Interview: Sean Baker

Dan McAvinchey: Sean, looking back, when did you first get interested in guitar, and how did you learn and progress as a player?

Sean Baker: I've been exposed to music throughout my whole life, basically because my parents were such fans of music. I've been a huge fan of the guitar since as far back as I can remember, but I guess it wasn't until I heard Eddie Van Halen's "Eruption" that I decided, "I wanna do that!" I took lessons very early on, but I think my desire to play and learn really helped my progress the most as a player.

Dan McAvinchey: Tell us a little bit about your latest CD "Baker's Dozen", released by Finland's Lion Music. How did you come up with the concept and songs for the CD?

Sean Baker: The concept for the artwork and everything was basically an accident. I had all the tunes recorded at that point, which was thirteen songs. I was talking to Bruce Bouillet on the phone, and told him I was thinking of calling the CD "Baker's Dozen". He laughed for a bit and said that he thought it was a perfect title. That was all I needed to hear. Just kinda went from there. I spend a lot of time out in Los Angeles, and one of the first things you see when you're landing at the airport is "Randy's Donuts", so I asked for permission to use the likeness and it all went from there. No real concept regarding the songs. I just basically spit out whatever was in my head that day.

Dan McAvinchey: What are some of your favorite songs off of "Baker's Dozen"?

Sean Baker: I really like the way "Dukes of New York" and "Mike Varney's Mexican Vacation" came out, but I'd say my favorites are "Whichway to Radioland" and "Verbal Skillz".

Dan McAvinchey: How has your approach to writing rhythm and lead guitar parts evolved since your first self-titled CD release?

Sean Baker: Really, they almost mirror each other. The first CD was a vocal CD before I turned it into an instrumental CD. So, the songs were written for the song's sake, and not just chords to shred over. I just took the same approach when I was writing "Baker's Dozen". I arranged the songs like I would've if it was a vocal album, then threw the guitar melodies over it.

Dan McAvinchey: What in your opinion is essential for a great guitar solo?

Sean Baker: Most important is... it must fit the song!

Dan McAvinchey: How did you hook up with Lion Music?

Sean Baker: I sent Lasse Mattsson (head of Lion Music) some songs, he replied he liked them, and asked for more. Within three days he made a offer. I'm very proud to be associated with Lion Music. They are great at what they do, and they treat thier artist great!

Dan McAvinchey: Do you get the chance to play your instrumental compositions in a live setting?

Sean Baker: Yes. I'm lucky enough to have one of the most talented bands around. We've been playing shows since 2005 I would guess. We've played shows with Joe Stump, Michael Harris, Marc Rizzo, Gary Hoey, Metal Mike, Chris Caffery, and I have shows scheduled with George Lynch, Bruce Bouillet, and Jennifer Batten coming up soon. I can't wait...

Dan McAvinchey: Why do you think certain music fans prefer instrumental music over traditional vocal oriented music?

Sean Baker: Speaking for myself, I'm just a big fan of guitar. Instrumental music tends to look at the guitar as the thing that carries a lot of the song's melodies. I think guitar has it's own unique voice in instrumental music as opposed to the vocal side of things. Which is still cool, but I just love listening to guitar players more so.

Dan McAvinchey: How has the economic slowdown across the world affected how you personally buy and discover music?

Sean Baker: I don't think as much as the Internet has affected it. I hear of all these unreal players almost daily on the web. A lot of times their music can be heard on their Myspace pages or thier regular web sites, so that's really how I discover new music, but I only really buy music when my favorite artist release something new.

interview pic

Dan McAvinchey: Are you using social media sites to promote your CDs?

Sean Baker: Yep. Myspace. I don't have a Twitter or Facebook account, but I can say a lot of people tell me that they heard of me via Myspace or Guitar9. Sites like those seem to work.

Dan McAvinchey: At this point in your career, from where do you feel you draw your greatest creative inspiration?

Sean Baker: To be honest, I think my desire to learn and to get better fuels my fire for playing music. One thing you can't teach someone is desire, and I think it all stems from there.

Dan McAvinchey: Give us an idea of what's coming up in the future for you.

Sean Baker: Lots of shows coming up for the promo of "Baker's Dozen". We'd like to go overseas, but who knows. We hoping to go on a full-on tour with Bruce Bouillet in the late winter/early fall of 2010. Start writting for the new CD.

interview picture
A Michigan native, Sean Baker was an early starter on guitar some 25 years ago, and has risen to popularity amongst the shred community thanks to his self released debut "The Sean Baker Orchestra" along with numerous features in Guitar Player magazine and the legendary Mike Varney's "Spotlight" column.

Dan McAvinchey caught up with Baker shortly after the release of his latest CD, "Baker's Dozen", and chatted about music, promotion and the future.