Title: Solid gold Seal
Author: Nicky Carvey
Source: Record Mirror
Publish date: November 24 1990
Solid Gold Seal
After putting the vocal spark into Adamski’s single ‘Killer’, SEAL is now stalking the charts with his first solo single ‘Crazy’. Nicky Carvey gives him her seal of approval. Performing Seal pics: Paul Morgan
“I was at this gig in Brighton and there were these three girls at the front literally trying to pull my trousers off”
Back in the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, 27-year-old Seal stepped from obscurity and a squat in Willesden into the limelight as the smooth vocalist on Adamski’s ‘Killer’.
The tall, striking singer seemed to have appeared from nowhere. Adamski’s record company were unable to come up with anything on him apart from an unlikely story about the two men meeting in a muddy field. As the single became entrenched at Number One and Seal’s warm voice came to epitomise the luxurious, long hot summer, the man himself remained a bit of a mystery. For Adamski’s follow-up. Seals golden larynx was replaced by the icy tones of the keyboard wizard and aspiring pin-up himself and Seal was but a memory.
Yet here was more than just another clubland discovery. Born in Paddington, he’d recently been a part-time member of acid jazz outfit Push, singing with them at various gigs and accompanying them on a Japanese tour last year.
Staying in the Far East for much of 1989, Seal arrived back and met up with Adamski while out clubbing. One Sunday afternoon on Clapham Common, where dance fans gathered after ‘Sunrise’ raves, a mutual friend heard a demo on a Walkman and whisked it off to Adamski. He liked it and invited Seal to work with him.
Despite weeks at the coveted Number One slot, there were soon reports flying around that Seal was miffed about the lack of credit he got for ‘Killer’ (he not only sang on the track, he also wrote the lyrics). The controversy was fuelled by the fact that much of the public was unaware of Seals input and identity (he was often mistaken for Adamski) and also that he had chosen to sign a solo deal with ZTT instead of Adamski’s label, MCA.
Sitting in the back room of a photographic studio, Seal is jetlagged following a recent trip to LA, and it’s plain he’s bored stiff with repeating the Adamski saga, as he looks ahead to the release of his debut single ‘Crazy’.
“We’re reconciled now. I performed ‘Killer’ at his gig at the Town & Country: it was wicked. man,”
“‘Crazy’ is about taking chances, people following their instincts and sometimes doing things that other people would regard as crazy.”
Laid-back, sulky, fun-loving, generous and philosophical. Seal is disorganised, dedicated to his music and 100 per cent slammin’!
THE MOTORCYCLE BOY
Though he hasn’t yet passed his driving test, Seal has no problems getting around town. Standing six foot four in his steelcapped motorcycle boots, he’s a big lad, and into bikes in an even bigger way.
“I’ve always been into speed — fast cars, fast bikes… Well, it’s more exciting. I had a Honda before and now I’ve got a VS 750 US Custom which is like a specialised custom bike. I haven’t come off this one, but I’ve got two scars and a big hole in my knee from when I came off a bike in Asia. I was on my way to a gig to do some Barry Manilow covers — I needed to earn some money and that’s what they wanted. In America I rode the most bitchin’ Harleys, ‘cause a lot of my friends had them. It’s brilliant out there, Mickey Rourke and his cronies just hang out with their bikes on Sunset Boulevard and stuff. I mean, the guy who designed Harley Davidsons did not design it for you to be sitting on it like a plonker with a helmet.”
SEX AND THE SINGLE SINGER
“Aren’t you gonna ask me about sex?” asks Seal, breaking into his distinctive husky cackle of a laugh, which only the hardest of hearts would not warm to. Currently young, free and single, he’s certainly not reticent on the subject of love and affection. Throw in a few remarks about multiple orgasms and you’ll have his undivided attention. But what exactly does someone who describes himself as “a loyal kinda guy” look for in a female?
“I suppose she’s got to be fairly attractive, fun to be with and someone who doesn’t hassle me about coming in from the studio late. The last girl I had was a career girl, really strong-willed, sure of herself, beautiful and very sexy — and that always helps.”
