Posted on January 17th. 2018
Questionnaire by Stefan on behalf of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM
A little while ago I worked out/published the discussion in regards to the critically acclaimed, third effort from motor city Detroit, Michigan guitarist’s project The Sean Baker Orchestra. The album entitled “Game On!! presents an excellent offer for anyone who has an urge and passion for shred guitar driven, heavy/power metal music with a nod to classic hard rock as well. I came in touch with Sean Baker via the CEO of Shredguy Records named Michael McDowell of which I’m very grateful. I’d like to know more details from the guitar genius himself and wants to do an excavation to how everything started and things happened afterwards, current and future plans to realize… a cruise down to his lifetime career as guitar magician actually !
Stefan: Welcome Sean, thanks for the collaboration doing this interview… let’s start with the most regular question, and wants to do an excavation to how everything started?
Sean: Been a huge fan of music my entire life. My parents were big music fans as well, so there was always great music playing at our house. Most of the music back then was very guitar orientated, which of course is not the case nowadays.
Stefan: During your childhood, were you already been driven by playing guitar or will I formulate it differently, who pulled you over the line to start with it?
Sean: Like I said, the majority of music in the 70”s and 80”s had tons off great guitar riffs/playing so it was easy to gravitate towards the sound of guitar. It wasnt until I heard Eddie Van Halen’s “Eruption”, that I thought to myself “I need to do this”!! So, everything for me started and ended with Eddie Van Halen. I still love the man’s playing and songwriting to this day!
Stefan: Taking a guitar for the first time is always a magical moment, what about your experienced based to that?
Sean: Thinking back on it, I prolly set the bar very high for myself by trying to keep up with Mr. Van Halen! There was so many ripping guitar players back them, that you could have a different favorite player every week. It was a great time for growing in that era of music/guitar. But it took many, many hours to get my skills together on the guitar.
Stefan: Can you tell me how old you were when your first solid riff was your property?
Sean: I think I started out when I was11 years old, and I started writing my own music about a year later. When I first started to play guitar, it was so much FUN learning my heroes music, that I did covers for awhile at first. As soon as I started writing my own music, I never looked back…..
Stefan: That must be the ultimate stimulation to go on, what happened next and who can be considered as your idols, individuals inspired you to keep going on?
Sean: I have a ton of idols, but the standout ones would be: Eddie Van Halen, Paul Gilbert, Jason Becker, and the majority of the Shrapnel Records players. Non guitarist idols include, Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, Eagles, Beatles, and Classical music.
Stefan: I was wondering, did you learned all the precious skills by yourself or you had a so called personal trainer made you familiar with all that matters guitar wizardry?
Sean: Took maybe 5 months of lessons at first, but then I kinda just threw myself at the learning process and became my own teacher if you will. Took lessons from a guy who graduated from Guitar Institute of Technology in Hollywood, but after awhile I was showing him more then he was showing me!
Stefan: Was it easy to combine your school period with practicing your favorite hobby, guitar playing?
Sean: Yes, it was actually. I have so much desire to learn that its kinda funny. Even to this day, I just love learning about the instrument. That’s one thing that has helped me more then anything, my desire to play and learn. Love it with all my being!
Stefan: May I ask how many hours a day you kept yourself busy tackling the strings of your electric tool?
Sean: When I was young, eight hours a day everyday. Now that I’m a father and husband, I try to get 2-3 hours per day!
Stefan: Let’s move to another period in your life, team up with a band. What was the name of your very first band and what about the style they played back then?
Sean: My first real band was called “Killer Criminal” out of Detroit, Michigan. We were basically Racer X but more heavier/thrashier then Racer X. Some of the best times of my life was playing with this band. Great times being young and in a great band did’nt hurt! Recorded a couple demos and did pretty well for ourselves at the time. Guitarist made up the majority of our audience. Great times indeed!
Stefan: How quickly you got the name of upcoming guitar wonder – what about the time followed to the period acting inside the ranks of your first band?
Sean: Locally, I got a name for myself during the Killer Criminal days, but it was’nt until I released the first “The Sean Baker Orchestra” cd, that I started getting fans from all of the world. Then everything went up a notch when I signed with ‘Lion Music” for the second “The Sean Baker Orchestra” cd and even more so when I signed with ShredGuy records which released my favorite cd to date”Game On!’ and also ShredGuy released our vocal cd entitled “ClownHammer”.
