Artist Profile: Sean McCole
Versatile and talented. Up and coming musician, composer, and producer, Sean Pikofsky AKA Sean McCole’s passion for making music cannot be mistaken. Sean plays the piano, keyboard, drums, and bass. The grunge band he currently plays the bass for, Dead Original, have performed at The Rave-Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee opening for Seether, in front of 3,500 people. The Columbia College Chicago graduate is also working on his solo career as well, releasing new music soon. For 22 years old, Sean is very aware of the current state of his music and his life. “I wonder if I will ever get this off the ground… I do have to remind myself though, I sit down and take a deep breath and remind myself that I come down here to make music because it is what I love.” Sean’s positive attitude and talent are bound to lead him to create great music in the future.
McCole on Creating Messages In Music:
It’s a more selfish approach, but write music that you personally would be listening to and the message you would like to take away from it. We have different motives for writing a song: love, anger, fear, it all depends on what you’re feeling. It depends on the conditions you are currently in. Most importantly, you should write music for you. Once you start doing it for other people to make them receive a message a certain way, it will not be sincere.
On Writing Lyrics:
When I write lyrics, if something semantically sounds good, rhythmically, I just run with it. There may not be a poetic meaning behind it yet, it is more about feel and sound for me right now.
On His Early Musical Inspiration:
My first show was Green Day’s American Idiot Tour in 2005. That show changed my life. It changed how I perceived music and from there on out, I knew I wanted to play music or just be around it in some capacity, even just talking about it.
On His Current Favorites:
I am growing fond of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Nine Inch Nails, and Radiohead. Trent Reznor (Of Nine Inch Nails) Created the Music in The Social Network. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross were a powerful dynamic duo. Their ability to express the human condition without words can just sum up an entire story in a few notes, it’s incredible. It makes me comfortable, I can do stuff like that. I may not be Jim Morrison (The Doors) or the greatest lyricist or storyteller, but in time maybe I can be. I think I know how to really express myself with minimal notes but a lot of passion behind it.
On Songs That He Truly Resonates With:
Everything starts to sound the same, if you listen to the radio, it’s the same stuff, it’s a blend of the same song. When you hear something that catches your ear, it’s gritty, it throws you off, that’s what catches my ear. I like a lot of classic rock, stuff that’s raw. I like music with a lot of character and soul. When you hear those little mistakes but it still works. When you hear “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones, the backup vocals by Merry Clayton, they called her in at 3 in the morning, and she was tired and after so many takes her gut couldn’t take it and her voice cracks. They left that in there because it makes that song more human. I love those voices with character and grit, Brittany Howard (Of Alabama Shakes) is no Ariana Grande, you hear the rasp and grit when she sings.
On His Creative Process:
In my high school band, Via Clara, that were a lot of people involved in the songwriting and overall process, which was nice because we got to bounce ideas off of each other. In my current band, Dead Original, I’m a little more hands-off in terms of the arrangement and nitty-gritty songwriting. The music I work on independently, I’ve been writing, producing, recording, arranging and even mixing to a degree, by myself. I have recently been getting other people involved to help with the mixing. Do what you’re good at, but get help along the way if you aren’t very strong in a certain area. I do like working alone, but at times you get stuck and you wish there were people you could bounce ideas off of.
On Finding Motivation:
I listen to music non-interactively, more analytical, ask myself “how are they arranging this?” Also, whatever feeling the song provokes, I feel like I can similarly replicate that energy. At times, I can step away from music, I won’t touch my gear, and I’ll do something completely different. Something random can trigger inspiration.
On Performing Live:
In November, with Dead Original, we opened for Seether at The Eagles Rave in Milwaukee in front of 3,500 people. I was pretty nervous at first, but after the first song, I sort of got my bearings. Some people were totally getting into it, some weren’t. I was wearing my dad’s Rush shirt and there was a guy in the front row who was pumped that I was wearing it. The last performance was with Via Clara at this bar called The Mutiny (which is no longer around) at around 3 in the morning. We were covering Black Sabbath, The Clash and mixing it with some of our originals. People were falling asleep, it was so early in the morning. When we went on, we were able to bring a certain energy and people went nuts.
On His Song “Rebelution”
I’ve been thinking about remixing this and putting it out there again on the streaming services. I used it for a class project at Columbia for marketing a song. I was scared because I didn’t know if anyone would like it. My professor said it was great but it could use some help mixing it. The meaning behind it is basically eluding to the current political climate we are in and all of the tension in Chicago. Everyone is dealing with their own feelings and anger toward the climate in Chicago, we feel we are helpless going up against an unstoppable, corrupt machine, and that’s frustrating. We want to be able to come together, get on the same page and defeat this machine.
On The Current State of Rock and Roll:
The definition of rock is not necessarily cookie cutter pop, I do not think it has to be guitar and drums. It needs this attitude that gives the middle finger to what is going on. I like Billie Eilish, I think she is pretty rock and roll, her videos are very eccentric. She’s no Cardi B, and thank god for that, don’t get me started. Rock is not supposed to be safe. Everyone wants to make a hit song, but it’s more than that. Are you sacrificing your whole sound to this cookie cutter formula? Then that isn’t rock and roll. There isn’t really one rock sound.
With music, I am super anxious. There is so much competition and over-saturation, but at the same time, you don’t need a record label to build a following. Some music is out there that just lacks quality and is garbage, but they know their target market. There are some people who put hours and hours into their craft and are struggling. I wonder if I will ever get this off the ground. I do have to remind myself though, I sit down and take a deep breath and remind myself that I come down here to make music because it is what I love. I would love to do it for a living, but past that, I do this because I love it. If I am doing it for other reasons, then there is something skewed. That has helped me combat those fears. Those fears can be so debilitating and it hinders what you want to do, but you have to have those reality checks and understand you have to do things that you love.