Tucson Sounds: Seanloui sings 'The Church Electric' while Silver Cloud Express waxes surreal
As much as certain folks have tried to lay claim to a "Tucson Sound" over the years, the truth is that our local music scene is pretty fluid when it comes to genre, style and musical influences. Always has been and (hopefully) always will be, even if the greater world (by which I mean mostly Europe) might seem to know us only for the mythical mariachi-kissed, spaghetti-western-shaped genre known as "desert rock."
With that in mind, I bring you a pair of musical acts that couldn't be more different, but also couldn't be more Tucson, with nary a cowboy boot, accordion solo or flamenco guitar interlude to be found.
First up, we meet the "new kid" - singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Seanloui, whose new CD "The Church Electric" is set for release this week. Then we check in with psych-rockers Silver Cloud Express, featuring former members of Tucson's own the Modeens.
Seanloui may be a relatively new face in the Tucson music community, but he's no musical neophyte.
The Tucson musician as been singing and performing since childhood and began recording professionally at the tender age of 20. In the decade since, the young songwriter and bandleader has worked to hone his musical chops and songcraft and it shows.
Seanloui's new album features musically complex and lyrically mature R&B infused soul rock, with the upbeat, edgy funk rhythms of early '80s post-funk pop ala Prince, Michael Jackson and Morris Day and a heady does of soul-infused social consciousness ala Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye
On the heels of the album's release, your humble music columnist caught up with "the new kid in town" to talk about the album, music in general and such trivia questions as whether art still matters.
TucsonSentinel.com: Tell us a bit about how you first fell in love with music? I know you got started singing at church, like a lot of people do, and that's kind of a time honored to tradition. But what was going on on the inside? What inspired you most and made you feel like music was a path worth pursuing into adulthood?
Seanloui: "On the inside was the wonderment of music. The ability to create a world from scratch. To be able to create and make people happy is what made it worth pursing into adulthood."
T.S.: Do you consider yourself to be more a solo artist or a bandleader? Who are the other musicians on the new album and in your live band? What are the qualities you look for in musicians you work with?
Seanloui: "Probably more of a mixture of both? I write all of the songs and then hand it over to a producer who collabs with me on the music . The musicians on the album are just me (Seanloui) and Rob the Heart. I honestly just look for consistency in taking it serious and staying in the pocket."
T.S.: What are your thoughts on Soundcloud as a platform to build a fan base or get "discovered" by labels or distributors?
Seanloui: "Great question. Weirdly enough I don't really have a good opinion on it. Soundcloud for some odd reason gets a bad rap (excuse the pun) in the streaming platform era. I don't know, but it's just seen as a lower version than Spotify. I believe you can get discovered, but maybe not as much?"
T.S.: Explain some of the themes and messages you explore in your work. This is definitely not light-hearted or fluffy pop lyricism! You seem to aim to make people think. Yet there is also a very fun, funky, catchy as hell vibe underneath it all.
Seanloui: "I mix in conversations a ton. Some of the songs people think I'm singing to one person and I'm actually talking to two people."
"Or like in the case of 'Outer Space,' there's a theme of us (humans) pursuing freedom and calling out the corrupt leaders of the world that their time is running out."
T.S.:Does this style of writing come naturally to you or do you make a conscious effort to kind subvert the expectation that danceable music can't also be serious?
Seanloui:"Hmmm, conscious. I want people to dance when they hear my music and sing along. A lot of the choruses are made specifically for large groups to sing. I think there's power in a group of people believing."
T.S.: Do you feel like musicians have a responsibility to use their platform to address social issues and things of depth? Is it possible that we can all find love, have a good time and save the world around us at the same time and maybe in the same song?
Seanloui: "I think musicians do have a responsibility to address social issues. Art pushes the world forward. Those of us who wield the power to create it need to use it to stand up for causes that pushes humanity forward ."
T.S.: Tell us more about the new album itself.
Seanloui: "'The Church Electric' is something truly special. It's taking Jimi Hendrix's vision of using the electricity of music to bring together another step forward. Once they come together, the goal is the album is to push them toward action. Imagine standing on the beach. The water recedes building up to form a wave .As all the tide pulls back, the water crashes into the sands. My album is like the final wave crashing into sands, reforming the beach."
T.S.: Favorite musiciansand bands?
Seanloui: "I'm a huge fan of Taco Sauce! In a very short time they've made mega moves. Nationally? hmm Smino is dope! The New Respects , the Neighborhood, Backstreet Boys. Prince, Stevie Wonder, Music Soulchild, Michael Jackson, Solange , Frank Ocean."
T.S.: Future plans to tour, do more recording, etc?