Stefan: While growing up, also your guitar tactics must have been improved, right?
Sean: Most importantly, my songwriting has gotten much better then my early days of writing music. I get a bigger thrill writing a great song as oppossed to playing an arpeggio! Even though playing arpeggios are fun as well! I must say though, Im having fun economy picking now as opposed to alternate picking which is all I did for many years…..
Stefan: What is the trademark of Sean Baker – In what way people from the press/media would introduce you?
Sean: Hooky songs, fun to listen to even if you dont play guitar would be the greatest compliment you could give me! My music sounds to me like a soundtrack to a movie or commercial.
Stefan: You came in touch with famous musicians who asked you to join their band I suppose, is that correct? If so, name a few important individuals that came knocking on your door in hope you wanted to team up.
Sean: I did an album with Ronny Munroe (Metal Church, Trans Siberian Orchestra), I went on tour with Bruce Bouillet (RacerX, the Scream), I just did an Ibanez clinic playing with Paul Gilbert (RacerX, Mr Big) last summer. I played with George Lynch (Dokken, Lynch Mob) and have recorded with Jeff Martin (RacerX, Badlands), Rusty Cooley, Joe Stump, Toby Knapp, and Marc Rizzo from Soulfly!
Stefan: Finally the time has come to form your own band The Sean Baker Orchestra, up-to-date you have three albums out. Yesterday, I reviewed your third piece entitled “Game On!!”, great album to me released through Shredguy Records, THE house where Shred Is Not Dead ! How did you came in touch with the label’s brainchild Michael McDowell?
Sean: Myself and Toby Knapp who is also a ShredGuy artist became friends back in the Myspace days, and he suggested to Mike (ShredGuy president) that he should hit me up about doing some projects together. A few years prior I sent Mike from ShredGuy some tunes to put on his “Shredding across the World” cd, so I was on Mike’s radar back then!
Stefan: Before we talk about your latest, third effort “Game On!!”, will you give me some detailed information on the previous two efforts from The Sean Baker Orchestra? They had the same musical character on board, what about guest musicians and what about the label who brought out the first two albums?
Sean: The first SBO cd was actually a vocal album, that was never finished so I turned it into a shred cd! “Baker’s Dozen” was the first cd that I actually wrote to BE a instrumental cd, and then of course the “Game On” cd came third!
Ive had many different musicians play on my cds which is why I call my band an “Orchestra”. Different players on every cd! I’ve some insane guest musicians including Rusty Cooley, Joe Stump, Bruce Bouillet, Toby Knapp, Marc Rizzo, Jeff Martin, and Ronny Munroe!
Game On!! was released via ShredGuy who also re-released my first SBO self titled cd, and Lion Music released my second effort “Baker’s Dozen”. My vocal band “ClownHammer” was released via ShredGuy records as well….
Stefan: Can you compare these with “Game On!!”, which album finally gets your preference and why?
Sean: Well, I really liked the first SBO cd when it came out because of the songs! “Baker’s Dozen” was the hardest cd on guitar technique wise, but my favorite by far is “Game On!!’, because it has my best songwriting and playing as well. Most fun I’ve had making a cd!
Stefan: Were you guys agree with the words I wrote in my review? Speak frankly please.
Sean: I loved your review BIG time, and even got a chuckle about “Leaving the saxophone out”!! I kinda to use them though on “Sir Duke” which is a Stevie Wonder song! That one caught a lot of people off guard which is exactly what I wanted!!
Stefan: Guest solo’s from one of my shred guitar heroes Toby Knapp and additional vocals by R. Munroe and Jeff Martin (actually faves of mine as well), also great to hear Marc Rizzo and Bruce Bouillet. I consider myself as the lucky bastard here Sean. Were they immediately agree to collaborate?
Sean: Yes! They are all great friends of mine and it was a priviledge making music with them and having these wonderful musicians on my cd! Sometimes I still cant believe that my heroes play on MY cd! Dreams come true my friend!!
Stefan: Clint Sabon (drums and bongos) and David Doningian (bass) are a fixed value in SBO, what about these guys background history?
Sean: I’ve been playing with Dave for 14 years and he is the most pro bass player I know! He hasnt shown up unprepared in 14 years and I love his playing and writing! Clint is my favorite drummer on the planet and the most musical drummer I’ve ever met! They both play on the ClownHammer cd as well. Love them both dearly….
