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Photo By James Moses
Seluah

Seluah

Progessive Entrancement

By David Lilly

Try a little experiment: close your eyes and listen as someone else reads this article to you.

According to legend, somewhere out there a siren lives underwater. She surfaces at will, singing with a beautiful, alluring voice; beckoning men to join her. Fallen into her trance, they succumb to her seductive appearance and aura; she then uses her long fingernails to slay them. She is known as...Seluah.

Seluah, a band from Louisville, hopes people near and far will likewise be entranced by their music. Did they choose the name to represent their music as seductive and dangerous? Actually, synthesizer and samples artist and guitarist Andrew Killmeier has a friend who told them about the legend. However, according to guitarist and synth player (and perhaps one day "the legendary") Matt Johnson, "We dug the way it sounded. I consulted somebody and they gave me three different spellings of it, so we went with what looked best to us." Bassist Drew Peace clarified (exaggerating perhaps just a little), "We`ve seen over 150 spellings of it just on various advertisements for our shows because nobody can seem to get it right." Through that explanation, singer and drummer Edward Grimes sat patiently, allowing his bandmates to explain.

Four equals One

"We" is the key word with this band. There appears to be no leader per se and none of these gentlemen seemed to have any problem fitting their egos into the practice room. Seluah appears to be four equal parts that make up a creative and cohesive unit. Each member is passionate about his own role as well as what the band, as a unit, does. What they do is make very spacey, trippy and, at times, erotic music.

Seluah - From left, 'Andrew' Peace, Edward Grimes, Matt Johnson & Andrew 'Andy' Killmeier

When I confronted Edward regarding what their musical style is, his response was, "I definitely subscribe to the theory that any genre-fying is ultimately the listener's call. It's not something we're concerned with, honestly." That response left me as pleased as did the music on their eponymous debut EP.

All four musicians seemed reluctant to discuss their childhoods and whether there were familial or outside influences or events that inspired them to make the move from just listeners to musicians. That reluctance, I suspect, might've been due to there being little to tell. They're long-time friends that got involved in music during their mid teens. As Drew explained, "Ed and I were 14 or 15 years old and decided to become musicians because we were listening to Led Zeppelin approximately eight hours a day...guitar and drums; was going to be our band and we were going to make it to the top. There was a drum set in his basement and I borrowed a Hondo II guitar and accompanying plastic amp and we started rocking out in the basement."

To that, Edward contributed, "I sat up late one night and wrote my very first song and wrote out the guitar charts for Drew. It was entitled `Paperboy Blues.'" It seems that was an epiphanic moment for Edward, as he knew then and there he wanted to be a lead snare player.

Seluah Surfaces

Returning to the present, Grimes stated, "Sometimes Matt and I get into it a little bit because Matt's got a drum machine and it has some really awesome snare drum sounds, you know, so sometimes I have to take a back seat." Drew chimed in quickly to reveal, "For the record, that was a joke." The fact remains that Seluah is looking for a drummer. Is your heart beating like a drum to know why? During the interview, I heard a casual remark that Edward does not simultaneously play drums and sing when performing. When I queried him on that very topic, he modestly informed, "If I could pull it off, I'd do it."

Drew reminisced that during or after his time as basement guitarist to Edward's drumming, "Matt and I started playing music together, performing songs in a coffee house about evil, witchy women." Drew continued, "We've all played in different bands...there's probably the history of six bands here." Edward chimed in, "Drew, Matt and I played together as kind of a band, I guess. First we didn't play out...we were mainly just playing in each other's basements purely for the sake of playing music, which was great." If these guys were painters, Bob Ross would be smiling in his grave.

Edward recalled about his senior year of high school, "I met Andy and we started a band called Oval, with Brian Graham...and right around that time, Drew and I started playing together with another guitar player I knew..." They played a few shows, calling themselves Basement Fear, a blues-oriented band that played originals and covers.

Drew was diligent to point out that Edward has also spent a lot of time playing in another, better-known and tough-to-categorize band; you know `em, you love `em, they're Rachels and they're also Louisville-based. The pianist for Rachels also happens to be Edward Grimes' sister Rachel Grimes (for whom the band was not named.)

Drew pointed out that, "After high school, Matt started playing hand percussion, congas, stopped playing guitar..." Drew, also a bass player during his teens, then "stopped playing bass and it's really like we've started back on these instruments that we started on as kids. I hadn't played bass in five years." Matt hadn't played guitar for just about as long and, Drew continued, "We were going to start playing again and we were listening to totally different stuff." Having been Black Sabbath, etc. fans during high school, they found they, "still got that rock `n roll connection that we had as kids, but we're bringing in a lot of electronic influences because that's what we're listening to now."

Music Lessons?!

The round of applause was not exactly deafening when I tugged on their sleeves about music lessons. Andy admitted, "I went to music school for a week and realized that was enough," and starting at about age fourteen, "I played bass for many years" and he eventually got involved in classical guitar. Drew considers his one and only guitar lesson as 30 of the worst minutes of his life.

