Happy Sad

Spokane band Sea Giant lets it all out onstage, and it makes them feel better

Sea Giant members Kyler Ferguson (left) and Conor Knowles. - MEGHAN KIRK
Meghan Kirk
Sea Giant members Kyler Ferguson (left) and Conor Knowles.

It's New Year's Day, and Sea Giant looks like they had a rough night.

The pair sits in a downtown Spokane coffee shop, where Conor Knowles nurses a cup of coffee and Kyler Ferguson props his head up between his hands, eyes just barely open. He doesn't say much. They played a house show last night in Coeur d'Alene, one they said was packed full of dancing, jumping kids. Knowles says he's tired because his friend was puking all over his bedroom last night. But they say they're mostly tired because they unload everything when they're onstage together: jumping, jerking, yelling and screaming. Sea Giant is where all of their emotions go. It's what they live for.

"Nothing else has ever meant as much to me. I'm super serious about it," Knowles, 20, says. "I'm super serious about what we do as a band. Out of all the things I've been interested in, that's the only thing that's ever stuck around and always been there. I've always described it — and it's kind of weird and doesn't make sense to most people — my feeling toward music, and music as a whole, is what I imagine true love would feel like. It's corny but that's what I've always told people."

Knowles says the pair, who grew up in Newport, Wash. (Ferguson, 19, still lives there), always felt like outcasts. When they picked up music in high school, they played acoustic folk at first. And Knowles says even then they still felt out of place.

But now, with Sea Giant, they're truly showing themselves to the world. The two-piece, synth-and-drum-machine-driven band makes moody 1980s-inspired pop music, and it's the sound they've always wanted to make.

Lyrics are desperate, confused diary pages: "I don't think that I could save your life/I don't think I'll even try," they sing on "Close." And behind their words are wailing, circus-like harmonies and dance club beats. It's happy music about being sad.

"Writing music is how I help myself through things. I've always described it as my therapy," Knowles says. "I've always been more driven by the darker things, the more melancholy things in life. I think happy music is great. But that's just not how I write. It's pretty melancholy stuff, but then there's always kind of hope at the end."

He looks at Ferguson, who takes his head off his hands for a second and just nods. ♦

Sea Giant • Fri, Jan. 10, at 6:30 pm • Boots Bakery & Lounge • 24 W. Main • Free • All-ages • 703-7223 • Also opening for the Wild Ones • Fri, Jan. 10, at 8 pm • The Bartlett • 228 W. Sprague • $8/$10 day of show • thebartlettspokane.com

A previous version of this story's photo caption incorrectly identified the members of Sea Giant.

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About The Author

Leah Sottile

Leah Sottile is a Spokane-based freelance writer who formerly served as music editor, culture editor and a staff writer at the Inlander. She has written about everything from nuns and Elvis impersonators, to jailhouse murders and mental health...