Some rock bands plug along and make tons of fans along the way. That is the case with Smile Empty Soul. These guys release new music then hit the road and tour constantly just getting their sound out there and mixing it up with the fans. Luckily I was able to nab Sean Danielsen, the lead vocalist and guitarist of the band.
ToddStar: Sean, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule for us. We appreciate it. If it is okay, I would love to jump right into discussing your upcoming release, Chemicals. What can you tell us about that disc, that most people may not know on the surface?
Sean: Well, we're just wrapping "chemicals" this week and its been a really fun process. We actually recorded all the basic tracks all together in the studio, so the record is gonna have kind of a half live, half studio feel. We also made the album in a week and a half, so it's been quite a crazy ride.
ToddStar: This album is going to come out less than 18 months since your last disc, 3’s. That is not commonplace these days. What prompted you guys to get another disc out there?
Sean: We as a band have typically had to find a new label after every album cycle which adds time between releases. We decided we didn't want to wait 3 years this time, so when we noticed our label wasn't doing much for us on our last record we started planning for the next one early.
ToddStar: Having been at this for about 15 years, do you still feel and hear the growth in this band?
Sean: Yeah, even after doing this for so long we still have fans that just discovered us a month ago. And that's what keeps you going when you're doing this.
ToddStar: If you had to describe the sound of Smile Empty Soul to someone who has never heard of you, how would you do that?
Sean: I still think of us as a hard rocking garage band.
ToddStar: When performing live, do you find that you mix the material evenly from all of your albums? Are there any songs from your releases that you feel will always be a part of your live show?
Sean: We almost always play a mix of all our albums. We have to play all our old singles or fans actually get pissed. We've had drunk fans try and fight us for not player certain songs.
ToddStar: Any chance at some of the new songs being played on your summer dates?
Sean: We probably won't play too many new songs until the new record comes out. We'll play 1 or 2, but in the YouTube day and age you don't want live versions of all your songs out there before the album.
ToddStar: Speaking of summer dates, you have a show coming up in Flint, MI at The Machine Shop on June 21. You have played there at least 10 times over the last 7 years or so. What keeps you coming back to The Machine Shop?
Sean: Haha, we've played there probably 15 times or so over the last 10 years. We keep coming back because its one of the very best clubs out there. Kevin and Craig(the owners) are such great people, and so is the whole staff over there. We've also always had a great following of fans that come to our shows there. It's always one of the highlights of every tour we do.
ToddStar: Is there a specific show or memory from a show at The Machine Shop that sticks out in your mind?
Sean: I have so many memories of being onstage at The Machine Shop with a sweaty packed house and the crowd going ape shit, but a lot of my favorite times there are just hanging out before and after the show catching up with all the shop employee's. We were actually in Flint on a day off last Halloween and showed up just to hang and see the Clutch show.
ToddStar: Regarding touring, if you could pick possible pairings for an ideal tour, what other bands would you like to see Smile Empty Soul out on the road with?
Sean: I think Tool or Deftones should take us out.
ToddStar: What is next for Smile Empty Soul? Is there going to be a big tour cycle surrounding Chemicals?
Sean: Yeah, we've got a couple tours already set up for late summer and fall time. We'll be doing a full album cycle of touring.
ToddStar: You recently released a solo EP. How do you get to a point where you determine which songs will be for the band and which songs will be featured on a solo project?
Sean: There are songs I write that could go either way depending on how you build them up, but I wrote a few of the songs on my solo E.P. specifically for that. I was trying to go for a different kind of thing than what Smile Empty Soul does.
ToddStar: Are there any bands that are currently releasing music or touring that influence you personally orprofessionally? What is the last CD/mp3 album you listened to?
Sean: There are some bands still making music that I love and feel like inspired our music. Deftones, Tool, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden all released new records recently, and I just happened to be listening to the new Deftones record on the way to the studio this morning. Karnivool, and Fair To Midland are a couple of bands I've been listening to a lot lately as well.
ToddStar: If there were one piece of music in the history of time that you wish you had written, what would it be and why?
Sean: I don't know, that's tough. There are so many great songs out there that I'm not sure I can narrow it down to one. I really enjoy songs that actually affect me emotionally. When a song stops you in your tracks and makes you feel something you know it's a good song.
ToddStar: What is the meaning of life?
Sean: In my never ending quest for the answer to that question I've come to the conclusion that we're here to grow and learn as people. To deal with adversity and become better for it.
ToddStar: Other than making sure everyone checks out your website and Facebook page, are there any other current projects or sites you would like to promote?
Sean: Definitely check out my solo E.P. "Enjoy the Process" available now on iTunes and Amazon, and look for the new Smile Empty Soul record Chemicals in stores this fall.
ToddStar: Thanks again for taking the time and we look forward to new Smile Empty Soul in the fall of 2013 and beyond!!!
Sean: Thank you!!!