First, I would like to say thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this with me.
Sean Danielsen: Not a problem. We're kind of just sitting around right now waiting to go on tour anyway.
We'll start with some basic questions: How did Smile Empty Soul get started?
SD: We got started in '98 and started playing the L.A. club scene. After a few years, we started getting some attention and got a record deal. At the end of last year, we got a new drummer (Jake) and added a guitarist (Mike) to expand on our sound.
I love the band name. Where did you get it and what does it mean to you?
SD: "Smile Empty Soul" was the name of a song we had when we were called something else. The song was about empty people that walk around with fake smiles on their faces.
How would you describe your sound to someone who may not have heard your music before?
SD: I describe our music as "straight forward rock" with a lot of melody.
I've been a big fan since I first heard "Bottom of a Bottle."
Where did the inspiration for that track come from?
SD: "Bottom of a Bottle" was about living to catch a buzz. I know a ton of people that live like this, and I, as well, have been accused of it.
I remember buying your self-titled album on a whim one weekend and absolutely digging it, particularly "This Is War."
Give me a little insight on the writing process for that song.
SD: "This Is War" was bound to come out because of what was going on in the world at the time. I'm very against this war and always have been, so sometimes as a songwriter that's going to show.
How did it feel to have that album hit gold?
SD: It was great to go gold because we really felt like we had accomplished something. Not everyone has a gold record on their wall.
Before you joined with indie label Bieler Bros. Records, you were signed to Warner Music Group and ran into some troubles. What exactly happened?
SD: Our old label (Lava Records) was not as into our second record ("Anxiety") and kept pushing the release date back further and further. We were pissed because of the way they were handling the situation so we did everything we could to get dropped. It eventually worked but left a bad taste in our mouths of major label bullshit.
Now that you're with Bieler, it is much easier to produce the music that you want to make?
SD: This time around we made our record ("Vultures") on our own. We co-produced it with our good buddy and producer, James Murray. After the record was done, our managers told us about Bieler Bros. Records and it seemed like a great place to be. They let us do what we need to do and they do what they need to do. It's a great relationship.
Do you think you'll ever go back to a major label or have those days passed?
SD: I never want to be signed to a major label again. They have more money to put behind you but it's not worth your soul.
I can't wait for the release of "Vultures" on October 24th. Tell me what fans can expect from the new CD.
SD: The new record is what we've thought we should sound like from the beginning. To me, this is our first real record to be proud of. We did everything our way.
Your first single, "The Hit," seems like a real stab at the major label system. How liberating was it to write that kind of song without having to
worry about label repercussions?
SD: Writing "The Hit" was great because it takes jabs at a couple of places that really deserve them. It's great to get shit like that off of your chest.
Will there be a tour to support "Vultures" and where can fans expect you to make stops?
SD: We are getting ready to hit the road on November 1. We're doing our own headlining tour and we're really looking forward to it. I would say we should hit every city in the country.
Let's switch gears and find out a little about the fun and interesting side of rock.
Where is your favorite venue you've played and what city has the best crowds?
SD: My favorite venue is "The Machine Shop" in Flint, MI. The club has tattoo flash on the walls and they have the best crowds as well. Our friends own the place and it's always a great time.
What kind of odd jobs have you worked to pay the rent?
SD: Growing up trying to make it in a band, I've worked a bunch of jobs. I was a paper boy, I worked in an arcade, I worked at Petco, and I worked at a Mail n' More.
I know you've witnessed some off-the-wall things on the road. What's your craziest tour story?
SD: I can't tell you my craziest tour story but use your imagination.
Who is your favorite band you've performed with?
SD: I really have a great time whenever we tour with a band called Steriogram. They're great guys and they know how to have a good time.
What do you enjoy doing when not making music?
SD: I've really gotten into cooking lately. There's something about it that relaxes me, so I cook almost everyday
Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
SD: Write good songs, play as many shows as possible, and stay away from meth!
Jordan Snow – Entertainment Content Manager
Digital Entertainment Online – 2006
Bottom Of A Bottle Video by (Smile Empty Soul)