Brian Squillace walked down a dimly lit hallway, rounded a corner, and climbed up a creaky set of dark wood stairs. There was a Burrito Gallery menu on a step. He glided on a small walkway through a big room full of, well, stuff. It looked and smelled like a messy antique store.
It opened up to a less-filled room, lit by a string of lights and two lamps. Guitar cases, amps, drums, and fans littered the floor. Graffiti covered the walls in places so thick it was intelligible. A canvas that almost touched the ceiling was painted with grey and blue swirling lines. A brown mandala tapestry hung on the wall next to a Mogwai poster.
It’s Sea Cycles’ do-it-yourself practice space. There, in the center of it all, was a drum kit, a synthesizer, mics, and guitar pedals. It was a typical Tuesday for the local band, who practices every Monday and Tuesday.
Sea Cycles is Brian Squillace, guitar, auxiliary drums, and synth; Landon Paul, guitar and bass; Josh Wessolowski, drums; and Colin Adkins, guitar, bass, and lead vocals. The band itself has had varying members since 2011, and the current lineup since 2015. It’s always been about good friends to make music together.
They come from different places in the United States, but found their homes in Jacksonville. Squillace and Paul are originally from North Carolina and have been playing music together since they were teenagers. Adkins, a Lakeland native, used to play in a different local band with Wisconsin native Wessolowski.
All in their 30s, they’ve been involved with one project or another in Jacksonville’s music scene for the past five years. The four of them being in a band together had always been a joke among them. They get along great, having had a group chat for about two years. So one day, they thought, “Well, why not?”
At their practice that night, they each warmed up in their own way. Adkins hummed, Paul strummed, Wessolowski hit the pedal for the kick drum, and Squillace messed with his computer. Then they started to play.
The ambient synth pop enveloped the room. A projector cast cut-up videos of waves, trees, and people to the beat of the music. They played hard. In each of the songs, they let one of the instruments speak for itself. Whether it be a drum crescendo, a guitar riff, or a harmonized lyric, it had its time to reverberate through the room.
The set ended, and they laughed together, making notes about small edits they wanted to make to the songs. It sounded like noisy gibberish, but to them, it’s the language they understood best.
Right now, they’re putting their all into making a new album.
“It’s a weird time for us right now,” Squillace said. Adkins joined after the recording of their debut album, Ground & Air, and has more of a connection with the songs he’s had a hand in writing.
The band members are experiencing a dichotomy between the band they used to be, which had a more instrumental direction and cryptic lyrics, and the band they are now, which they want to have a more lyrical direction.
“You can convey ideas a lot easier with a songwriter in the band and lyrics,” said Paul.
Adkins is the main man behind the band’s current songwriting. Each member raved about their new addition’s lyrical prowess and “angel voice.” He basically mumbles a melody and accepts collaboration from the other band members to fit his mumbling.
But when creating a new song, they have a “loop-based process,” according to Wessolowski.
“We’re so wrapped up in trying to come up with new songs for the record, so the writing process comes from all of us trying to bring ideas to the table, and as soon as the ideas come to the table, we interpret them in our own voices and try to figure out how to make them fit our sound,” he said.
Wessolowski brought the idea for a new song, “You Say,” to the table. The vocal melodies, parts of the drum beat, and the bass line were in the song, and each member worked until they figured out which part they would play, adding layers until it became a whole song.
They’re a very technology-driven band. They record every practice, listen to it all week, and come back the next week to discuss the changes they need to make. Everything is about collaboration.
They aim to be sustainable as a band. You can hear them play once or twice a month at places like Raindogs and Nighthawks.
“We just want to be getting better and still enjoy it,” Paul said.