By Andrew Catania
Shred is not dead. When you look at ShredGuy Records, you can see it’s alive and well. When I first saw Sean Baker, I asked him if he was related to Kerry King as they look a lot alike. What I soon learned was the Sean Baker Orchestra kicks some serious ass. I listened to Sean’s latest record on autoplay 3 times while sitting in Orlando traffic recently. I recently spoke with Sean and asked him how did the SBO start among other things.
Sean, how did you start playing guitar? At what age?
Always been a huge fan of music. My parents always listened to music when I was growing up, so I think that had a huge impact on me. As corny as it sounds when I heard Van Halen’s “Eruption” I knew I had to play guitar! Eddie had it all: Badass songs and jaw-dropping guitar solos. Hearing him as a youngster really made want to play an instrument (guitar), where I never really had an interest in playing music up to that point. Thank you, Eddie Van Halen!
Were you self-taught or had traditional lessons?
Tried traditional lessons first, but quickly got bored with the Mel Bay method. Here I was wanting to play Van Halen and the like, and I’m painfully learning ” Shoo Fly, Don’t bother Me”! Gave up traditional lessons, and went for it on my own for awhile until I took about two months worth of lessons from a dude that graduated from G.I.T in Hollywood. After about six or seven lessons with him, I realized I was showing him more then he was teaching me and decided to start my own lifelong journey into the world of music!
Were you in any bands during your younger years?
Yes! I’ve been in bands since high school really. The majority of them being vocal bands with local area musicians (Detroit area). Played with some great bands through the years and had a great time growing up and playing music with my friends! After one of my vocal projects fell apart in 2002, I took some of the vocal songs we had recorded and turned them into instrumental guitar songs, which became my first CD with The Sean Baker Orchestra. Which was re-released on ShredGuy Records
Explain how you came up with the concept the Sean Baker Orchestra?
Basically, the concept for SBO was to write instrumental music and have as many of my friends and heroes as I could come in and play on the songs! Whether it be live or record in the studio. I could get all these different players to come in and be a part of my “Orchestra” and I would basically be the conductor. It’s been great too! Rusty Cooley, Marc Rizzo, Joe Stump, Toby Knapp, and Bruce Bouillet have all contributed badass solos on my CDs! Even RacerX singer Jeff Martin and TSO/ Metal Church vocalist Ronny Munroe sang tunes on our CD” Game On!!!”. So it’s been kickass in every sense.
What other instruments do you play?
I play bass, guitar, and have just taken a likening to Ukulele!
Do you improvise when you’re playing live?
Hell yea! I love improvising and I think it’s the most fun thing about playing guitar! Constructing solos is totally fun, but there is nothing like just going for it! There is an art to playing stuff off the top of your head that sounds like you worked on it for ten years! Guthrie Govan makes all of us look bad with his skills of improvisation! Something about falling down the stairs and landing on your feet just gives me goose bumps!
Who are your influences?
Mr. Van Halen of course, YngPaul Gilbert, Jason Becker, George Lynch, Yngwie, and a bunch of the Mike Varney style shredders! I also love Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Steely Dan, and a ton of seventies songwriters which I believe is the strongest era for songwriting.
What’s your rig setup?
My rig is really simple: I play and endorse Schecter Guitars. I have six, seven, and eight string guitars from Schecter and love them dearly! Great company too! My amp is a Randall RM 100 which is an MTS modular amp. Great sounding amp with great versatility. My pedal board consists of Boss delay and noise suppressor, MXR phaser, Ibanez screaming demon wah pedal, and I use a Jason Becker Perpetual Burn overdrive to wet the distorted tones so they aren’t so dry.
How long did it take you to record this record?
Game On!! Was by far the easiest cd I have ever made! I demoed each song on my phone and sent it to the bassist Dave Donigian, and drummer Clint Sabon. I think we rehearsed three times and went in the studio. Drums and bass were done in two days, and it took awhile to get guitars done. I had the most fun making that CD and I’m very proud of the results! It was my first release on the Shredguy label, so I wanted to come up with something special and I believe we did just that! My finest hour so far…..The ClownHammer CD was easy to record, but we spent a TON of time in pre-production which actually helped us in the recording process. We worked really hard writing the songs, down to paying attention to every syllable vocally. We all wrote vocal melodies and lyrics which was a first for me. I think the ClownHammer CD is great and will always be proud of that particular project! Shredguy did a great job promoting the CD and actually getting the CD made! Mike McDowell has been great to me since day one and I adore the dude for what he has done for me and the shred community! Thanks, Mike! You can pick up ClownHammer and The Sean Baker Orchestra CDs online at Shredguy’s website!
Do you have any plans for any nationwide touring?
No plans really, but if a great offer came about I would jump on it! I played a lot of shows out here opening for various guitarist and did a tour with Bruce Bouillet in 2013, so I’ve done a fair amount of live shows. Opening for Jennifer Batten, Chris Poland, Nevermore, Gary Hoey, Uli Jon Roth, Marc Rizzo, Joe Stump, Mike Orlando, and much more was a total blast. I just love creating and playing music so I try not to close any doors where I get to do that!
To order Sean Baker Orchestra CD @ http://www.shredguyrecords.bigcartel.com/