Victory at Sea may have been making music for the past twelve years, which certainly makes them veterans compared to most of their fellow bands on the indie circuit, but it is only this year that they have made their definitive album, ‘All Your Things Are Gone’. It may seem unspectacular compared to many younger bands' efforts on first listen - it contains none of the instrumental gymnastics that are fast becoming an indie cliché, especially in the USA - but over ten tracks, it provides rich music that make it an album that will still
sound good after many listens.

Mona Elliott, who had once been a member of the band Spore, started the band in 1994. At first it was her solo project, but after a few months a full, permanent band joined her and became the first incarnation of Victory at Sea.Some members have changed over the years that led to 'All Your Things Are Gone', and the band are now just a three piece. This hasn’t harmed their sound, which is sharply direct, but in fact soon demonstrates technical sophistication. Mona Elliott’s guitars form the base around which the pretty piano lines and dextrous drums drive each song forward.

Victory at Sea followed the release of the latest in a long line of albums with an extensive bout of touring on both sides of the Atlantic, and I speak to them while they take a break from the road in a hotel in Ohio. Their tour finished on the 3rd of May but they are already planning more dates for July. One reason the band are able to remain so dedicated is that they have a great relationship with their label, Gern Blandsten. “Oh, so fucking wonderful”enthuses Mona. “I actually feel like he’s part of our band in some ways.”

I asked Mona what meant more to her, touring or making records. “I think I could really answer that both ways”, she responded. “Obviously I love making records, and it is what I suppose you really start a band to do. But it is being on the road that you actually spend most of the time doing, and that is incredibly important. Do I enjoy touring? It works both ways. You will play bad shows, but when you know you’ve played a good one its fantastic.”

Mona is the front of the band, the singer and the principle songwriter. Inevitably, she is the focus of the band, both on stage and on record. But Mel Lederman is just as important, and the only other member to have remained involved since the earliest days of the band. ““We both knew each other from previous bands and I had always been a fan of Mona’s songs”, he explains. “When she was playing solo, I was bugging her saying that if she needed a bass player she should get me.”

Both of them agree that their experience has helped them make increasingly good music, and both agree with my view that their music seems comfortable in the sense that it seems natural and not like they are trying to impress anyone. “I definitely think that we’re comfortable and happy with what we are doing”, Mel says “and also that we’ve been playing together for such a long time that the music comes out naturally and we don’t have to think too hard about what we do.” Mona adds that it is “not just in the music” that they feel comfortable, but in the whole life of the band. “I still really enjoy doing this.”

‘All Your Things Are Gone’ may not be a radical departure from what the band has done before, but it is the best example of their style. Mona pointed out that it was a really enjoyable album to make. “Their were no huge difficulties”, she explained. “The only problem was the temperature in the studio, which was 105 degrees, really hot. But we got to record with a really good friend of ours, who was excellent to work with. We actually ended up sleeping in the studio the recording during, which I think made it a good atmosphere to work in.” Do you agree that it is the best you’ve done?, I ask. “This is the first record that we have done that has actually come out the way that I pictured it coming out”, Mel comments. “We’re all really happy with it. Yeah, I do think its our best.”

For a band who have a clear and consistent musical approach running through their music, their approach to songwriting surprisingly varies quite a bit. Sometimes they will work songs out as a band before heading into the studio, sometimes Mona will write them on her own and sometimes they will be worked up in the studio before they are recorded. But the emphasis is on making it sound natural, and that is why they remain consistent. “We started writing this record when we were on tour for our last record in Europe, and the songs just came together really fast”, Mel explains. “We didn’t over-think them, which I think makes them that way.”

I finish our conversation by asking Mona and mel why they think the band is still working well and worth continuing with, and why they think they would be worth listening to. “The band has changed over the years but it is still rooted in the same style”, Mel points out. “So I feel that we have stayed pretty consistent with what we wanted to do with our music when we started the band.” Mona says, “ooh, that’s a hard question!” That’s why I asked it, I joke. After pausing to think about it, she answers, “I think with Victory at Sea you get a band that has a pretty real perspective and is honest. I hope so anyway.”











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