Diverse entertainer Sean Panting talks ‘Dad Rock’, Snowmageedon & The Simple Machines
From acting, songwriting, teaching and a foray into pol- itics, Sean Panting has been there, done that, and got the t-shirt. We caught up with the diverse artist ahead of his first album in nine years, The Simple Machines, to talk song- writing, viral tracks and much more!
It’s been nine years since your last album. Any nervousness or ex- citement ahead of The Simple Machines?
Well, it’s an odd kind of combination of excitement on the positive side of things and anxiety. But I think the anxiety part of it is always there to a certain degree. I think with the wait before I release any music, it seems to be my pattern that right before I release it I am so tired of lis- tening to it. I have lost all objectivity and I
can’t even tell what kind of songs they are anymore, because I’m pretty meticulous and fairly hands on. And so I do a lot of listening and by the time I release it I’m prepared to release it into the world, but I’m also sort of prepared to let it go and move on to the next thing.
You’ve described this album as ‘Dad Rock’, and you’ve always drew from your own life for inspira- tions in songwriting. How has recent years, family and fatherhood impacted your work?
I’ve pretty much always just written batches of songs based on what my life has been recently. That’s how I’ve always done it and there’s certainly been more fodder for songs as I get older and get a little outside of my own head. That’s the thing about being a parent and being a husband is you have to get out of your own head. You can’t just be thinking about yourself. It can’t be all about how you feel and what you think, because that’s not the reality day-to-day. Day-to-day you’re thinking about other people a lot. So that’s a bit of a perspective change.
But I’ve never really been interested in pretending I was 25 until I’m dead, you know? And there are plenty of people who do that and it works for them, I guess. But, you know, I’m not fooling any- one. I’m just not interested in those topics anymore. Basically anything that’s signifi- cant to me I’ve written a song about.
You’re an active songwriting instructor. What are some of the main points you’d give to someone starting out in songwriting?
There’s a couple of things. One is that my job at the outset is largely to tell peo- ple to stop saying that they suck and that they can’t do it. It’s a pointless thing to say. And it’s absolutely not true. It’s been beaten into people that musical talent or songwriting talent or any kind of talent in general, you either have it or you don’t. But it’s just like anything else. It’s a skill that you develop over time. And if you invest the time, then there you are.
When I’m doing the songwriting courses, my main message is that your job is to get out of the way of your con- scious mind. Your conscious mind is great at doing stuff like editing songs. Your conscious mind is a fantastic editor, but it is not helpful when you’re trying to express a feeling about something pure. So anything that I try to pass along usu- ally involves a strategy for keeping your conscious mind busy so that your un- conscious mind can continue tossing out ideas. Then, when you have enough ideas and it’s time to beat them into shape and to edit, that’s when you get ruthless with your mathematical conscious mind. It’s a twofold process.
You released the Snowmageddon anthem online to amazing fanfare. Did the reaction surprise you?
The response to it was incredible. When I’m writing satirical stuff, I as- sume that it’s going to be good for a few laughs. The other thing about it is there’s a very brief window in which that stuff is relevant. Usually by about a month lat- er it doesn’t really hold up anymore. It’s why I never record any of it and release any of it later, because it’s really fun in the moment, and then later on time has sort of moved on. But in the case of this what I was not expecting was that people would be moved emotionally by it. That was a beautiful thing.
There was something I loved about the whole state of emergency, I have to admit, because it reminded us, all of us, how we really are. I feel like Newfound- landers acted like Newfoundlanders truly are when that state of emergency happened. People were helpful, courte- ous, patient, were kind, and people were resourceful. And I feel like we really lived up to the hype in that moment. And I was really proud of us for that.
What do you think an album likeThe Simple Machines says about Sean Panting as an artist in 2020?
I think any record is just a document of that minute, because there are songs that I have recorded years ago that I’m still playing, but they’re not the same versions of those songs. And especially when I’m performing them, I have a different perspective on them because I’m different.
I feel like this record is once again a document of a moment that is already kind of passing for me. I’m kind of moving out of this stage of my life that this record is about. And as I continue to churn out songs then there’ll be more. I feel like this is more the beginning of something. Sometimes you make a re- cord and it feels like a summation. It’s a full statement. I feel like I made this, it’s kind of its time and we’re gonna move ahead.
For more on ‘The Simple Machines’ visit Sean Panting on his official social medias.