Seepeoples: A Group Discussion

SeepeopleS, a musical powerhouse of a group, spearheaded by Will Bradford, has been around since 2000 and has done nothing but improve over time. Since the band’s inception, this group of four vastly different musicians have learned to draw inspiration, encouragement and a certain zeal for what they do from one another and from their own personal experiences.

Along with Bradford the band is a tightly knit group; Dan Igenithron (bass, vocals), Tim Haney (drums), Peter Keys (keys and vocals).  Getting my hands on  “Apocalypse Cow Vol 1”, I found myself listening to this lengthy CD over and over again.  Captivated by the music during the first listen, I became even more enamored with the lyrics with each track. The album is certainly full of lyrical ‘food for thought’ in the political and social issue arena.  Musically, it is a striking, yet sometimes tumultuous ride through songs that vary vastly from one another.  There is a taste of  it all on here, it seems; from ballads to popish tunes, to harder songs with shocking guitar rifts and even some with a ‘beachy’ flair.  Far from being ‘light’, however, the lyrics can be a surprising dark foil for the more light hearted music and vice versa.   Bradford’s voice is clear and rings true, with the harmonization of the three vocalists being rather tight.

Most articles I have found in researching this interesting bunch seem to only concentrate on Will Bradford and interviews seemed to center around him.  This is understandable, as he is the primary writer for SeepeopleS.  He wrote all of the songs for the present album, “Apocalypse Cow Vol. 1” and has written all of the songs on the upcoming “Apocalypse Cow Vol. 2“, due to be released soon.  Having an opportunity to catch up with the band in Portland, ME, the remaining three band members were gracious enough to take time away from their families (they are all from around the Portland area) and chat with me for a bit, giving a glimpse of who they are and how they compliment all that Will Bradford envisions for his music.

Meeting up at The Big Easy in Portland, Maine, Peter Keys, Dan Igenithron , Tim Haney and I, along with a smattering of friends and family left Will behind at the venue and walked to the most tasty ‘Girtty McDuff’s” Pub for a bite and a brew.

I spoke first with Peter Keys, who has a lengthy history in the musical arena, having played for seven years with George Clinton, noted master of funk.

HGMN:  Tell me what is was like working with George Clinton.
Pete: God, what do you want to know?  He is the ambassador of funk, the funkiest man in the universe.  A blast, you know.

HGMN:  How did that experience carry over with what you are doing now with SeepoepleS?

Pete:  Pretty much everything I’ve ever done carries over into everything that I do, so it’s just another rounding point of my experience as a musician, I guess.  To play funk with the actual Funk King. 

HGMN:  Did you write any of the music on the new SeepeopleS album that will be coming out soon?

Pete:  No, actually Will wrote all the music for this one.
Leaving Pete to peruse the menu, I turned my attention to Tim Haney, percussionist. 

HGMN:  You’ve known Will forever.

Tim:  Will’s little brother is my best friend.  We rode the bus together through kindergarten all the way through  high school.  So, yeah…(laughs).  I started playing music with Will when I was probably ten. 

HGMN:  Do you feel that limits you musically?

Tim:  No, not at all.  It’s kind of amazing, like, Will and I have this weird relationship where we can communicate without speaking.   Strange.  I think that comes with knowing someone for so long that  you’re on the same page.

HGMN:  Like marriage.

Tim:  (laughs) Yeah.  Our families are really close, too.  Will’s kind of like another older brother of mine.  I mean it hasn’t limited me musically.  Will encourages me to play with other people when SeepeopleS are not doing SeepeopleS stuff and that kind of thing.  I actually left SeepeopleS for a couple of years and toured with another band for a while.  He’s definitely open to that.  That’s the thing with us, the most playing we can do is better done together.  It’s great.  It keeps us fresh and when we get back on SeepeopleS tour we’re loose and, you know, everything is good to go.  We’re always excited to get back on the road with one another.

Sitting to my right, was Dan Igenithron , who is the noted bass player for the band. 

HGMN:  You wrote a few of the songs on one of SeepeopleS earliest recordings, “For the Good of the Nation.” Have you written anything since then?

Dan:  Yeah, I’ve been writing songs for a few years.  Well, for a bunch of years now, cause that was a while ago that “For the Good of the Nation” came out.  Like Pete was saying, Will does the writing for SeepeopleS, and so a lot of the stuff that I’ve written, I’ve collaborated with a few different writers.  Guys that I’ve worked with in Chicago and when I lived in Chapel Hill, at a period of time when I wasn’t playing with the band.  So, as far as the way it works with this band, it kind of comes through as arrangements and stuff.  Ideas that I would think of for sections of songs, things like that.  I guess I kind of think that way whenever we’re trying to figure out parts for songs.  I try to keep active with it. 
Having placed our dinner orders with the ever so friendly waitress, we all sat back, sipped on our tasty beverages and chatted a bit about SeepeopleS band life in general.