Seanloui: "I'm heading to Europe next year and going to be releasing more singles and two albums next year."
Seanloui unveils his new album "The Church Electric" this Saturday at Cans with openers Taco Sauce and Night Weather. The show begins at 7:30 p.m.
Silver Cloud Express
While Seanloui is a relative newcomer to Tucson's musical landscape, the musicians of Silver Coud Express are virtual local music lifers.
Band founders Jamie Laboz (vocals, keys, guitar) and Cristina Williams (vocals, bass) are well-known to Tucson fans from their previous venture: the much beloved band the Modeens. Meanwhile, the group's drummer, Daniel Thomas, is one of the most prolific percussionists in town.
According to Laboz, "We wanted to go deeper into surreal music after the Modeens, and wrote a bunch of songs in that direction. After auditioning a couple of drummers, we saw Daniel Thomas play at Che's with Cobra Family Picnic, and realized he's what we've been looking for. Our first rehearsal was shortly after and SCX was born."
TucsonSentinel.com: What other bands have you all been in?
Jamie.Laboz: "The Modeens, the Possibles, Tree Speak, Moonshine Messiahs, Sewer Doves and Frankenorange".
Cristina Williams: "The Modeens, the Cordials, the Possibles, and my ongoing solo project."
Daniel: "Miss Olivia and the Interlopers, Millers Planet and Cobra Family Picnic"
T.S.: How did each of you fall in love with your instruments and start playing music?
J.L.: "I originally played piano, which was fine for playing the Beatles songbook, but once I got into Ramones and Clash, I realized I needed a guitar, and have been learning and playing ever since."
C.W.: "I started when my dad, who was a folk singer in Florida back in the '60s, taught me to play a baritone ukelele when I was about 10. So my first songs were folk ballads and then like a drug pusher, he got me hooked on the 'grown up' guitars and I just started learning songs from the radio. Americana runs deep through my musical roots."
T.S. How did you discover rock and roll?
J.L.: "Through my parents. They had a book of 45s with all late '50s music. I definitely gravitated towards the Chuck Berry and Little Richard singles. My dad also had a record and music store when i was a little kid, so that was definitely a huge inspiration, early on, there was always music playing in the house. I remember hearing the Beatles and Stones as a toddler."
CW: "Growing up in the South there was a lot of classic rock and Southern rock playing on the radio. But it wasn't until I moved to New York and started hanging out with rock musicians that I got schooled in the ways of rock (especially the Ramones, Blondie, '70s era Rolling Stones as well as original blues inspirations, especially Howlin' Wolf) and started playing electric guitar. I realized that the reason I'd pounded on my acoustic guitar so hard was that I really wanted to rock out!"
D.T.:"I found Rock and Roll by way of John Bonham back in the '70s."
T.S.: Fave bands ever? Currently? Locally?
J.L.: "My old, long-time favorite bands are Beatles, Stones, Zep, Small Faces, The Clash, James Brown and etc… as for more modern stuff, I'm into Tame Impala, Temples, retro soul and funk, BRMC. I like a wide range of music, not just rock bands. I'm excited about the local music scene lately; seems like a lot of cool, new bands popping up."
C.W.: "I've always loved the Beatles, Neil Young, the Pretenders, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and the Police. These days I'm into the bands Jamie mentioned and adding Ghost of the Saber Tooth Tiger to the list. I think Sean Lennon has totally stepped out from under the shadow of his father with Midnight Sun. Locally, there are too many to name! Golden Boots, Weekend Lovers, Loveland, Psychedelephants (PHX), Katie Haverly, Jillian and the Giants, Two Door Hatchback, Leila Lopez and any of Matt Rendon's bands."
D.T.: "Favorite all time bands are the Fixx, the Police, Led Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel and Jeff Buckley. Current bands I'm into are Bombay Bicycle Club, Pinback, Nine Inch Nails, the Plates and Washed Out. Locally, Calexico, Orkestra Mendoza, Shooda Shookit and Natalie Pohanic."
T.S. Future plans for the band?
J.L. "Record some of our new tunes, and play more shows/parties with like-minded friend's bands."
T.S.: Favorite band moments so far?
J.L.: 'Playing two of Downtown Radio's 'Psych Out' festivals was a great time. They were in movie theaters, so the projections were big and super-cool, the bands very simpatico and the audience very responsive."
Silver Cloud Express will play Sky Bar on Friday, with Keli Carpenter and JMC Trio, starting at 9 p.m.