Stefan: Production was done by the hands of Michael McDowell and yourself, recorded at the Dogman Studios in Michigan. Did everything went smoothly or were there some disagreements on some points?
Sean: Smooth as silk! I cant remember any disagreements whatsoever! I let the guys do what they do best, which is just let them be themselves. They let me be me as well, and the fact that we are great friends makes it that much easier!
Stefan: For some reason, I like the cover print reflecting a guitar on a poker game table, including bundles of cards, guitar picks and playing coins. One thing is missing to me Sean, a bottle of Jack Daniels and Cuban cigars … what’s the real essence of this way cover anyway?
Sean: LOL!!! I knew I wanted the title “Game On!!’, but I didnt want it to be about sports per se, so the great artist Tim Zulewski came up with the playing card and everything feel into place after that! Tim has designed all my instrumental cds artwork. Tim is a fantastic artist! Look him up at www.cricketbow.com
Stefan: You’d been featured in Guitar World among other magazines which is great man, tell me some more about that and the endorsement with Schecter Guitars in America please.
Sean: Mike Varney put me in his spotlight column, and Guitar Player Magazine editor in Chief Mike Molenda did a feature on me as well a year or so after that, so Ive been in Guitar Player magazine twice. Schecter Guitars endorsed me after hearing my music, after my good friend and ripping guitarist Matthew Mills introduced me to his artist rep there!
Stefan: You also signed with the prestigious Audioms for placement of your songs on television, radio and movies. A few words more about inking that deal would be good to know.
Sean: A very respected actor friend of mine heard some of my music and asked me to submit some music to his nephew which just so happened to own Audioisms. They liked what they heard and asked for my entire catalog. Im proud to be associated with all the wonderful people and companies who believed in me!
Stefan: Do you have an instruction DVD available where guitar rookies are able to learn from your outstanding skills? By the way, do you have a wise advice to those who want to be a well skilled axeman – what’s the main thing they have to keep in mind?
Sean: I teach five days a week here in Southeastern Michigan and love my students and teaching very much! My advice would be to engulf yourself into your instrument! Write songs, play with other people, and just try to have fun with it! Its hard enough on it own, believe me!
Stefan: Do you often play for a live audience – how’s a SBO live performance looks like?
Sean: I dont play out as much as I used to, primarily because I love creating music more so but I used to play out a lot! Detroit, Cleveland, and New York are a couple places we’ve done SBO shows at!
Stefan: We are now more than two years away from your last achievement “Game On!!” – first on, what kept you busy during this time span, secondly I’d like to ask if we can expect a new album soon?
Sean: ClownHammer took all of our time once we released “Game On!!”. I’ve released three cds in the last four years which kept me very busy, so Ive taken a little break since then to be honest! I emptied the well of material over the course of those three cds!
Stefan: Clownhammer is another project you’re involved with, you as shred specialist but I don’t have a clue what type of band they really are. I’m curious about your story about this band Sean?
Sean: One of my favorite cds Ive been apart of! Its a very heavy, melodic cd that we are ALL very proud of! Some of the best songwriting I’ve ever done, so listening to it puts a huge smile on my face! I hope you get a chance to listen to it as I believe you will really dig it!
Stefan: Reaching the end of this conversation there is one question crossing my mind, what are the plans for the future?
Sean: Lots of guitar playing and writing for the next SBO cd! Ihave a couple songs written now, but not nearly enough for a full cd. Hopefully, I’ll have enough material soon and we’ll do SBO4
Stefan: Nothing left to say than keep up shredding guitars the way I was able to witness on “Game On!!” ! I’m a fan of Shred Guitar Metal since the day Mike Varney released its legendary US Metal series back in the 80s. Humming amps and scorching riffs/leads are my alley so the pleasure was mine to meet someone like you. Shredguy Records introduced me and I’m very grateful to the CEO Mr. Dowell. Some last remarks before dropping the curtain over this conversation, be my guest brother… thanks for the great music and collaboration, Shred On !
Sean: Thank you very much for the great review of “Game On!!’ and I would love to hear what you think about the ClownHammer cd. Hopefully, you could review ClownHammer as well! Thanks my friend and CHEERS to all you do! Rock, Sean