HGMN:  With Will doing most of the music writing himself on the previous album, “Apocalypse Cow Vol. 1” and the new one, “Apocalypse Cow Vol. 2,” do you guys put any of your own personal nuances on the songs, during live shows and such?

Pete:  Sure.

Dan:  Absolutely.

Tim:  Will’s really good at getting a core idea there and giving us a lot of liberty.  He then leaves it up to us to come up with our own parts.  Maybe from time to time he might need help with, like “this is the idea I have, but I’m not opposed to doing something different,” type thing.

HGMN:  Tell me about driving the van, spending hours on end in such a small space with each other.   What do you all do to pass the time? 

Pete:  Well, we can’t disclose a lot of that.  (group laughter)  It’s on a need to know basis.  If we told you we’d have to kill you.  You’d probably die crying.  (group laughter)  Yeah, there’s a lot of prankery, that goes on.  A lot of odd smells, sounds.  I sleep a lot, actually.  I do a lot of time travel.  (laughter) 

HGMN:  One of your videos shows some of the prankery you mention.

Pete:   (laughing)  Yeah…

Dan:  That would be me…the prankee.

Pete:  I might have had something to do with that..(laughter)

Dan:  I’ve never had more fun with my friends taking advantage of my interest for their welfare. I mean,  I woke up thinking that they were dying.  I woke up hearing everybody screaming, thinking that the car was all ready headed off of a cliff, you know, and that screaming turned into hysterical laughter.  (group laughter)

Tim:  (laughing)  That was great!

(break to order food)

HGMN:  A lot of the talk in regards to your music is about how ‘politically challenging’ your music is, lyrically.  Do you guys feel this is the intention behind the music that you represent? 

Pete:  Absolutely.  I think that music is a tool that needs to be used like that.  I think that we reach a lot of people that don’t want to watch the news, you know, or that won’t pay attention.  There’s just so much shit going on in the world that people are either oblivious to or blind to or don’t  want to see that I think it gets brought to their attention .  I mean, we’re not like an outright political band, but we do have some under currents.  I think we are all on the same page as far as our attitude towards the current establishment and the state of affairs in this country and in the world.  Music is not just a recreation, for me anyways.  It’s a voice. 

HGMN:  Studio or live performances?  Preferences?

Tim:  You know, it’s a little bit of both.

HGMN:  How so?

Tim:  In the studio, I get a very large sense of accomplishment, in the sense that it’s challenging.  You have to play everything in perfect time, do a quick check and make sure, you know, it’s right.   You have to do everything perfectly.   I mean, sometimes there is room for error, and then sometimes the errors actually work out.  Then we’re like “wow, that actually sounds kind of cool.”  But for the most part you pretty much need to know what you’re going to do, when you’re going to do it and sit down and do it.  Even if there’s something that your normal audience wouldn’t pick up on, you’re not going to be satisfied with that, so you need to go back and make sure that error is covered so that you don’t have to live with it forever.  Will says, he told me, he takes his time with albums because albums are permanent.  There’s a lot of truth to that.  That’s exactly what it is.   Albums are permanent.  You don’t want to listen to your record or your material and have it drive you crazy every time you listen to it.  Even though someone might not pick up on it, if it is perfect to you, then it’ll be perfect to everyone else. 

HGMN:  Do you guys feel you are more critical of your work than your audience is?

Dan:  I think we’re absolutely more critical of ourselves than anyone else is.  I think that is a big part of actually just playing music. You’re always improving on what you do, always hearing things where you could of gone a different way.  When you’re being presented with it as a member of the audience you’re just getting the one package, “okay, this is the sound of the band”, so that’s what you take home.  “This is what this band sounds like.”  As a member of that band it’s a constant, constant growing process.  Even playing an instrument.  I mean I’ve been playing bass since, ummm, hah, a long time now.  (laughs)  Sixteen, seventeen, too many years, and I’m still learning.  From our show that we did just last night  I can think of things that we did, in terms of the way I play and in terms of how we work as a band, that not necessarily needed work or fell short of the mark or anything like that, but just different ways to kind of  maybe, say, allow room for something that Pete’s doing in part of a song, the way Tim and I rock out bass and drums, just different rhythmic things.  That kind of thing.  Giving space for the vocals.  There’s so much sound in SeepeopleS sound, in a SeepeopleS show…

HGMN:  Layers?

Dan:  Yeah…dun, dun, dun…like that, layers.   So, going all out, in a way is kind of what we do.  We also have to allow room for it to be musical, not just an explosion the whole time.  Dynamic.

Pete:  We do explosion really well!  (laughs)

Dan:  Yeah. (laughs) So we are really critical.  To each other too.  I tell Pete a lot that he sucks.  (group laughter)  No, I mean, usually we talk about it briefly after each show.  Like we run ourselves through the gauntlet.  Like “we’ll never play that song again” sort of thing.  Then we move on.

HGMN:  Are there any songs you either get tired of playing or that you wish you could play more during live performances?  I mean, do you do any sort of set list, play it by ear, that sort of thing?

Pete:  Actually, yes.   All of them.  All of them I get tired of and all of them I wish I could play more.  It’s really weird.  It kind of depends on the run, on the night, on the stage, on the sound and how we’re feeling.  They’re all great songs, some of them make it into the set more than others.  We’ve got, honestly, our ‘popish’ songs that we feel we should play just because people tend to relate a little more easily to that then some of the more obscure ‘out there’ stuff that we tend towards.  I mean there are no songs that I ‘hate,” you know.

Dan:  We each defiantly have our individual favorite songs and least favorite songs.

HGMN: For example?

Dan:  One of my favorite  songs, which we almost never play, called “The Corn Syrup Conspiracy,”  which if it was on an album, could have been a title track, but wasn’t..

Pete:  And is actually one of my least favorite songs. (group laughter)

Dan:  So that is a perfect example.

Our orders arrived, we had a pleasant and yummy meal, and then walked from the pub to the venue,  The Big Easy, around the corner.   The show was fantastic, with a packed house.  Opening for the SeepeopleS was a group whom Will mentioned to me to be sure not to miss, Tons of Chill.  Most assuredly a group worth checking out.  A good blend of funk, jazz and hip-hop, this group of five was a pleasant surprise.  I enjoyed them so much I purchased their new and first CD and have listened to it frequently since then.  You can check this band out at

Planning on meeting up with Will after the set, I found him surrounded, literally, by a horde family and friends.  Touching base with him, we decided to catch up by phone, which we did a few days later.

HGMN:  Tell me about the “Legend of Cody Collins” film.  You did the musical score for this I understand.

Will:  Some friends of mine are doing this.  It’s actually ‘shorts’, based on a book.  They asked me to do the film score.  They are planning on making it a full feature and they asked me to score the rest of it, so I’m waiting on my marching orders right now.

HGMN:  That’s exciting.  Do you know when this will happen, the full feature?

Will:  I don’t.  I know they have some screenings of the twenty minute short and stuff this summer and fall.  The plan is to show the first twenty minute short at festivals and stuff.  Then they are going to do a full length film, based on the book, with a focus on each chapter of the story.  The first chapter is what they have done now.  These are friends of mine from years ago, so it’s nice getting to work with people that you know from back when. 

HGMN:  That sounds like an interesting project.

Will:  Yeah, it’s funny.  You might be able to stream it off of the internet.  It’s a funny movie. 

HGMN:  Now, I have to ask, “Apocalypse Cow.”  Explain the title for me.

Will:  (laughing)  Other than the obvious play on words, it’s about…well, there’s defiantly an element today, I feel, in our society where apocalypse and the end of things, or the general decay of our civilization sort of is making itself apparent.  When I look around I see that when times are touch people hold on to things that are closest to their heart.   ‘They hold on to what they believe harder than ever before.  I also see that the country is really split.  Half the people believe in one thing and the other half believe in the exact opposite.  And there is this element of sacrifice.  When it comes to making sure your believes or goals are manifested or whatever, is going on in your head, or spiritually; there’s a militant willingness to sacrifice yourself for that cause.  So the album is about that sort of  brass bound blindness towards basically fighting for what you think you believe.  I think there’s a whole bunch of pitfalls and perils that go along with that sort of gung-ho attitude.  Sometimes when you’re in the thick of it you can sort of loose sight of the big picture.  “Apocalypse Cow” is really about sort of loosing the big picture on every level, whether it’s love, war or whatever you believe in, the songs really are just about personal sacrifice.  And whether or not those personal sacrifices are true in a certain sense or virtuous in another sense.  That’s what the album’s really, really about.  “Apocalypse Cow” is also a convenient play on words.  You know, the sacrificial cow thing.  It also sounds cool.

