|Sean of And How|
Previously, I have shamelessly used this blog for self-promotion. I want to do less promotion of myself (because, let's face it, I'm getting sick of me, and if I'm getting sick of me...), and more promotion of the people that I admire. That's where Sean fits in.
Sean is a talented musician and songwriter behind the band And How. He lives in Minnesota, and has been making records for as long as I've known him (which is many, many years now). His latest album, Letters Tied to Balloons, along with numerous others titles by And How, can be downloaded here, for free.
I shot Sean some questions and he sent back some great answers that you can read below.
JF - Tell me a little about yourself and your interest in music.
SS - Well, I’m Sean of And How. I’ve been writing songs since I started sneaking out my dad’s guitar from under the guest room bed. I’ve always been a do-it-yourself-er. I really get into what I want each of the instruments to do. I love striving for the “right” bass tone and melody or the way I think my snare drum should sound. It’s all very personal and fun, to me. Because my songs all start with voice and guitar, I probably get the most excited about finding a "cool" bass part. A bass line, in my head, is the master of the feel of a song, and can really change the sound of everything.
JF - Who are your biggest influences, musically or otherwise?
SS - My dad worked at a radio station when I was a kid. He’d bring home a lot of records that didn’t fit the format. So I had a great and varied collection going before I could read. I always listened to the words and the emotion of a song. A sad, sweet voice like Paul Williams and his lonely words were as cool to me as a hooky bass line in a Cheap Trick song. I could list names endlessly of artists I love. Other do-it-yourself-ers like Jack Logan, Elliot Smith and Steve Kilbey's home recordings really knock me out.
JF - Do your influences fluctuate from one album to the next?
SS - Yes, it’s usually more a “sound” influence. I might love Dean Dinning's bass sound on “Dulcinea” and Andy Sturmer’s snare on “Spilt Milk” and wanting to incorporate similar “sounds” into my record. I try to think like 2 guitar players, so I might ask myself, “What would Peter Koppes do on his part if he played with Peter Buck?”
JF - In my opinion, you are a very prolific songwriter and musician. I also know you’re a father and a husband. How do you find time to write your songs and create your music? How do you balance it all?
SS - I’ve actually made 2 records this year. I do have a lot less time now, keeping up with the kids, but I feel more focused. I guess I tell myself that I better have something to record when I get a 4 hour evening to hide out.
JF - Has becoming a father influenced you music?
SS - Sure. More to write about and new perspectives. I watch how my kids respond to music we play around the house and I think that influences me. My 3 1/2 year old daughter McCartney is a lot like me. She can call a Paul McCartney song within the first 2 notes...James McCartney is her newest love, and we had about a month where I wasn't allowed to play anything other than The Police or R.E.M..
JF - Recently, you’ve moved from making actual copies of discs, to uploading your music to a website. How has technology influenced your music (both recording and distribution)?
SS - I still prefer a physical media. I don’t record on a computer. I used to send out a lot of cds and I’d have a hard time when I wouldn’t hear much from people. I’d wonder if they got it, liked it and all of that. What would follow would be this melancholy glum and a feeling of embarrassment for putting myself “out there.” Now with downloads I see a small but pleasant response to my music. I still don’t hear much feedback, but I can assume it is appreciated enough to find a spot on someone’s mp3 players.
JF - What are your thoughts about the accessibility of music? How does that affect what you do?
SS - For buying music, I still do cds and vinyl, but I have discovered music that I may have not found without the internet. I do stress about how lousy my songs sound through a 1” PC speaker.
JF - What can you tell me about the artwork for the covers of your albums (they're very cool, BTW)?
SS - They all try to fit the mood of the record, and a lot of my records are named by a line in one of the songs that either surprised me or flashed some image in my mind. “Letters Tied to Balloons” was sort of a sad, dark image of what might be the reality of a very sweet, thoughtfully and hopeful thing that people do.
JF - Who do you see as your audience?
SS - As a kid I would tell a story or sing songs at the dinner table until everyone was off doing their evening things while I would slowly eat and entertain myself. My sisters would shout from the living room, “Sean! Nobody is even listening to you!”….. “I don’t care,” I’d say, “So anyway, where was I?”
JF - Thank you for your time and answers.
Make sure to checkout And How's latest: Letters Tied to Balloons.