THOMAS CARROLL AND SPENCER PETERSON IN LOS ANGELES, AUGUST 2015. PHOTOS: JASON BARBAGELOTT.
When not creating art and writing or recording music, Sego’s Thomas Carroll and Spencer Peterson often find themselves playing shows and hosting parties at their own Warholian Factory, which they’ve dubbed “The Cube.” Although they grew up within three miles of each other in rural Utah, Carroll and Peterson didn’t meet until they played against each other in a Battle of the Bands-esque competition in Provo. Peterson, upon seeing Carroll play, immediately poached the drummer, and shortly thereafter they moved to California. Two years later, what was once a full band is now a duo, and on September 11, Sego will release their sophomore EP, Long, Long Way From the Fringe, via Dine Alone Records (to which they recently signed). Below we’re pleased to premiere the video for the lead single, “The Fringe.”
“‘The Fringe’ is the newest song on the EP,” Peterson says. “The first EP, Wicket Youth, definitely reflects this feeling of being a bit lost and unsure of what to do. This one felt personal, like ‘Okay, I’m doing something, but what is my identity within this new scene that I’m finding myself in?'”
Filled with hefty guitar, bass, and percussion (no synths or loops are used), stream of consciousness lyrics, and trip-inducing animations, Sego’s sonic and aesthetic approach bring listeners and viewers to back to ’90s grunge and into their parties. Even as Peterson sings, “Everybody at this party is already over it,” we have a feeling no one feels that way when inside the duo’s Chinatown, L.A. warehouse. We spoke with Peterson on Friday over the phone, just before he bought a new tour van.
NAMES: Thomas Carroll and Spencer Peterson
ORIGINALLY FROM: Provo, Utah
HOMETOWN GLORY: Sego actually comes from this homage to our hometown. The state flower in Utah, it’s called the Sego Lily. It’s also homage to the Provo music scene—there was a festival there at one point called Sego Festival and it was very influential on us. It’s very unassuming, you think Utah, you think Salt Lake—all the touring bands go to Salt Lake—but Provo is this strange little pressure cooker that keeps putting out really good bands. The bar has been rising steadily over the last eight years, 10 years, having centered around this local guru Corey Fox. In a lot of ways, he’s guided a lot of bands up through the ranks, given them a lot of council, and he owns a venue there; it was always a benchmark to play The Velour. But anyway, there was this crazy music boom and Sego Fest was the manifestation of it. So many of the bands, for me at least at the time, felt like they were national-quality bands—Neon Trees, John Whites, Mathematics…
COMPLEX MINIMALISM: The way I am musically, I feel like I veer into this complexity, but I really love minimalist things. So it’s that scribbly, amateur thing but in a very complex manner. When we started doing videos, we came together with this director, Andrew William Ralph, who’s an amazing artist and he captured it perfectly. He ended up shooting those first few videos. He’s been pretty crucial to our visual element. He produced “The Fringe” as well. As far as our static artwork, I do a lot of our promotional things; I’ve been doing a lot of gif-based art that’s kind of in the same wheelhouse. But as far as the videos go, Andrew is the man.
BRAND OF THE BAND: It feels like I have said “slacker-punk,” but anyone that’s an actual punk would probably hate that, so I’ll just call it “slacker.” It’s more an attitude than actual achievement; people often confuse me for being either apathetic or generally uninterested. I think that’s just an accidental perception of my personality in general, but in a lot of ways I am that way. It’s hard to break it down, but I grew up being a rock climber, skateboarder, and things like that. It’s probably impossible to escape that kind of attitude when you’re in those kind of circles.
DERAM STATE: I find my best writing happens when I’m falling asleep, which might actually account for some of the lethargic lackadaisical lyrics kind of approaches. I find that when I sit there with my phone, as I’m falling asleep, I just kind of stream-of-conscious write. The stuff that gets cut out is horrible, but I’m surprised at how much is good—your mind is allowed to relax a little bit and stop self-editing. I end up getting pretty good runs of these stupid falling-asleep-conversations I have with myself.
“THE CUBE”: The name is very aptly given since it literally is just a cubic space, a warehouse in downtown L.A. It’s a catch between a cement factory and a trucking hub and a UPS station. It’s kind of this little island that we got into at a good time when no one was on the street, we were pretty much the only people on the area, so we have quite a bit of luxury when it comes to late nights and parties and rehearsals. It looks a lot like a high school play when they have a cross section of a house and you can see all the rooms.
NIGHTTIME AT THE FACTORY: Somewhere along the line, we ended up with a spool of Mylar—whoever gave it to us quoted that it’s three miles long, so we have an unending amount of Mylar. We’ll turn the whole space into a kind of spaceship for some parties; we’ll cover every piece of wall and table with this reflective Mylar. It always ends up in this big mess where everyone’s rolling around and grabbing big sheets of it and wrapping themselves up. [laughs] The last party we threw, we’re not supposed to have access to the roof, but people end up getting up there. There’s this tradition of a jump that happens from the roof to the gravel pit, which we are also not supposed to be in. A bunch of people crawled up on the roof and our buddy Joe, who is this crazy artist, went and jumped and tripped off the edge and did a front flip and landed on his back at the bottom of probably a 20-foot fall. He was like, “Okay, I feel my legs, I think I’m good,” and just kept hanging gout the rest of the night.
It’s not like someone falls off the roof every time we throw a party, but it’s fun—every city has it’s go-to venues that everyone plays and tries to bring the crowd to, but then the venue’s usually mad at you because you don’t bring enough people and the bands are mad at venues because they don’t get their tickets fast enough or something. I think it’s liberating and much more interesting to throw our own party and create our own scene. It’s the same thing; you’re not making money when you play a 300-cap venue, so why not just do it in your own spot?
TIME FOR AN UPGRADE: I’m buying a new tour bus today. I had to sell my last van to pay for recording, so that was kind of sad. Honestly, you talk to anyone in a band and they all have love-hate relationship with vans; it’s the single strongest cause of stress and anxiety. I have never contemplated my own mortality more than driving around in a van.