The Blue Light Chronicles: Sean McConnell
Sean McConnell may well be one of the busiest artists in the Texas country music scene. He’s been touring hard for the last year and a half in support of his latest record Saints, Thieves and Liars. As busy as he stays though, he was still able to sit down and chat with us at 99.5 The Bear, before his performance at The Blue Light on July 30, and catch up on how the last year has been. We talked everything from Michael Jackson to Bob Dylan to the story behind “Reckless Love.” Apparently it wasn’t some crazed girl that inspired it.
Here is the interview, in it’s entirety, from that night.
99.5 The Bear: How has 2011 been for you?
Sean McConnell: It’s been good, been real busy. A lot of shows and a lot of songwriting and a lot of people showing up to the shows, it’s a lot of fun.
99.5 The Bear: How does it feel to be the red dirt guy to have soul in his music?
Sean McConnell: It feels good. I don’t really put labels on my music. It’s soul, it’s red dirt, it’s Americana.
99.5 The Bear: You obviously have soul because you tackle Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana.” What made you want to start playing that?
Sean McConnell: I just grew up a huge Michael Jackson fan and that’s always been my favorite song. I brought it to practice one day and tried it out. We played it live and it’s been our most requested song ever since.
99.5 The Bear: Saints, Thieves and Liars has done so well for you since its release last year. What has that record meant to you?
Sean McConnell: That record for me has just been a flag in the ground. The couple records before that one were just EP’s. This record for me was kind of my opportunity to really create a cohesive of handpicked songs instead of just songs I had ready to go. I probably picked those 12 out of 150 songs. So yeah it’s kind of my first record that had a theme and just stuck together and sounded like the same project.
99.5 The Bear: It’s been a year since that record though, are you ready to get back in the studio?
Sean McConnell: Yeah I’m ready to. I’m about to start writing for that and for other things. Yeah not too far away and I’ll get back in the studio.
99.5 The Bear: What’s the process of your songwriting? Are you the kind who will sit down and bang out a record or do you get up every day and write a little bit here and there?
Sean McConnell: I think I’m kind of both of those guys. It all just depends on the day. There are defiantly months where I get up and write every day and something may come out and something may not. There are also seasons when I take a couple days off and only write when something comes up.
99.5 The Bear: You’ve worked with talented people in the past. I know you haven’t started to write this new album but is there any you would really want to work with for this next record?
Sean McConnell: I don’t know who it would be as far as writers or players. Obviously I have my dream list of people I would like to work and write with. I’m a huge Darrell Scott fan. I would always like to write with him. Jonny Lang is someone I would like to write and record with at some point. I have no idea though. I haven’t thought too much about it. I mean I always think about it but nothing is set in stone.
99.5 The Bear: Who is at the top of your dream list?
Sean McConnell: There is this one guy named David Wilcox. He’s a songwriter from the Carolinas that I’ve always looked up to as a kid. So that would be the top of my dream list to write a song with and drag into the studio.
99.5 The Bear: On your website you have a picture of you with the Civil Wars. Who are some bands that you dig outside of Texas Country?
Sean McConnell: Man, there are so many. I really like a band called the Swell Season. They were formed out of a movie they were in together called Once. Then they kept touring and they’re still touring. So the Swell Season is a big one for me. I love Muse. I’m on a Paramore kick right now. I guess those are some newer bands that I like.
99.5 The Bear: Maybe not new but older is Bob Dylan. Do you see some of his music in your writing?
Sean McConnell: Yeah I see a lot of him in my music. I’m actually going to see him live next week, which is my first time. So I’m really excited about that. Yeah I’m a huge Dylan fan because he kind of writes from a different place. His songs are pretty reckless and cryptic, which is confusing. I think he was really good at keeping people guessing. Even more than his music was I think this persona and character that he is. It’s just very captivating. So from an artist perspective I think that really intriguing.
99.5 The Bear: You said a word that stood out, reckless. I have to ask the story of “Reckless Love.” Was there someone that you really couldn’t stand when you wrote that track?
Sean McConnell: No not anyone in specific. I think it’s just a story you hear a lot about and you see a lot. It’s just being in love with someone that’s really toxic for you but you can’t help yourself.
99.5 The Bear: You talked about guys you like outside of Texas Country but who are some guys you like in Texas Country and Texas Music?
Sean McConnell: I’m a big Bob Schneider fan. Obviously a huge Wade Bowen fan, he’s become a very close friend of mine and I really respect his music. Randy Rogers and Band of Heathens I really like. There’s a new guy, well he’s not really brand new anymore but Lincoln Durham who we have played a couple of shows with and really like him. There’s a lot of good music down here.
99.5 The Bear: You’re playing The Blue Light tonight. Are there some shows or venues that stand out more than others as places you like?
Sean McConnell: Yeah, For Sure. The Blue Light is actually one we really like. There’s just a cool energy to it. IT’s one of those places where the first two times we played here there weren’t a lot of people who showed up but the third time it was to the walls with great energy and people singing along. So it’s a place we know we can come and fill it up with people who enjoy our stuff.
99.5 The Bear: You have Billy Bob’s coming up soon. What’s it about playing a place like Billy Bob’s?
Sean McConnell: This is actually our first time to play Billy Bob’s. We’re obviously aware of the prestige of the place and how artists get in line to play there. We’re honored to play there.
99.5 The Bear: What’s left for 2011?
Sean McConnell: Writing. I’m going to start writing for a new album and some other projects.
You can find more of Sean McConnell online but we suggest you make a show when he comes back to Lubbock or anywhere on the South Plains.