10 questions with Sean Danielsen of Smile Empty Soul
Solo acoustic tour stops in Olyphant on May 21
In the early 2000s, songs like “Bottom of a Bottle,” “Nowhere Kids,” and “Silhouettes” stood out from other singles played across the airwaves, bringing back a grungy alternative sound that hadn’t been heard in years with the addition of those catchy hooks that Smile Empty Soul became known for. Since their 2003 self-titled debut, the Santa Clarita, California group has released five more albums, and vocalist/guitarist Sean Danielsen has produced two solo EPs and toured as an acoustic act.
The long-haired hard rock crooner’s latest unplugged tour will stop at Thirst T’s Bar & Grill in Olyphant on May 21 with support from Opus of Dead by Wednesday, Graces Downfall, and Katie Evans. Danielsen took time out of his busy schedule to talk about touring with Breaking Benjamin, getting signed, and what fans can expect from this Thursday’s show.
NEPA SCENE: You’ve been in the band atmosphere for so long. Is touring as a solo artist different?
SEAN DANIELSEN: It’s the same travel, but much less gear, and it takes a lot less energy to pull the show off. It’s more of a mellow vibe and definitely has its positives. But I do miss rocking.
NS: Smile Empty Soul got signed fresh out of high school, right? How has your touring routine changed in the last 12 years?
SD: It’s completely different, as we travel in different vehicles than we used to, and our lifestyles have changed completely. There are always the consistents of travel, but most other aspects have changed.
NS: Any crazy stories from the early days?
SD: Too many too count. But, at this point in my life, all I care about is being very mellow and avoiding any craziness of the road.
NS: Story has it, when you guys got signed, you hit the Sunset Strip and got your demo in the hands of a label owner. Did that ultimately lead to your deal?
SD: Pretty much. We were signed by a producer to a production deal, then he shopped us around to land our first record deal in 2003.
NS: How have you approached getting your solo material out there? You’re surely not walking around the Sunset Strip handing out demos anymore.
SD: I just release my music through all of the online digital standards like iTunes and Amazon, and print hard copies to sell on my tours. It’s pretty damn simple, and when someone buys my music, the money actually goes to me for the most part.
NS: Northeastern Pennsylvania is home to Breaking Benjamin, and you’ve toured with them before. How’d that go?
SD: Yeah, we did a tour with them back in 2005 and it was great. Ben’s a good guy and great songwriter.
NS: Any fun stories or fond memories of touring with the Breaking Ben guys?
SD: We all did a lot of drinking back then and it’s all pretty blurry, but we hung out after the shows and had a good time. It’s crazy that was 10 years ago now.
NS: Have you ever played Scranton before, and if so, what are your thoughts on the area?
SD: We have played Scranton, but I haven’t spent enough time there to really know the place. I know Pennsylvania pretty well as a state, though, and it’s definitely beautiful.
NS: Speaking of tourmates, how did you hook up with Opus from Dead by Wednesday?
SD: My agent Evan Michaels at M7 hooked that up.
NS: What can fans attending the concert this week expect?
SD: A very intimate and mellow acoustic performance of my solo music, some Smile Empty Soul songs, and a couple covers.
Lead photo by Shawn Hamilton
by Joe Caviston
Joe Caviston is the co-organizer of the Electric City Music Conference and Steamtown Music Awards, as well as a longtime concert promoter, music manager, talent buyer, and digital marketing expert.