Editor’s Note: After all of these years, the Santa Clarita, California natives Smile Empty Soul continues to wow audiences across the United States with their infectious brand of alternative rock meets post-grunge rock. They are continuing their run with Flaw and New Lingo on the “Flawless Smile” tour, which received significant press coverage(thanks to Flaw) on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”. They are touring in support of their latest record “Oblivion”. Fans can find Smile Empty Soul at the following locations:
Madness To Creation: Hey Sean, thank you for taking the time on behalf of Smile Empty Soul to interview with me for Madness To Creation, I noticed that your t-shirt says “Flint” on there, have you played in Flint, Michigan?
Sean: Well, we’ve played there so many times over the years, I would say over 30 times, it’s pretty insane for us most of the time, it’s at The Machine Shop, and it’s not located in some crazy and dangerous area, just having a good show there, having a good crowd, The Machine Shop is a great club, and they treat you very well, with great people, so it’s always a blast.
Madness To Creation: What do they need to do about the lack of clean drinking water there?
Sean: That is a question that is beyond my credentials, I do wish them all of the best, I do know a lot of people from that town from playing there so often for so many years, and it’s terrible that they would have to be dealing with something like that. We should be able to trust the company that’s supplying water for your town, the public water, and it’s a shame that so many have been poisoned by that, hopefully something gets figured out, but it’s not quite figured out yet, it’s been a long time.
Madness To Creation: Let’s talk about the music of Smile Empty Soul, “Oblivion” came out May 25th, how has the response been to the record so far?
Sean: It’s been great, it’s been really good, we’re out here touring on the record, and it seems like people are knowing the songs and singing along and it’s another record at this point. We have eight of them out, so its just kind of the next progression.
Madness To Creation: What’s that feeling like when your fans are singing along to your music, is it something that you get used to or is it overwhelming?
Sean: It’s something that you get used to, but you always appreciate it because it means that people care, so I guess that’s what you want. It always feels nice to know that your music has connected with someone to the point that it means something to them and that they’re singing it back to you with that kind of passion, it’s a cool thing to see.
Madness To Creation: What’s the weirdest fan experience that you have ever had?
Sean: There’s been everything from amazing experiences to horrible experiences to almost being kind of stalked, I couldn’t really get into the weirdest experience to be honest with you, it’s really crazy and its a long, long story, but somebody tried to infiltrate into some of my family and my old band member’s families and successfully did that pretending to be somebody else, and caused this whole weird storm of drama in my life at one time, that was pretty bizarre.
Madness To Creation: During the writing process of “Oblivion”, where do you feel you have grown as a musician?
Sean: I just think that writing songs is like anything else, the more you do it, the more you kind of perfect what you’re trying to do, you never really perfect it of course, but you improve on this and you improve on that, you nitpick and you adjust. I really like where I’m at with the songs that I write, I feel like there’s a maturity in them, when you especially compare it to the first record or any of the early records, I think I have grown up a lot as a person and as a writer, and as a lyricist. I like the direction that the band has gone, I like how we have kept a similar sound from record to record, but I feel like each record has a personality in its own way, so its fun to see where it goes, and I’m looking forward to making new music in the future too.
Madness To Creation: Let’s say you today, met the 2002 or 2003 version of Sean Danielsen, what advice would you give him?
Sean: That’s tough, I probably would slap him around a little bit because I was kind of an idiot at that time, I was young and dumb and you learn a lot of lessons in your early 20’s and in your early 30’s, I’m just a completely different person now.
Madness To Creation: You recently released the music video for “Dopamine”, can you take us into that song and video?
Sean: The video just portrays an addiction to media and ignoring personal relationships, it keeps it pretty simple, but the song is about a lot of things combined into one thing. I like to allow people to judge what they think the song might mean with the lyrics, I won’t go too deep into it, but I always try to put more than one meaning into my songs these days, to find it to be a little fun exercise.
Madness To Creation: How was the “Flawless Smile” tour with Flaw?
Sean: It’s been great, this is the second leg of it, we did one run in June, it was real fun, we get along great, there’s been good crowds, we mesh surprisingly well together although we’re different genres of music. We had hits in the same era, which was forever ago at this point, but it works, we’re on another month now, heading to the West Coast. It’s going to be fun.
Madness To Creation: Did you happen to check out Flaw on Colbert?
Sean: I actually did see it, and I think its great that in a world where it’s usually pay-to-play, pay to get anything, its cool that Stephen Colbert just happens to be a Flaw fan and decided to hand him some promotion in a really organic way, so its cool to see that happen, and Flaw is a bunch of hard working good dudes, so its good to see it happen to them, I haven’t noticed if there has been a difference, but we will see as the tour unfolds. But it has been great, and hopefully it stays that way.
Madness To Creation: Any pranksters between the two bands?
Sean: I don’t think there is any pranksters, we’re all old and pretty chill. We’re not this young, excited to be out on the road pranking each other kind of band, at this point, I’ve been doing this for over 15 years, the shimmer fades and it becomes a job and you just go to work, you do your thing and you get a routine. Flaw is like that too, they’ve been doing it for a long time, and we’re all just chill and we talk to each other every day, and interact and stuff, but no pranking going on.
Madness To Creation: What do you like to do on a day off from a tour?
Sean: We usually like to get out into nature, if we’re by a beach, we’ll go to the beach, if we’re inland, we’ll try to get into some woods and go to an RV park or a campsite, we’ll get a bunch of food to grill, and we’ll post up outside somewhere and grill out all day and just eat and hang out, play the acoustic guitar.
Madness To Creation: What’s the plan for the rest of the year?
Sean: We’re doing this tour until October 7th, which is the last show, and Smile Empty Soul is going out on a headlining run in the southeastern U.S. starting on Black Friday in Texas and moving across to Alabama and Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, the Carolinas, and that will end December 15th and we’ll pack it up for the year, and we’re already planning something for March of next year as well.
Madness To Creation: Gonna have any Black Friday specials?
Sean: Maybe, not sure to be honest with you, I’ll probably give people some discounts.
Madness To Creation: Anything else that you would like to add in regards to “Oblivion” or anything that we did not cover?
Sean: For anyone listening or reading this, check out our music, we have a lot of albums out, go give them a listen and we’re always touring, and follow us on all of the social media sites to see all of our tour dates, and we’ll see you on the road.
And there you have it! The final night of “The Flawless Smile Tour” featuring Smile Empty Soul and Flaw is occurring tonight at the Nightshop in Bloomington, Illinois. For tickets and further information on the show, click here.
Fans can find Smile Empty Soul at the following locations: