City in the Sea: Below the Noise "Is about the Struggles and Stories of Life"

Last summer, local metal band City in the Sea was included in our list of 10 Bands You Need to See This Summer. Since then, the five-piece band has been scooped up by Sumerian Records, and toured the country incessantly, including a spot on the epic production that is known as the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Tour.

They also recorded their debut album, Below The Noise, which is dropping today, August 20.

Up On The Sun talked with vocalist Jeff Christian about the band's writing process, the mayhem on Mayhem, what lies ahead.

Ever since I saw City in the Sea live for the first time, I've included them in my list of favorite local metal bands. It may be off-putting to see them at first--the average fan in the mosh pit is not out of high school, which makes sense, since I think only two of the band members are even legal to drink.

But they bring a fresh, raw energy, driving talent and incredible breakdowns--stand-out tracks on Below The Noise include "The Purge," "Without an Answer," and Perfect Human." Check it out on iTunes today.

Tell me about the writing process for your debut album, Below The Noise. Did you guys write the majority of the songs before or after you were signed to Sumerian? Well, I think it was two years ago we went and showcased for Sumerian Records in LA and were offered a contract right on the spot. But since a couple of our members were too young, they weren't 18, they couldn't sign the contracts. So thankfully Sumerian waited for all the members to be of age and offered us the same contract.

About a year later we went to the studio to record, which was last summer. All 12 of our songs were done before we went in. It was crunch time between us getting signed and recording the album.

We recorded with Nick Sampson in Michigan. He's a musical genius. We went back and forth with a couple producers, and then Sampson mixed and mastered the album. Now, on August 20 after many years, it's finally coming out.

Did you guys have a concept going into writing? It's definitely not a concept album. Todd writes the lyrics, but I can relay the message that it's basically just about struggles and stories of life. We'll probably do a concept album in the future, but this one is our thoughts, ideas, messages and stories. It's very real.

We're not a negative or hateful band. We're not a religious band or anything, just trying to spread our message.

What are two songs that you are particularly excited for fans to hear? We're all extremely excited for it to come out. "Becoming Stronger" is one of my favorites. I'm in love with it--there are so many good elements. Our friend from Betraying the Martyrs, the singer, has guest vocals on that song, so I think that also sets it apart.

The album actually leaked last week, so kids are illegally downloading it. That sucks, but it's just how it is nowadays. At least they are hearing it. And people seem to be loving it. The more people who like it they will spread the word.

Yeah, illegal downloading it hits the smaller bands a lot harder. [Laughs] I was always one to illegally download, but now when it comes down to my band's music... You know, it comes down to first week sales.

It's all about the first week that determines the size of your future tours.

What was one of your favorite memories from touring on Mayhem? Mayhem was incredible. It was insane.

Most of the bands have buses, but we were in our van. There was no escaping the heat for us; it was extremely brutal. Every day was hot, everywhere.

Another band called Born of Osiris became some of our best friends. Luckily they let us on the bus to us their A/C whenever we wanted. Favorite memories? Playing everything was awesome. No one really knew who we were and it was a different crowd. Like the sweaty, metalhead dad type of people. People would wander over to our stage and see us and everyone seemed to have a great reaction.

And pretty much after the shows every night, there seemed to be a Mayhem afterparty. Like, there was a prom-themed after party. The bands with girls, they wore dresses and some of the guys wore dresses. There were lots of good times. They night parties were by far the best part of the tour.

It must have been awesome to be around all those artists--a great learning experience. What was one of the most important things you learned? We were definitely one of the smallest bands on the tour, if not the smallest. And watching all these big bands that we look up to or whatever... basically you watch them every day and see how good they are. It just inspires you to one day be like that.

There was this one band called Scorpion Child that played on the Sumerian Stage with us. They are like a classic rock band from Texas. Their singer was incredible. He would give me some tips, about how to conserve your voice for doing 30 shows one after the other. My voice held out until the very last show, [when] it just completely shot out on me.

So what are you guys up to now? We're in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on day 1 of a five-week tour. We got back from Mayhem and now we're on our way to New York to meet up with a band called Capture the Crown. After that I think we're gonna be home for a couple weeks, and then headed right back out for another month or two.

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Lauren Wise has worked as a rock/heavy metal journalist for 15 years. She contributes to Noisey and LA Weekly, edits books, and drinks whiskey.
Contact: Lauren Wise