With less than a week until the release of Seán McGowan’s debut EP release on Xtra Mile Recordings, ‘Graft & Grief’ (8 Sept), we caught up with the Southampton-born punk poet to chat about his forthcoming UK headline tour, the recording of his EP and his numerous festival appearances.
You kick off your headline tour on Sept 8th and visit 5 pretty iconic places in Bristol, Manchester, London, Nottingham and Southampton, which one are you MOST looking forward to and why?
It's an obvious answer, but all of them. I specifically chose these cities based on past shows. London is already sold out and Southampton is close as well which is always something to look forward to. But, seriously, I just can't wait to be on the road. This is all I've ever wanted to do and every day I wake up feels like a blessing to be honest. I still work in a pub and am particularly talented at toilet cleaning. So any chance to play music is exciting for me haha.
Your debut EP ‘Graft & Grief’ is released on 8th September 2017 and will be available on silver vinyl, CD and digital, how does it feel knowing that it will be out there for everyone to sample?
It's a mixture between utter excitement and utter fear haha. I am so proud of this record. My band and I worked so hard on it. I truly believe it's the best thing I've ever done. Once it's recorded my job is done. It's up to everyone else to determine what happens to the songs. I hope people can relate and take something away from it. Time will tell I guess haha.
Where did you record the EP and who produced it?
Sam Duckworth (Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.) produced it at Amazing Grace/The Broom Cupboard studio. He's my best bud and an incredible producer. I see myself working with Sam for many years ahead!
You were raised on a diet of The Clash, The Jam, Specials & Billy Bragg, was it your folks that provided you with this quality music or did you seek it out yourself?
It was indeed my parents who sculptured my musical taste. For instance, my Dad taught me to play a record by playing me 'New boots and panties' by Ian Dury and the Blockheads. I mean, that's some good parenting right there. Ever since I can remember my life has been soundtracked with great music. From the school run, to playing youth Football, to the long drives to Ireland. Good eggs, my folks. I owe them the World!
I’m guessing that there must be a guilty pleasure in amongst your collection somewhere, are you man enough to admit what it is?
No guilty pleasures here, mate :). If I like something I don't feel guilty about it haha. People often find it weird that I love Luther Vandross, Earth Wind & Fire etc. Gets my days going and always a scorcher at a house party! Also, if I'm drunk enough, I'll throw some shapes too!
We caught your set at Beautiful Days in Exeter a couple of weekends ago and we were blown away, your live show is so energetic, the audience couldn’t help but dance along with you, have your shows always been like this?
Ah thanks so much. That's very kind of ya. Glad you thought it was alright. I bloody loved that one. So, so much fun. The full band shows are always full of energy and a bit hectic (which I love). When I do the solo shows it's a little bit more passion, lyric and melody focussed. So I can get my words across clearly. A wise man (crazy drunk guy at Bestival) once told me "Son, you've got them thinking. If you can get them dancing, you're set." And I literally think it's the best advice I've ever received!
Do you ever perform as a solo musician or do you always have your band with you?
I do indeed. I love being able to switch between the both!
I chatted to Frank Turner at both Boardmasters Festival and Beautiful Days and he had nothing but high praise for you, what did you learn from Frank when you toured with him? Are you planning on taking over his role as ‘the busiest man in the music business’?
Ah I love Frank. He's been so good to me! Oh God, I mean, I'll give it my best shot? Haha. His ability to work that hard has come from years of practice, mind. I'll definitely give it my best shot but he's a special human and a brilliant, professional musician. I'll get there eventually. But I've lots of catching up on him to do yet.
The Xtra Mile label houses some incredible acts including Skinny Lister and Beans on Toast, what was it about the label that attracted you to them?
I met them and became friends with them a few months ahead of signing. They're just straight up, driven, good people. Which can be hard to find in this industry. I enjoyed their company, even when we weren't talking music. It's on of the best career decisions I've made. We work really well together. They're so supporting and creative in their own right. Love 'em, I do.
I hear that your Glastonbury and Great Escape appearances were very well attended, how did it make you feel after the shows?
Ah they were a while back now, but, totally amazing of course. Must say though, the Beautiful Days show you were at is probably my favourite show to date. I literally have never been happier than I was on that stage. It was amazing.
You’re based in Southampton, how would you describe the music scene there right now? Are there many live music venues that allow upcoming bands to showcase their wares?
We've a whole bunch of venues down here. And some really good bands and promoters. The scene is healthy and just starting to branch out of the SO too!
You filmed the video for “Costa Del Solution” in Bournemouth with the assistance of Robert Goulding who also produced the videos for “No Show” and “Apple Core”, what is it about Robert’s style that you like so much?
He's just got a great eye. And a talent to make my ridiculous ideas feasible without diluting them too much. He's ace!
There are TONS of bands and acts out there right now, please give us just one that we should spend some time investing in.
Your debut EP contains 7 tracks which should keep us going for a while but when can we expect the debut long player to be showing its face?
I'm not allowed to talk about this. But, it will exist. Hahahahah
Finally, what advice would you offer to a young band or artist who are just starting out?
Be nice to everyone. It's key. There's always so many people working so hard to enable whatever you're doing to happen. So be respectful, polite and helpful.
Coffee or Tea? Coffee
Coca Cola or Pepsi? Coca Cola (hate the company, mind)
Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead? Game of Thrones (but TWD is excellent)
Sid Vicious or Glen Matlock? Vicious
CD or Vinyl? Vinyl
Camping or Glamping? Camping
Car or Motorbike? Car
Acoustic or electric? Both
Shower or Bath? Shower
Noel Fielding or Mary Berry? Mary Berry
Digestive or Hob Nob? Hob Nob
Jaffa Cake or Cadbury’s Mini Roll? Mini Roll
Tattoos or Piercings? Tattoos
God or Google? Does God pay his taxes? Google, but, PAY YOUR TAXES.
We'd like to thank Sean for taking time out of his toilet cleaning duties to chat to us and we wish him and his band every success for the future. You can catch him on tour at the following dates (tickets available HERE)
8 Manchester – Jimmy’s
9 Nottingham – Bodega
14 Bristol – The Exchange
15 London – Sebright Arms
16 Southampton – The Loft