A New Era of Sego
Walking down an unassuming street in an industrial area just a few blocks from Chinatown, I feared I was lost. When I approached the tall iron fence that guards The Cube, I searched for remnants of rock stars, but it was a quiet afternoon, with only some nondescript trucks parked haphazardly around. Sego’s Spencer Petersen greeted me outside, and led me through the gate to the back of the building, where the band had just completed rehearsal. This warehouse is where the group have called home for several years since their move from Mapleton, Utah, a town just outside Provo. It doubles as a recording studio and occasional live music venue, shared by Petersen, bandmate Tom Carroll, as well as the members of another rock pair, SWIMM.
“I’ll give you a tour,” Petersen said, gesturing upstairs with his hands, slowly spinning clockwise around–“bedroom, studio, living room, kitchen.” It’s intimate and messy; unsurprising for the home of two relatively established bands. There’s a friendly openness in The Cube, where during my chat with Sego, SWIMM’s Chris Hess popped in and out with his own crew, making exaggerated faces at us each time he walked by.
Sego’s bassist Alyssa Davey and multi-instrumentalist Brandon McBride paced around, gathering up cables and latching guitar cases. Though their music was always written for a four-piece band, Petersen and Carroll maintained their status as a duo, until now. After touring with this lineup for the past few months, they are ready to officially call themselves a quartet. An expanded lineup, a new single, and the promise of a new LP all indicate a new era for the band.
Sego was formed from the remnants of a defunct Provo band who had moved to LA just before their demise. Petersen and Carroll put their talents together to write a few songs for a project we now know as Sego, but they had low expectations for where it would lead. Surprisingly enough, when they put out their debut single, “Wicket Youth,” it got an immediate reaction from Kitsuné Maison. “It was the first time we had people coming to us,” Petersen explained of their early releases. This type of sudden success is rare in their hometown scene, while on the other hand, it also proved to be more volatile. Sego’s first EP garnered a lot of attention, but their buzz simmered down as they put out new material. With an irregular release schedule and songs appearing on EPs as well as their full-length, the band emphasized the type of easy-going musicians they wanted to be, versus how the music industry tried to tame them.
But now their sophomore LP has given them a chance to mature. This will follow a more typical releases schedule, with singles and videos leading up to a formal Friday release. It was produced by the elusive David Newfeld in Ontario, Canada, who helped them put together an album from only scraps of songs. “He was a mad scientist,” Carroll told me, describing up him with brevity. They recorded in the frigid basement of a church, where Newfeld tinkers with old radios and other analog equipment. He’d have them play in different styles for many takes, then would stitch together the final product from that. Apparently, he’d put two different takes side by side in the track, and “it sounded great, but how am I gonna play that?” Carroll balked. Davey suggested that they would simply need to line the floor of the stage with notes so that they could accurately reproduce their own songs live.
As we discussed their upcoming release, it became clear that nothing about the band has intrinsically changed, but that they were able to push themselves further while recording in Canada. Petersen even mentioned that they had recorded a few ballads. “We realized after it was all done, we made a Wings record,” joked Carroll. When asked for more specifics, the band all chimed in to call it BAD A$$ (sic). Kidding aside, they are proud of the efforts that it took to make the still untitled record. Judging from their first single, “Whatever, Forever,” they pull from the same themes of enlightened apathy that drove their first few releases, from the impatient blah blah blahs of “20 Years Tall,” to the disassociation of “The Fringe.”
Petersen is an introspective songwriter, who described their newest track as “the idea of going through the motions with little thought to the outcome,” adding, “I’m doing everything I can to avoid that.” One such event that they are actively working toward is their concert at the Echo this Thursday night. This is going to be their first headlining show in a while, after opening for El Ten Eleven over the past six weeks, so they’re going all-out; they’ve been putting together some set dressings, including enormous letters that glint in the light, spelling out SEGO. Come through to witness the New & Improved Sego: the same guys, but with more songs and a stronger spirit.
by: Zoë Elaine