As for voice lessons, Edward hasn't had them, though you'd never guess that from his vocals on the band's EP.

Speaking of that EP

I did not bring up the topic of Seluah's EP. However, as Matt introduced himself and ad-libbed in his search for additional meaningful commentary, he mentioned, "keep in mind that it is an EP...that's the reason it's four to five minutes." Matt's a kidder. Actually, it's 22 minutes. The gist of his spiel was, of course, that it's only a taste of the music the band makes. Matt added, "We want to get things together more with drums and vocals...and start playing out more, but we don't want to be the type of band that plays every week at the same venue." When I mentioned that two local reviews of their disc criticized it only for being far too short, Edward explained, "It's a great problem to have. The thing is, when we recorded the CD and got it out there, we were thinking...we just really needed to put a record out. We weren't necessarily thinking `well, it's going to be really, really short,'" Shedding more light on the subject, he continued, "It turned out being that way and, of course, had we had more resources and time, it would have been a little longer. We would love to have had it be full length, but we decided to go with what we had." Apparently the humorist of the band, Matt chimed in, "Anybody reading this...a donation of five grand would be perfectly acceptable."

Edward wryly tossed in a bit of spandex philosophy about EPs. Regarding the short length of Crazy From the Heat, Edward claimed, "David Lee Roth said something like he figured you'd buy a record and there's only three or four songs you like anyway, so this way you're cutting right to the good shit...hopefully we're like that."

As if to validate that thought, Drew sarcastically added, "We base all of our decisions on David Lee Roth...he's a genius."

On That Note...

By now you're wondering if there's Seluah music on any compilation discs, right? Speaking of that very subject, the third annual Louisville is For Lovers compilation CD has what you're after. This is the second year in a row that Seluah has contributed material. This year's Seluah song is their little five-minute "ditty" called "Black Dress Revolution," a midnight hang-gliding song that is actually danceable and would be right at home on their EP or perhaps remixed for a full-length CD. Louisville is For Lovers Volumes 1 and 2 have been re-issued, so Seluah's 2002 contribution is available.

Tones, Tones, Everywhere are Tones

Delving into a bit of Seluah ideology, Matt proclaimed, "we like a sound that's new and innovative but has old school elements and we like emotional content in our music as opposed to just jamming out." A round-cornered ink balloon appeared next to Drew's head, with an arrow pointing to him, containing the words, "We don't want to sound like the soundtrack to a space movie, in terms of electronics," a sentiment Edward doesn't entirely agree with, but Drew continued, "you want to have one organic sound with just a little bit of space in it." Matt pushed this envelope a little further, interjecting, "A little space is good but you want to know humans are playing...we definitely want to have some meaning whether there's lyrical content or not...pretty sounds as good tones. We're about tones."

The Celluloid Segue

Film scores (not necessarily soundtracks) are often filled with tones. While Matt divulged that no band member is a virtuoso, he also revealed that their music is heavily influenced by film. They'd very much like for their music to influence films. Edward projected light on his thoughts, stating, "I think what would really please us is, whether it's independent or major, if it works. If (our) music really supported the film, nothing would turn me on more than that as opposed to whether or not it's a famous movie or not. I've been more inspired by film music the last five to seven years than I have by any other music." That has to do with the visual and aural relationship. Edward continued, "If that relationship works, the effect is just incredible." Drew closed the subject with a wink, claiming, "I'm sure David Lynch is a big reader of this publication, so, if he's reading this, we're ready for his next film."

Matt made it clear he would very much like to work on a Wim Wenders film.

An Excellent View

What about that striking imagery on the front cover of their EP? As Andy tells it, "They overlaid two of my photographs. Layout Edward Grimes, so it's all in-house. Ed expanded, "It was what we thought was fitting and looked good." Andy continued, "I think it fits with the music. Those two figures and you've got the urban Louisville landscape in the background. It's got the letterbox kind of movie feel...the sculpture was in the window of an antique store. We thought, man, maybe it's $350. so we went in and photographed it and it was like twenty grand and it was just a little statue, so the picture was all we could afford and we went with that."

What about...lyrics?

When I inquired about a lyricist, Edward raised his hand, declaring, "Vocalist and lyricist...it's hard to decipher and sometimes downright hard to understand...we've strongly agreed that when it comes to vocals, the voice is an instrument and getting some kind of lyrical message across is very far down our list of priorities." Drew continued, ""Socially, there's so much emphasis placed on vocals and lyrics...technically, it's just another instrument and you get a lot of crappy bands because people are so focused on the words to songs."

To this equation, Matt added, "It's the bottom line here that coming where we come from, the music has an underlying emotional content; the basic summing up is through the vocals...no matter what the lyrics are, you should have a hint, emotionally or spiritually, of whatever you want to say...what it means regardless of what the lyrics are. If you can feel something, you can kind of tell the mood of it even without understanding the words."

