LA musician Sean Alan discusses the formation of The True Love Band, their upcoming album and musical influences
LA-based songwriter Sean Alan, along with his band The True Love Band, have been creating a buzz ahead of the release of their upcoming album The Show Must Go On. The tracks have drawn comparisons to Otis Redding, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty, delivered with the rock and roll angst of the dirty guitar bands of the ’60s and ’70s. The track “In This World” was featured last year on the FX series Better Things, leading to 12K plays a month on Spotify! In Sean’s words, the new album is “a fresh take on roots rock and soul, mostly love songs, but without the usual sappy cliches. It’s raw and real, romantic and honest”. The album will be released on June 22nd, with a record release show planned at The Hotel Cafe in LA. Staff contributor Emily May recently spoke with Sean via email about the upcoming album, the formation of The True Love band and his upcoming album release show. You can stay up-to-date with the band and all upcoming tour dates and can check out and purchase their music on the following sites:
The band will be releasing its first full-length album entitled The Show Must Go On on June 22nd. What can people expect from the album and what was the writing and recording process like?
It’s mostly an album of love songs, which is a bit of a departure for people who followed some of my earlier work. Definitely influenced by American roots music—rock, country, soul. Prior to this record I had spent a year on this edgy, experimental hip-hop record (Seanny Dogg), which was fun, but I was glad to get back to my bread-and-butter, which is songwriting with the guitar. In that respect writing the material felt very good. We recorded in Grandma’s Warehouse, an awesome studio run by my friend and mentor Andrew Bush. The place is full of vintage gear and a real old school B3 Hammond organ with the full spinning Leslie speaker and everything. Recording was a blast though I was dealing with a vocal injury, which was challenging.
You are having an album release show at The Hotel Cafe in LA. What are you looking forward to with the show? The Hotel Cafe is such a great and intimate venue. What are some of your favorite LA venues to play?
Really looking forward to putting this record out. The promotional process, mixing, mastering, and the rest has taken so long. As for the set, we have some surprises and a few old songs we will be throwing in along with the material from the album. We’ve done a few shows that the Satellite, formerly known as Spaceland, which is a great room that is set up to capture awesome live recordings. The Echo is a great spot, the El Rey. Had some great jams at the Troubador with an old band, The Atma.
Your music has been described as reminiscent of Otis Redding, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty and that you deliver your message with the rock and roll angst of the dirty guitar bands of the ’60s and ’70s. Do you feel that is a fair comparison? How would you describe your music?
It’s always hard to describe one’s work in comparison to others. I never set out to imitate or sound like anyone. Those on the list are songwriters in the traditional sense, telling a story in a verse/chorus sort of way, which is definitely something I tend to do. I also like the sound of old records, music made by people playing instruments. As far as angst, I cut my teeth as a singer in punk bands as a youth and I think that gritty aspect has always stayed with me through all genres I’ve worked in. Lyrics are also a big deal for me, as I’ve always been a writer, long before I ever picked up a guitar.
I read that you have a variety of musical influences, including ’70s rock, classic soul, ’90s alternative and garage punk. Who would you say are some of the bands that have influenced you the most growing up and who are some current bands that you would count as influences?
Oh man, that’s a hell of a list. John Lennon, Bob Dylan, T Rex, Bowie, The Kinks, Nirvana, The Dead Kennedys, Otis Redding, Lightning Hopkins, The Clash, Toots and Maytals, Smokey Robinson, George Harrison, Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, John Prine… it goes on forever. More modern stuff I like—Big Thief, Kathy Heideman, Kurt Vile, UMO, Dr. Dog, Deertick…
Did you grow up in a creative and musical household? When did you realize your love for music and desire to perform?
I was always nuts about music. My dad taught me an appreciation for music and took me to my first concerts. When I started going to punk shows as a teenager, I just became obsessed with the energy and the whole dynamic of the live show. We went to see a punk show in this dive one night and the band cancelled. There was this big open slot in the evening so we lied and said we had a band and we borrowed some instruments from another band. I picked up a bass—I had never held a bass before. We just got up there and started making noise and cussing… and the crowd started moshing and getting into it. What a rush! We formed a real band after that. I’ve been in bands ever since…
You are involved in various other musical projects. Are all of the different projects your way of satisfying your love of so many different musical genres? Do you ever find it challenging to find the time for everything?
Time is a major issue, as I also have 3 kids and a day job! I wish I had time to be in more projects… but I am always working on something and have been non-stop for the last 20 years. I like to try different things, always stay on my toes, but I usually focus on one project at a time, so I can give it the proper attention and focus.
You recently released your track “Refugee Song” which “tells the story of those in search of a home in a world that would turn a blind eye.” Can you talk a bit about the song and your thoughts on the current crisis, as well as what you think the future might hold? Why do you think messages of social and political strife have mostly faded from popular music these days?
Well the refugee situation is mind blowing, how no one in the world will even grant these people a place to live. They are literally outcasts, with no nation that will welcome them. The suffering they endure eclipses anything most of us can imagine living here in a free, relatively well-to-do country. I’ve always written about politics, as a matter of conscience. I think these days people are so numb from being bombarded by news and propaganda, they look to music as an escape from the issues, which is probably why music doesn’t address them anymore.
Your song “In This World”, which has around 250K plays on Spotify, was featured on the FX series Better Things. How did that opportunity come about and do you feel that exposure has helped to put you on peoples’ radar?
I met Pam when I was teaching music to her daughters some years ago. She always had really positive things to say about my songs, particularly the love songs I would write my wife. When she got her own show she asked me to send her some stuff. She ended up putting that song in a major scene and things took off from there. The song has definitely brought some exposure and turned a lot of people onto my work. I’m very grateful to Pam for that opportunity.
What can you tell me about The True Love Band? I read that your band is comprised of various friends. How did you all meet and what led you to form your backing band?
When I decided to do the album of love songs, I planned to form a 4-piece. I reached out to Kyle, who was the bassist for one of my old groups, Squirrel TV. Vick, the keyboard player, I knew from Peppermint Wolf. He was actually the bassist of that band, but I knew he was a phenomenal pianist as well. Dana I bumped into at a music store. We jammed a few times and I thought he’d be a good fit. Joe and the trumpet happened when he reached out to me to be on his podcast after the Seanny Dogg Record came out. I found out he played trumpet and asked him to do some horn parts on the album. He stuck around and became part of the ensemble. Devon has been singing backups on my records for years. She is an amazing talent who has been in groups with many of my friends and band mates over the years. She and I wrote and recorded backups for the whole album in 1 night. She’s been gigging with us ever since.
What’s next for you? What are your goals going forward?
I’m hard at work writing the next batch of tunes. I love playing with this band, so my hope is to keep gigging, writing, recording, jamming, and living the dream. I just want to keep pushing myself, getting better, and being the best artist I can be.
Thanks for the opportunity! If I may, I also want to plug the playlist I curate on Spotify. It has many of my favorite songs along with some of my own material as well. Its called “Minor Birds.”