HGMN:  So, Vol. 2 is going to be a continuation of the same theme?

Will:  You know, Vol. 1 and Vol 2, I wrote all those songs in the same period.  The original plan was to do a double album.  Smarter people than I commented that that idea may have been close to financial suicide.  When that happened, I realized I had to split it up, then, even though it was sort of one whole project, I focused each album in a different way.  Vol. 1 was shorter, more of a rock and roll album, which is what I wanted it to be.  I think we did that. 

HGMN: I read in an interview you did in 2004, and I’ll quote you here, that you stated, “SeepeopleS is the name of our national campaign to promote hanging out with people instead of machines.  And Lord knows what we’re up against with items such as Xbox, Playstation and treadmills.”  Do you feel that your ‘national campaign” is working, in the ideal you had intended?

Will:  Wow, that’s  good question.  (laughs)  For some people I think that maybe the answer is no.  I feel that some people who come to see our shows would agree with that statement.  I’m probably preaching to the choir at that point.  They are pretty hip to that.  I’m going to be totally honest that I don’t think we’ve sold enough SeepeopleS records to compete with those things at this point.  (laughs)  I do think that that campaign is working so well right now, somehow, with some people.  I think also, with other people, maybe not so much.  But that doesn’t bother me so much because I feel that things like that, everything that we build up, infrastructures or whatever, they tend to collapse in on themselves.  They get too big and too popular and  start to replace the vital personal experiences.  I think civilization as we know it is probably just a little bit doomed and I think that people are starting to realize that.  TV’s and things like that certainly limit us ways we have to express ourselves.  It certainly is a conundrum.  I have my good days and my bad days.  Some days I wake up ready to fight the good fight and then other days I wake up just needing a good laugh, so I watch it.

HGMN:  So you just veg on the sofa and watch tv?

Will:  (laughs) No, not all day.  I try not to do that.  I don’t watch much tv.  I can’t.  It doesn’t make me feel too good about myself.  But sometimes I do like to sit idly by.  Most days though, I wake up ready to do my part.  Half of me thinks that a lot of things in the world can be changed.  People are smart enough and good enough to see what’s going on. 

HGMN:  So when you come up with your musical ideas, is it something you have to discipline yourself to do, say set aside so much time each day that you are going to write, or do things just pop in your head randomly, and it goes from there?

Will:  (laughs) I wish I could be so disciplined!  No, When I was, like, however old I was when Radiohead came out, I just heard a song on tv.  I went to the store and asked and that’s when I realized the band was Radiohead.  I was really floored, because, to me, that’s sort of what my head is like.  It’s a twenty-four hour broken transmitter up there.  So I kind of have music going through my head all day long.  When I was a kid I was real insecure about it. I used to go around sort of beat boxing to my head.  People would look at me kind of strange.  (laughs)  It really is a subconscious and conscious kind of thing.  I can’t keep music out and I can’t keep sounds out.  So just about anything that sticks out, whether it’s a sound or a melody or whatever, it generally ignites something in my head.  Which is a kind of bummer too, because I’m sure that I’ve written a bunch of cool tunes in my head that I’ve forgotten at some point.  Generally, though, if it’s something that I think is pretty good, it’ll stick in my head.  Then if it sticks in my head for a few days, then I’ll sit down and use it.  Obviously, this is driving me insane for a reason, kind of thing, so I should just see it through.  It’s all different.  Sometimes, you write a song that you just didn’t feel like you wrote.  Wake up, boom, there’s a song.  Cranks itself out in five minutes.   Maybe I should labor about it more, but I’m the type of person that can’t sit still, busybody.  I’m the most restless human being I can think of, other than maybe Peter.  (laughs)  So, yeah, there’s no lengthy laboring going on, just my brain, well, I can’t shut it off in that regard.   Generally it just sort of comes, and then I write it down.  Then if I get stuck, I’ll move on and then come back to it.  I’ll rummage through old notebooks, laughing.  And then once in a while I’ll come across something that’s kind of cool.

 Ending our call at that point, I recollected on how diverse this band of musicians are.; from the comedic genius of Peter Keys, to the informative Tim Haney, to the quiet seriousness of Dan Igenithron and the ever so candid Will Bradford.  This diversity is evident in their music, even though written mainly by Bradford.  His support and belief in the other musicians in the group lead them all to lend their own creative bent to each tune.   “Apocalypse Cow Vol. 1” is worth giving a listen to and with much anticipation “Apocalypse Cow Vol. 2” will most assuredly be getting a spin or two or three in my CD player once it is released as well.

By Jennifer Harp