Exposure: Unwed Sailor
Unwed Sailor - Asleep in the Forest
Avoiding easy categorisation since 1998, chameleonic American instrumental rock project Unwed Sailor – originally founded in Seattle, but since based everywhere from Chicago to Washington DC, Little Rock and Lawrence – have shared stages with Low, Sufjan Stevens and Beach House over the years, while making music sometimes dreamy, sometimes dirgey, sometimes all things in between. Main man Johnathan Ford fields questions from the road.
Unwed Sailor’s mood and sound can change from record to record, but what are the broad strokes?
I feel that the melodic foundation of the band is always consistent. When you hear an Unwed Sailor melody, you know it’s Unwed Sailor. I have always been drawn to simple melodies stacked on top of each other to create a sort of intricate wall of melodies. That is an Unwed Sailor detail that you will find on every recording.
Little Wars is your latest album. What can you tell us about that?
It was recorded in a few different sessions, one of them going all the way back to 2002. The influences on the record range from New Order, Brian Eno and The Who to Neil Young, all melded into the Unwed Sailor sound.
You’ve relocated many times over the years – why so?
I have always gone where I felt the music was, or where the musicians were. I am a traveller by heart, so the relocating has always been in my blood. It’s an exciting and adventurous way to approach playing music. It keeps things interesting.
You’re in the middle of a gruelling US tour, which will be followed swiftly by a lengthy European sojourn. Can we assume that you’re a road band first and foremost?
Unwed Sailor is definitely a touring band. On the road you have a million responsibilities on your mind all the time, driving, selling merchandise, pumping gas, staying under the speed limit! But I am still addicted to that live experience. I don’t know what I would do without it.
Unwed Sailor play Nice’n’Sleazy, Glasgow, Mon 1 Dec; Little Wars is out now on Gentleman Records.