Also happening this week
This Friday night, your live local music cup runneth over with a wealth of fabulous lineups throughout Downtown and Central Tucson. In addition to Silver Cloud Express at Sky Bar, you can catch an old school punk/funk/psychobilly line up at District Eatz featuring Pigmy Death-Ray, Shooda Shook It and Phoenix band U.S. Depressed,. Meanwhile, North Carolina surf/rockabilly band Southern Culture on the Skids hit 191 Toole, early '90s icon Paula Abdul headlines a special appearance at the Fox Theatre, Jillian Bessett and Chris Callahan hit the patio at Highwire Lounge while Natalie Pohanic serenades folks at La Cocina, Leila Lopez and Brian Green hold court at Sand Reckoner, and Street Blues Family brings their funky blues rock party to Club Congress.
On Saturday night, Seanloui, Taco Sauce and Night Weather shake up Cans, Miss Olivia and the Interlopers celebrate a birthday in style at St. Charles Tavern, and Bruja and the Coyote unveil their recent CD release at Owls. Then on Sunday afternoon, join a masquerade ball with The Unday, get your gear on at women led music gear forum Electric Witch Workshop at subspace and help Hotel Congress mark a century in Downtown at the hotel's Copper Anniversary celebration.
Check your local listings...
Friday, Nov. 16
- Southern Culture on the Skid - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
- Vox Urbana and DJ Smite! - 8 p.m. Cans
- Street Blues Family w/ Jaca Zulu - 8 p.m. Club Congress
- Pigmy Death-ray, US Depressed, Shooda Shook It - 9 p.m. District Eatz
- Freddy Parish - 7 p.m. Exo Roast
- Paula Abdul - 7:30 p.m. Fox Theatre
- Jillian Bessett and Chris Callahan - 7 p.m. Highwire Lounge
- Wooden Tooth DJ Night - 5 p.m. Hop Shop
- John Coinman Band - 7 p.m. Hotel Congress
- Kicking Valentina, Dirt Nap, Meza - 6:30 p.m. House of Bards
- Natalie Pohanic - 9 p.m. La Cocina
- Leila Lopez w/ Brian Green - 6 p.m. Sand-Reckoner
- Silver Cloud Express w/ Keli Carpenter and JMC Trio - 9 p.m. Sky Bar
- Lydian and Co - 8 p.m. Westbound
- Oscar Fuentes and Mark Anthony Febbo - 9 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern
Saturday, Nov. 17
- WHY? w/ Lala Lala - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
- Seanloui w/Taco Sauce, Night Weather - 7:30 p.m. Cans
- Dance Night hosted by Floor Polish - 10:30 p.m. Cans
- Never Reborn, Red Mesa, DarkShine - 9 p.m. District Eatz
- Miss Olivia &The Interlopers w/ Gabe Rozzell - 8 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern
- Randy Jackson (Zebra) w/ Thick as Thieves - 9 p.m. House of Bards
- Gabrielle Pietrangelo Trio - 6 p.m. Mercado San Augustin
- Ones All - 6:30 p.m. Noble Hops
- Bruja and the Coyote w/ Dogmatic Addict - 9 p.m. Owls Club
- Last Fan Standing Starring Bruce Campbell - 8 p.m. Rialto
- Eugene Boronow - 8 p.m. The Dusty Monk
Sunday, Nov. 18
- Habitual Resonance, The Distortionists, Flying Half Full - Cans 7 p.m.
- Oshun ft Proda & Sadgalnina - 7 p.m. Club Congress
- Copper Jubilee: A Celebration of 100 Years - 2 p.m. Hotel Congress
- Not My Master, Eyes Go Black, Broken - 8 p.m. House of Bards
- October Intuition - 5 p.m. Public Brewhouse
- Sky Bar Cinema: Stan Lee Appreciation Night - 6 p.m. Sky Bar
- The Unday "Masquerade Ball" Video Shoot - 11 a.m. The Dusty Monk
- Electric Witch Workshop - 12 p.m. Subspace
Tuesday, Nov. 20
- Yndi Halda w/ Trees Speak, Staghorn, Zack Hansen - 8 p.m. Club Congress
- Let's Talk About Sex- 7:30 p.m. Hotel Congress
- Black Magnet w/ Cool Funeral & Rough Nite - 9 p.m. Owls Club
Wednesday, Nov. 21
- Lemon Drop Gang and Golden Boots - 7 p.m. Cans
- Therapy :: A Pre-Thanksgiving Party - 9 p.m. Cans
- Magic Wednesdays with Street Blues Family - 8 p.m. Club Congress
- Marshall Man, Fools Like Me - 9 p.m. Passe
- Postmodern Jukebox - 8 p.m. Rialto
Each week this column compiles a choice selection of live gigs in and around Tucson with the help of good venue and band event announcements and other resources. If you've got a gig coming up and you'd like your event listed in this space (or if your local band has a major announcement or a new release) drop me a line at email@example.com.