Spotlight with Sean McConnell

Sean McConnell

Walking in through the ground floor at The Garage was a slightly surreal experience, although completely empty, the smoke machines were being tested for whatever event was to follow later in the evening giving it the feel of Dickensian London. A back staircase took us to the more familiar upstairs venue, which for some reason was unusually cold and so there was the slightly unusual sight of artists doing their sound checks fully wrapped up in coats and scarves. We are here to meet Sean McConnell who has released one of the outstanding albums of 2016!

If you imagine that when artists say “Thank you and good night” at the end of a gig and head off to their dressing rooms that it is in some way glamorous, then you’ve not visited upstairs at The Garage!! Nestled next to the toilets is a small dark room with a couple of leather sofas that look as if they had been road tested by sumo wrestlers for the last 10 years. In this small storeroom, we kick off the interview, the temperature still somewhat chilly so Sean keeps his coat on!

He’s in town for the Texas Takeover, an event that has seen a number of Texas based artists and their fans fly over for various shows across London, from The Bedford in Balham to The Pickle Factory, one of the lesser known venues even to Londoners.

#TEAMw21 - So how has the Takeover been going?

Sean: It’s going great, it’s been so much fun, we’ve done four shows! I’ve never been to the UK before so it’s been great driving around, meeting people - it is just gorgeous over here!

#TEAMw21 - Have you had a chance to see much of London?

Sean: I’ve not had a chance to go to the big tourist must-see sights, but I’ve done a lot of walking in the areas we’ve been playing and eaten a lot of great food!

#TEAMw21 - For many people in the UK you are going to be a new name, but you’ve been releasing records for some time.

Sean: I started recording records when I was 15, I have actually released 10 CD’s

#TEAMw21 - They are hard to find normally with eye watering price tags! “Midland” is a particular favourite of ours, the title track especially captures the mundanity of life in a small American town. We take it that it was based on a real event?

Sean: Thank you, yes Midland was a town in Texas! I can’t remember exactly where it was, I was on a radio tour, and stopped into this bar with one waitress, no-one coming in or out, my buddy and I were the only people there. Something about it really struck me so when I got back to the hotel I wrote that song.

#TEAMw21 - Also on that album is “Kiss” which appeared on the TV series Nashville – you’ve had at least four or more songs featured?

Sean: Yes, it is about 4 or 6 so far - It’s a great show and they like my music!

#TEAMw21 - Do you give them any advice on how to record it or do you just hand over the song and let them get on with it?

Sean: Well, the publishing company I’m with just take them songs, and they’ll try to find placements for them, through that they have got to know my catalogue, and then ask for certain things, so over time it has become a great relationship. It has been really fun!

#TEAMw21 - Is it strange seeing Jonathan Jackson singing one of your songs?

Sean: It is strange but a good kind of strange, it is different to hear someone sing your music whether it be on a record or on the TV.

#TEAMw21 - Do you tune in if you know one of yours will be on?

Sean: (chuckles) Yes! We TVR, just to make sure we catch it!

#TEAMw21 - Many people start with a self-titled album, you’ve left it until 10 albums in, is this drawing a line under those earlier records so to speak?

Sean: I feel like it is… (ponders a moment) This is very autobiographical, a lot of my songs are, but this is the first time I’ve put so many on the same collection. I think I’ve reached a place where this record speaks of who I am, where I come from and where I want to go. I think I’ve settled into being who I am a little better, getting older as a husband and a dad, traveling more, so this record definitely represents who I am.

#TEAMw21 - Is there a reason why it was self-funded?

Sean: At the beginning I knew the kind of record I wanted to make, I knew the songs I wanted to be on it, and I felt it was important to create it before there were other opinions involved. So that’s why we created it first and then went to a label to help us promote it. Rounder who ended up being the label, understood what I wanted to do so it has worked out really well!

#TEAMw21 - You’ve got a great production team on it in the shape of Jason Lehning and Ian Fitchuk, that have worked with Andrew Combs and Brad Paisley. We’ve seen Andrew go from playing to 50 people to 19,000 at the O2!

Sean: That is so cool!

#TEAMw21 - What particular skills did they bring to the table?

Sean: They were both fantastic producers, their styles are somewhat different so they really complimented each other. They both play piano as well, so all of the piano and organ is either one or the other of them and then Ian played the drums, so they are great musicians as well! They are great people, very creative people to work with.