a weekly livestream; we also had Mannequin int eh tanks ready to release (fortunately) so we pushed ahead and released it. We reached out to fans, friends and colleagues and loads of people sent clips in of their lockdown going’s-on. We made some new friends in the form of Chicago-based Scientist; our pals in Deity’s Muse from South Africa sent some clips in. And loads of our personal friends. It was genuinely fantastic to see!

Do you have any gigs or future tours planned this year at all. Anything you can share with your fans.

A few gigs here and there - playing Brighton next weekend, Bridgwater in June , Wrexham in October and a few others I’ve definitely forgotten. No massive tours or gigs planned yet - this year’s shaping up to be the calm before the storm, so to speak. I miss yours and I miss going hard, but 2023 will be the one.

Do you have any other musical projects outside of SAIL that folks can check out.

Not really! Kynan has a synth project under the pseudonym KynanDestroyer - he remixed Mannequin and is remixing EMO, too, which will be amazing. I’m pushing Tom and Kynan to get their 2-man grindcore project off the ground! At some point I want to do a blues EP, but we’ll see. Life is very busy.

Before you go, do you have any words of wisdom for your fans (such as myself) out there.

Thanks for reading! Especially f you got this far. Stay safe and be happy. Be excellent to one another, and party on dudes.

Words by Steve Howe and Charlie Dowzell

Thanks to Jade at Memphia Music PR & Management for arranging this interview and Charlie for answering my questions.

Emotion Motional Ocean will be available to buy digitally from June 3rd 2022.