Open Up Your Head

Open Up Your Head

When London four-piece Sea Girls were emerging as one of Britain’s most promising new indie-rock bands, singer/guitarist Henry Camamile would often struggle after gigs. “I’d sit in the car, trying to hold it in, crying and trying to keep it a secret from the other guys,” he tells Apple Music. “I was like, ‘Why am I crying? I don't understand.’ I just felt so low. And it lasted for months and months. I was so confused and angry with myself that I wasn't the same as I was before.” There was good reason for the way Camamile was feeling: He was suffering from post-concussion syndrome, having been knocked out when a cellar door fell on his head in a freak accident at the pub where he worked. Ever since coming round and trying to finish his shift fueled by energy drinks, Camamile had been locked into a process of denial, embarrassed by the “stupid” accident. He felt he didn’t deserve to ask for help, that he should be able to fix himself. He kept playing gigs, fearing every canceled show might be a canceled opportunity. He kept partying because going back to the life he’d had before might help him feel like he did before. He kept his suffering quiet. During this time, writing songs was Camamile’s one outlet for his true feelings. “I guess that’s why the album’s called Open Up Your Head,” he says. “It was the first place I put into the world what might be going on with me.” While that period of his life informs the album, it’s not what defines it. Sea Girls’ vibrant, expansive debut also explores love, solidarity, confidence, and the light that Camamile found once he finally sought help. Here, he takes us through the whole experience track by track. Transplant “The theme behind it is being in love, and the other side of [that relationship] just dropping out. So you’re left alone in love. Someone’s heart’s just changed but mine has stayed the same. Where the initial idea for the lyric came from was I was on the phone having a breakup with a girlfriend and she said, ‘I can't hear what you’re saying.’ Coming out of the middle eight, it’s just me remembering how I felt: I wanted to drive out to the first girlfriend I ever had and make it better again—kind of unrealistic, you’re just going to end up wanting someone back again. In my head, I was feeling The Killers, particularly with the way the guitars are. And the Drive soundtrack, that track ‘A Real Hero’ [by College & Electric Youth]—that feeling of motion and breaking up and driving in a car just really resonated with me. And I was trying to sound like Adele a little bit. You might not be able to hear it, but that was definitely an inspiration.” All I Want to Hear You Say “It’s about wanting someone, an ex-girlfriend or someone, to still care about you. I’ve made the mistake in life of seeing my worth in the approval of who I’m going out with. So it plays on that idea, and still wanting approval after it’s happened and life’s moved on. Maybe I’ve done something impressive that I should be proud about myself, but I’m not able to see it. That’s the general mood of it, but I wasn’t sure people were going get the story because I was writing very specifically about a girlfriend I’d been out with who was an actress, and I thought it was just too specific. But in 2018, after ‘Call Me Out,’ this song did the most for us. I guess if people hear whatever the emotion is, or whatever the soul to the track is, they get it.” Do You Really Wanna Know? “A lot of the songs revolve around relationships, and my self-confidence and, I guess, mental state. This is about hiding what I believe are my flaws. It’s a really upbeat song, but essentially it’s hiding what I was not really wanting to say—like what’s up, what’s really the problem—to someone new in my life. I think it suits this song because it’s just so upbeat, a bit of a departure in style for us. It’s not a chugging rock song, which a lot of ours have been. It just seemed like a really cool, super energy—almost too happy—and it was the right lyrics for that.” Lie to Me “I’d been listening to a lot of Bruce Springsteen and The War on Drugs, and modern Americana. I’d sped up an old riff of mine from a long time ago, a track that we never put out from when we first started writing songs, and turned it into these acoustic chords. The meaning of the song is just the most intense you can feel about someone really, almost obsessive over someone. I just find it interesting, just wanting to feel like the first time you’ve fallen in love, or the first time you’ve ever fancied someone, you don’t know what that is.” Call Me Out “It was almost the quickest song I’d ever written, and it just changed so much for us. That was when people noticed us. Suddenly we had people work with us, we got a manager off it, we practically got labels looking at us, we got [Radio 1 DJ] Annie Mac playing it the week it came out. It’s only three chords all the way through, and I didn’t know what that third chord was—it was kind of a comfortable place to put my fingers. I guess that was the first time I’d sort of spilled out. Similarly with tracks like ‘Ready for More,’ I put in a lot of phrases and a collage of how I was feeling at the time—wanting to look for solutions somewhere other than myself, like I was falling. A time of life when you’re super uncertain about what you’re meant to be doing, and I was just down and looking for something to make me happy. I had a ton of lyrics already written that I thought encapsulated what I wanted to say, whatever that was, and I put them all into this song.” Closer “We did our first-ever gig outside of the UK, in a club called Razzmatazz in Barcelona, and we had a bit of a party for a few days. While we were there, Rory [Young, guitarist] wrote this song pretty much in its entirety. He wrote it all on his laptop but all on keys; the guitar part was a synth part. When we got back, we put it into the band and turned it into a kind of expansive rock ’n’ roll. Lyrically, I think it’s just Rory saying, ‘I’m here if you want me.’” Forever “This was written by Rory as well. When he showed us the first verse, we all said, ‘That’s the next thing we’re recording.’ The DNA of it felt pretty special straight away, just the bassline over that simple riff that Rory does. It has a uniqueness that’s instantly grabbing; it has a forward motion that feels so cool when we play it live. I remember we were playing in Manchester and I was standing on a stack, playing that song, and I was like, ‘This makes you feel like you’re in the best band in the world.’” Weight in Gold “This is about a big turning point in my mindset, almost finding ground, after coming out and talking to those closest to me about what I was struggling with—feeling depressed, and feeling like I was stuck in behaviors that I couldn’t change, and kind of being desperate. I thought I didn’t have any choice other than to say something about it, and I didn’t know why I hadn’t earlier. That was the first time there was a brightness. I think I wrote this about a week after I felt things had turned around, and it’s just about a bit of peace, like the idea of a car not moving—‘We don’t even care if the car don’t go’—I felt like I was seven again, sitting in my uncle’s car on his drive and happy. I’d been listening to a lot of The National, and I think the rhythm of that chorus in particular has that kind of National feeling. And also country music, imagining a warm country song and just feeling things that felt kind of wholesome.” Ready for More “It was after I’d had the head injury and I knew I should be looking after myself—they’d said, ‘It’ll take up to two years for your post-concussion syndrome to go.’ I was just tired. Tired of myself, of my behaviors. I blamed myself so much for feeling unhappy. My memory was crap, I couldn’t take any good advice, that was all out the window. I was so aware that everything I was doing was wrong. I kept on saying yes, doing things for people, and it was bad for my brain. I didn’t know where else to turn, and I kept turning to partying. I felt like something had changed—and I guess I felt safe in what I knew before. When writing this song, I knew it was wrong and something had to stop. I could really do with a life change, I could really do with developing a relationship with people around me, looking to friendship for happiness and looking to family. This song was just me putting in a lot of emotion. ‘Best time of your life/How shit if that’s right’—what I’m doing is not the best time of my life, inside it’s really not. [Songwriting] was the first place that felt safe to have an outlet, otherwise I would have told nobody and I didn’t feel like there was any reality to it, I was just in my own head. I was constantly writing songs throughout. Side by side with writing love songs, I was writing songs that I thought, ‘If I put this out, those closest to me might hear what I’m saying.’ I felt like for some reason there was no way it was an option for me to tell people. So if I put it into a song, it was almost like tripping myself up, making people listen to the words and realize, ‘Something is wrong with Henry.’” Violet “There’s a confidence in ‘Violet’ that I don’t think any of us have in the band, but it is light [compared to the shade of some other tracks]. We also write songs to feel excited and be uplifted. This is one of those songs: Just imagine if you had the confidence to tell someone you really like, and you’re going to make it happen, and you’re going to be with that perfect person, and you’re going to have that perfect night. Sound-wise, it’s got a bit of the Drive soundtrack in it—the synths. And, to me, it feels like ‘Red Morning Light,’ Kings of Leon—a rock ’n’ roll feel, super-fast guitar, three-second-long guitar solos, super-quick chord changes. That is definitely the light. It feels good. We start a lot of our shows with it.’” Shake “The meaning of it is feeling like an outsider in life, not feeling like you’re in tune with everyone else. Like the chorus says: ‘I’m all alone,’ and you just feel like, ‘Where’s the other person that understands me?’ Getting into a rut, too much TV, not enough sleeping. Stylistically it’s very Pixies and third-album Kings of Leon. Because that’s very much part of our DNA. I think we pushed this arguably the most of anything we put out to be full rock ’n’ roll, that grunge sonic feel to it. It’s really fun playing live. I’ve attempted a few forward rolls during the guitar solo because I have to do very little in that, so it’s very much getting into the grunge spirit of it all.” Damage Done “It’s like a positive breakup song, a positive moving-on song. I was thinking about a really painful breakup, the first breakup I’d ever had. Years had gone by, and I didn’t have any jealousy anymore. Just seeing it for what it was, a part of life, was kind of freeing. Because the emotions were gone, it was almost like a painful breakup making you smile. So there’s a little bit of, I guess, humor in the chorus and kind of like, ‘I don’t care anymore. That just doesn't make me jealous, it’s all cool.’ I’ve got a lot of nostalgia for falling in love, and I think everyone does for their first love. I’m a very romantic person, I think, so it’s through a rose-tinted lens as well.” You Over Anyone “This was the first song I wrote after I hit my head, about a week after. It is literally a love song, but it’s not about a person. It’s a relationship with bad habits, my relationship with partying and making the same mistakes over and over again. And I’d choose that over anyone else. I’d choose that over people that I felt like I was betraying, my family. I’d choose that, and I'd let people down—even though I knew it was no good for me. I think at that point, I was like, ‘I’m not good. And this is a moment to say how I feel.’ I was like, ‘This sounds like a powerful love song.’ I remember showing it to the guys and our manager, and they were like, ‘That’s a really good song.’ I was happy that I could still write something that we were really confident about so soon after. For a good few months after that, I’d save my energy, when I could, for songwriting.” Moving On “We end with ‘Moving On.’ I think this is a good song to lead into whatever: closing a show, or leading into our next single, our next EP, our next album. And it basically sums up everything in the album: Things in your past, good or bad, stick with you, like a ghost. But let’s get started, let’s try and move this on, let’s get somewhere new. There’s lots of little wordplays talking about partying and relationships, but there’s joy and energy and it bounces along. I love how the last line of the song, the last line of the album, is ‘Do you want to get started?’ This is it—this is just the beginning.”

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