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|Q & A: Jay Cox of The Sea Navy
by Seth Vincent
On the west coast of Africa, bordered by Liberia and Guinea, is the Republic of the Ivory Coast. Jay Cox is not from said republic, nor Africa; he's a pasty guy from Boston. But, he was once in a Boston band named The Ivory Coast––which has never played in The Republic of The Ivory Coast, though that would have been awesome. They did play with Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, though.
Cox was responsible for vocals and guitar in The Ivory Coast for five years, and in that time he says he's exhausted his desire for cross-country tours and sleeping on floors.
Recently transplanted from Boston to Seattle, Cox has formed a new band called The Sea Navy. Cox again provides vocals and guitar, along with recent bandmate addition, drummer Andrew Rudd. Recording for The Sea Navy's second album is underway with the assistance of T.W. Walsh, a member of The Soft Drugs, Headphones, and Pedro the Lion.
SV: Do you have a thing for oceans?
JC: No. As far as rock songs about the ocean, I think June of 44 covered that ground for everybody.
SV: What inspired the naming of both The Ivory Coast and The Sea Navy?
JC: Naming a band is not an easy thing. The name The Sea Navy came from me trying and failing to remember the word Coast Guard. Similar words have come out my mouth, for instance: “top wall” instead of ceiling, “Satan's sword” instead of pitchfork. I think you get the hint. Sometimes my mouth and brain work at different speeds. The Ivory Coast name came from our drummer. He liked it and we all agreed.
SV: Before T.W. Walsh and Andrew Rudd joined the band, you used a CD player as a back-up band at shows. How does it compare to playing with real, live people?
JC: When I moved to Seattle the amount of people I knew I could count on one hand. Either those people were not musically inclined or they were in bands that toured 3/4 of the year. I tried various internet sites where musicians meet each other and I did have many matches I wanted to continue with. Instead of hanging it up I decided to ask the guy who recorded the sessions to send me just the drum tracks.
I had seen Sebadoh use a boom box as a drummer and had heard stories of They Might Be Giants doing the same thing back in the day. The CD player ("Emerson") was an experiment that suited me just fine. Thanks to the Capitol Hill Block party of 2005 I met a drummer who was looking to play more music than he already was. Enter stage left: Andrew Rudd. Making music with Andrew has been very fun and fruitful.
SV: How is recording going?
JC: First half of the recording process for album #2 is almost done. The second half will hopefully happen around the end of January. TW Walsh of Headphones/Pedro The Lion/Soft Drugs fame is playing bass, keys and taking on the responsibility of recording and engineering the album. TW makes the sounds in my head a realization. I have been a fan of TW's music dating back to the late 90s so it is a pleasure to be working with him. We knew each other when we both lived in Boston but this is the first time we are working together.
He is finishing a record of his own under the moniker The Soft Drugs and it is going to be on many top ten lists of 2006. Andrew Rudd of Aqueduct/Western States fame is playing drums. Andrew and I have not been playing together very long but I can say that he is one of the easiest, most productive people I have worked with in the "band" arrangement. Andrew is very open to trying out some different approaches and doesn't get frustrated with my lack of "drum speak" or me not knowing the names of the different drums in his kit.
Andrew comes from a very musical background and knows way more about notes, theory and stuff like that than I do. Having a drummer who also understands and is interested in song arrangement is a wonderful thing.
SV: What's the plan for the Sea Navy in the next year?
JC: 2006 = Finding a bass player, finding a keyboard player, finishing and releasing album # 2, writing more songs, playing more shows…
SV: You work for Getty Images, have you found any strange/funny pictures?
JC: Some of the most interesting ones are from National Geographic. Since I will never get to stand an inch away from a rhino and stare at its nose, I find these exciting. I do have fun looking at the archive section of Getty Images. I really like pictures from the 1940s and 1950s.
SV: You have an online portfolio of pictures you've taken at jaycoxfilm.org. How long have you been taking pictures?
JC: Christmas break 1998—I traveled with a friend's band as their roadie on a cross country trip from Boston to California and that was when the bug was planted. But the real spark came a couple of years later after I got home from an Ivory Coast tour. I got a dozen rolls of film developed and I noticed that I had some pretty cool pictures. So after that tour I have always had a camera with me, just like Jimmy Olson from the old Superman cartoons.
I had been very fortunate that my girlfriend has been gracious with her gifts to me and has supplied with some nice cameras to make my pictures look better. My family always took pictures so I feel like I am continuing the tradition. Hopefully when I have kids they can do the same. It is amazing to look at family photos from several generations and see how the lived.
The Sea Navy's second album is being recorded now, and will be released in 2006. Along with news about the band and show information, the Sea Navy's first album, Breathing in the Old World, can be found in its entirety at www.theseanavy.com. The Sea Navy's next show will be at The Sunset Tavern on January 21, with The Stares, The Graves and Little Champions.