Edward chimed in, "Hopefully we know when it's working and when it's not. I've sung for a long time...and when I saw these guys play live, it really inspired me on the spot, that I'd love to sing (with them)...it was really cool to do that and it's a blast."

Studio or Stage?

Given their interest in providing music for films, I wondered if they were really interested in performing live or being mainly a studio band. The answer was a resounding "Both..." Confident and modest, Drew explained, "I'm not trying to toot my own horn, but no matter how complex the sound gets, no matter how many layers we get on a song in the studio, we want to reproduce it onstage, whatever it takes to do that." Andy claimed, "I learn a lot from playing with Boom Bip [corrected] (Cincinnati-based DJ)...learning how to translate stuff like he does into a live band."

Live, but not with Kevin Spacey

When I asked if there are plans for a Seluah tour, Edward replied, "Slowly, yeah, we're trying to get around to that but we're all busy with stuff and actually Matt and Andy have been playing some shows with Boom Dip...they were playing in Europe a couple of months ago" and they returned as this was being written, during February. Matt mentioned that Edward goes to Europe with Rachels on pretty much an annual basis. Asked how many times he has been to Europe with the Rachel's, Ed recalled, "Three times, I guess. We've done two tours over there and we played the All Tomorrow's Parties, which is a festival in Camber Sands, a beach town in southern England."

Drew added, "Seluah toured last fall with the Shipping News...it was eight or nine shows and a lot of fun." Having shared gigs as far north as Michigan and as far south as Georgia and several places between, they think very highly of Shipping News and are eager to share a tour with them again. Edward recalled with enthusiasm, "...definitely a lot of fun. Our record came out literally in the middle of that. Of course we wanted it to be done and released right before the tour...but we were very excited. I mean, I've played in Seluah for a little over a year, but these guys have been going at it for three-plus years...to play shows in Louisville is great, but playing to audiences you haven't played to before was exhilarating." Drew agreed, emphasizing, "If they're applauding, they're not clapping because they went to high school with you. You know that they actually like the music."

Hey man, what's that weird sound?

When a band plays the kind of spacey, trance-like music Seluah plays, do they get much feedback from people that hear their work?

To that question, Matt offered feedback to me, stating, "A lot of feedback just from people in Louisville and some from people in other bands. Lally Kuna, a band I recently did a show with in London, contacted me to say their female keyboardist/singer really liked it."

When I mentioned that they are listed in the Artist Directory at

www.progressiveears.com

, Edward expressed gratitude and Drew responded, "I don't think we'll be on MTV any time soon, but we do feel that there are people who would appreciate this music and there are people who already do."

Paging Mr. Kasem

Are they interested in having a song in the top 40 charts? Drew replied, "Yes, of course, who wouldn't...if everybody's ears came around, but we're not going to chase that like a dog chasing a car. We're not going to try to be on the top 40 or change our music to make it fit there. If we were to make the top 40 based on people enjoying what we do naturally, then yeah, absolutely."

Andy added, "We could sound like Justin Timberlake next week." Fortunately, these guys prefer to stick with what they're doing.

Navigation

What does the future hold for this band? It's very doubtful that it includes being lured to and murdered by the legendary siren whose name they use. Andy, the most sober personality of the group, says his goal is "to keep writing music and playing out. You get better individually, as someone who writes music, because that's really all I like doing. Whether that pays off in the end, I'm going to keep doing it because I really dig it."

As Matt sees it, "We start with a small tour and we just want it to grow. Distribution will lead to a multitude of albums and to have that grow as large as we can get it throughout America and eventually Europe to some degree...that's our goal."

Drew wholly agrees about taking the band on the road, adding, "we want to continue to write good music and also improve on what we do. We don't expect to play Madison Square Garden yet, but I'd love to eventually play with the bands that we were inspired by. I'd like to be well-known...I don't necessarily need a limousine with a hot tub, but I would take a limousine with a hot but."

Edward's take is more grounded but no less ambitious, as he stated, "I'd like us to be doing our jobs less and our music more. With hard work I think it's realistic for us to shoot for playing out at least a couple of months a year, putting out records and maybe getting some of our music in films...not necessarily getting rich, but I think we'd be happy and consider ourselves successful if we could make a modest living doing that."

One thing Edward has envisioned with Seluah is to see them "getting on a good tour where we're opening for a band we dig that's not necessarily like us, but is good and each band compliments the other...in 2003 we're working on new material, hopefully some distribution and a booking agent to help us get to play out more."

At the moment they have their radar on, looking for another drummer so that Edward can be freed up to sing and maybe put another synth into the mix during live performances.

Until Next Time...

If you already own a copy of Seluah's EP, remember that it is available at Ear X-tacy and via the band's website...and would make a great gift for friends and relatives. You can visit Seluah at your leisure, day or night, at www.seluah.com

, where you'll find music samples, concert info and, cleverly chiseled into a building, several email addresses to contact for feedback.

It's been my pleasure to bring this to you. Now please open your eyes and read this article yourself.