Interview: Sean Rowe

 

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Photo by Annelie Rosencrantz

Sean Rowe will inspire you.  Take a listen to his songs, look up his back story, and read in between the lines.  Humble, poetic and hard working, there is everything to like about this amazing musician.  His vocal range is quite vast and clear  – you hear every word he sings.  His song “Downwind” has undertones of the Chris Isaac song “Wicked Game”, but obviously is all Sean.  “Long Way Home” is such a heartfelt song – the emotion flows out of him. Listen to his music and experience what it may have been like for Sean when he was living off the land for a whole year.  No wonder his music portrays such imagery and feeling.  Inspired by his biography, the questions below delve a little deeper into Sean Rowe.

SP:  Sean, tell us about your newest album ‘Salesman and the Shark’? Is there a theme running through it?  What was your inspiration for this record?

SR:  No real theme here, but I was conscious of the record as a whole as having a kind of flow to it. I did think a lot about what songs should be on the final cut and what the order should be. I’m a big fan of vinyl and in my head while I’m making a record, I think about how I want the experience to be as a listener sitting down to take in the whole piece.

SP: Do you start writing your songs by melody, chords or lyrics?

SR: Usually it’s just fragments or either musically or lyrically and I’ll just chip away gradually until I see the correct image.

SP:  You seem to have quite a range in musical tastes from The Beach Boys to Elvis!  I can see the influence Elvis has had on your music, but is there a song that’s inspired by The Beach Boys?

SR:  Yes, The Beach Boys’ song “In My Room” inspired the song “The Lonely Maze.” Not lyrically but musically and the overall cadence.

SP:  During your youth, making a living from playing at the local music scenes, did you learn anything that is instilled within your work ethic today?

SR:  I think for the kind of music I write, it’s a slow burning process to get to where you want to be. You just have to keep getting up from all the knock downs, and not getting too comfortable with your successes. Somewhere in between there I suppose. Like anything that’s really worthwhile, it’s a lot of hard work. But the work is good.

SP:  Is there a specific song on any of your records that takes you right back to your year of living off the land?  Is there an evocative line or memory that you could share?

SR:  I guess again I would have to say ‘The Lonely Maze” –  “Oh I‘ve been a thief with my voice, while all the leaves just sing the truth out loud.”

SP:  Any worrying moments whist on your ‘year out’?

SR:  Had some “bad” water that put me out of commission for about three days, but, I got through it without any lasting effect.

SP:  You are currently touring with Marcus Foster on his US Spring Tour, and together with him and Ruston Kelly, you covered Tom Waits’ song ‘That Feel’ (which was absolutely thrilling – see link here).  Did you guys bond through your mutual love of Tom Waits, and will you be touring/dueting with Marcus or Ruston again in the future?

SR:  Yeah, that was a fun one. I’ve got nothing but respect for Marcus and where he’s going with his music. And Ruston too, young guy with buttload of talent. I’m sure we’ll cross paths again. I think I’m actually sharing a festival stage somewhere in Europe this year with Marcus.

SP:  Can you tell us what do you enjoy most about touring?

SR:  When I’m dead, beat up and running on empty and some new face comes up to me after the show and tells me how sincerely moved they were by what I do…yeah that’s what I like best. It’s fulfilling work.

SP:  Any particular good/bad gig memories?

SR:  Yeah, recently met one of my all time favorite folk singers, Greg Brown, who’s writing I have grown with through the years and who’s work I have respected tremendously. Turns out that Greg was also actually a fan of mine! I was seriously humbled by that, me being such a new, small fish.

SP:  You have a pretty hectic tour schedule until mid-Summer.  What do you do during downtime and to rest?

SR:  If I’m home, I play with my son who’s 17 months old. He’s so amazing to just, observe. Everything is new. It’s awesome.  If I’m away, on tour and in between shows…I usually use that time to write or just be with nature. Try to connect in some way.

Finally, few quick questions …

SP:  What’s your favourite guitar and why?

SR:  Takamine – model EN10C (that’s the only acoustic I’ll use live).  They actually discontinued the model but I’ve never found it’s equal for the way I play

SP:  Who’s your current favourite songwriter?

SR:  Love Anais Mitchell, and love JD McPherson

SP:  What book are you reading at the moment?

SR:  An awesome book on foraging wild plants called ‘The Forager’s Harvest’ by Samuel Thayer. I first picked it up about seven years ago and it’s changed my life for the better.

http://www.seanrowe.net/

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Sean Rowe: “Downwind”

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