How does fame affect relationships? “It’s really difficult to keep one going ‘cause after you sign, every man and his dog are on your tip. And it’s true about what they say that all of a sudden there are loads of women, and if you’re in a relationship the person you’re with tends to get really insecure. But I’m quite particular about the girls I go for. I’m not really into women throwing themselves at me. I remember I was at this gig in Brighton and there were these three girls at the front literally trying to pull my trousers off and I found that a bit shocking actually. It was something I’d always been aware of but until it actually happens to you…”
Surrounding himself with various electronic gadgets — Psion Organiser, DAT Walkman and mobile phone — Seal’s other constant companion is his trusty guitar. Removing it from a slick leathercase, he strums away unself-consciously, performing an impromptu acoustic version of ‘Crazy’.
“I just pick it up every day and eventually I want to end up on stage with it. I do acoustic versions of all my tracks so you can get the feel of them in the rawer form. It’s nice to have an instrument to write from, it roots you and gives some kind of continuity to your songs. Before, I just used to write from my vocals — once you’ve got a topic you start imagining textures like with ‘Crazy’. Once I’d got the lyrics the music just followed.
“The music I most enjoy is stuff that paints pictures for you. I’d like my music and lyrics to work hand in hand and people just get off on it.”
Informing me that he made his well-worn leather coat, it would seem that music isn’t the only string to Seal’s bow. He may not have worked in McDonald’s, but he’s served his time in jobs outside the music industry.
“I was involved in fashion for a while; I worked for a designer in the Kings Road, who was really big; I used to do the pattern cutting for all his clothes. I was also a sticker boy [putting up notices in telephone boxes advertising ‘Sexy Young Model’ etc] which was quite a thrill. I got to meet the ladies of the night and chat with them, they were really cool. It made me see what they did in a different light. In fact, one or two of them were quite horny.”
While dabbling with crystals and astrology have become the in-thing in the New Age Nineties, Seal’s fascination with the ‘alternative’ is more substantial. He does actually know what he’s talking about…
“I’m quite into astrology because I’m sure it has an affect on everyday life and people’s characters. I was born on the 19th February which makes me an Aquarian but I’m on the cusp of Pisces. I read this book called ‘Sexual Astrology’ which tells you what kind of gadgets you’re into. Apparently Aquarians are supposed to be into this ancient Chinese box that has two wires attached to it and you attach one end to one particular part of your anatomy, and the other to a different part and you switch it on and it sends electrical shocks…”
Besides music, Seal’s other interests include comics. One of his regular haunts is London’s Forbidden Planet comic shop
“I used to buy comics when I was about 15, 16, but then I stopped. I’ve recently started again in the last two years — sci-fi things like ‘Heavy Metal’, ‘Rank Xerox’, ‘Watchman’. It’s good escapism from reality.
“I saw this film called ‘Darkman’ when I was in the States which was quite funny and I think that’s been taken from a comic. It was about a guy who discovered a way to build living, breathing skin…”
PRODUCING THE GOODS
Seal wasn’t looking for someone to produce ‘Crazy’, but after getting on well with Trevor Horn, they agreed to work together in Los Angeles.
“It’s hard but it’s gotta be done,” he says. “I stayed in a wicked house that Trevor had rented out there, in Laurel Canyon, which is down the road from where Jack Nicholson and people live. It had a pool, jacuzzi, tennis courts, all those boring things. One night the alarm got set off by accident and the security guy came up with the police and I was called outside and had to kneel on the ground and answer questions about why someone with my particular hairstyle was in a house like that. The security guy had his hand on his holster and was looking pretty trigger happy so I decided not to do anything to upset him. He was really pissed off that it wasn’t an ‘actual’ [real burglary].”
THE SEAL OF APPROVAL
Having enjoyed living large and checking out the nightlife in LA, Seal is no wallflower. And although he now hasn’t as much time for going out and about, his roots are still in club culture.
“Clubs are a great way of spending time but I don’t have much time any more. If I do I find myself doing the same things and talking to the same people — or rather not talking to people because the music’s so loud. One thing that really pisses me off about clubs is that you can only get pissed or get high and dance. I’m involved with a new club venture where it’ll be more relaxed - there’ll be an acoustic room, films and somewhere you can actually have a conversation with someone. I’ll also be performing there like every month or so. But that’s all on hold at the moment because of my music.”