Sebastian Owl is bringing its namesake’s story to a close in its latest album, From the Ashes.
All of the group’s five albums have followed the life of Sebastian Owl, a fictional character finding his way through love, loss and growth. Lead singer and rhythm guitarist Blair Atkinson said Sebastian’s story is in part, a reflection of his own experiences but it also ventures into fantasy territory, where Sebastian does or experiences things that Atkinson has only thought about.
"The whole journey of Sebastian from the first album, he leaves a woman and a relationship that was otherwise great but he didn’t feel satisfied and he left everything," the Wolseley resident said. "In the second album he went out to nature and lost his way.
"In the third and fourth, he’s kind of screwed his life up all of his own volition so this album was coming to terms with that, he’s trying to reconcile."
The group has maintained its brand of blues-infused folk throughout the nine tracks, though with names like Back Again, Man That I Am and Lookin’ Back, it’s clear that things have moved forward for Sebastian.
Atkinson said it’s been a practice in creativity to channel his inspirations through Sebastian’s life.
"I write songs to fit the theme but also whenever I have inspiration to write a song outside of the theme, I try to filter it through the tone of the album as well," Atkinson said. "This album goes into a lot of directions. It opens with a song about my mother, and Sebastian, that’s him coming home and realizing he’s negated family and things that were important in pursuit of finding a better him."
The singer and songwriter was 20 when the band first came together in 2009, so part of Sebastian’s story was vicarious for him, as well.
"When I was younger, I was very interested in the idea of just leaving everything and going to live in the woods for however long, I think we all kind of had that desire at one point," he said. "I could do that through this character. And once I started writing his story, it took on a life of its own and we had to take that logical step.
"He has to come back to civilization, and what would happen?"
The album’s name is symbolic of what Sebastian is going through, like a phoenix coming back to life. Atkinson said this will be the last chapter in his story. The band is already recording a sixth album, but this one will have less of a central theme.
The band will be launching From the Ashes at the West End Culture Centre (586 Ellice Ave.) on April 22. For tickets visit wecc.ca and to hear From the Ashes, visit sebastianowl.bandcamp.com