THE GREAT SABATINI sounds like a grand magician. Perhaps a wizardry on the guitar. Check out this interview answered by The Great Sabatini – guitar/vocals – Sean Sabatini. Anders Ekdahl ©2018
What pressure is there in releasing an album compared to a demo? Do you feel that there is a sort of pressure to succeed when you release and album, that it sorta is for real now?
-We don’t make demos in order to court labels, not anymore at least. The only reason we may demo any new material is for pre-production purposes. We’ve only ever felt pressure to better ourselves as we progress. We’re an independent band and when we work with a label it’s always been an indie label. Art first… so I guess pressure hasn’t really been a concern to us, other than our own ambition.
When you release a record of any sort what kind of expectations do you have on it? Do you set up goals for it?
-I’m not sure I follow what sort of expectations you may be referring to… in terms of sales or critical reception, we always hope it will be received better than the last record. But our top concern when releasing a new album is that it satisfy our creative ambitions, and maybe that it reach the audience we’ve gathered over the last decade or so, and then some, hopefully.
When you release an album and you go out and play live and people know your songs, how weird is that? That people know what you have written on your own?
-It isn’t weird, to me. It’s flattering, sometimes it’s humbling. It’s rewarding… because we don’t expect anyone to respond the songs the same way we ourselves do… so when it happens, it’s very uplifting.
Do you feel that you have to follow in the footsteps of the last album for a new when it comes to lyrics and art work for everything so that those that bought the previous record will recognize your sound?
-Nope. We follow our muse, wherever that happens to take us. I’m not that sort of fan, myself. I don’t try to let my expectations limit my appreciation for a band’s new material… I may like it, or I may not… but I’d never fault a band for trying something different. In fact, I’m probably more likely to be disappointed if a band keeps making the same sort of record. So, for us, our fan’s expectations are irrelevant.
Do you feel like you are a part of a greater community because you play in a band?
-Yes. I’ve been fortunate to play around the world and meet people in an underground community everywhere we’ve been. It makes the world a lot smaller.
How hard/easy is it to come up with new songs that that still are you but doesn’t sound like anything you’ve already written?
-Sometimes you get some writer’s block but aside from that, I find it very easy to be creative. I’ve spent my entire adolescent and adult life with creative pursuits… I find it hard to relax if I haven’t done something creative with my day. So we’ve been sort of a prolific band in our time. I guess that means it’s easy for us.
What influences/inspires you today? Where do you draw inspiration from? Is it important to have some sort of message?
-I draw from whatever music I’m listening to at the time. I tend to fixate on something for a while and then move on to the next thing. I’m not interested in aping anything but I feel like there’s always a takeaway from something that inspires you. You just find some nugget in there and shape it into something distinct for yourself. Often, a book or movie or painting or something will inspire me musically. All of our songs have some sort of inherent meaning but I don’t feel it’s super important for music to carry a message. I’m not preaching to anyone with our music.
We hear about what state the record industry is in. Then we hear that cd sales are increasing. As a band that releases records do you notice the state the industry is in?
-I’m out of the loop, mostly. I hadn’t heard that CD sales were increasing, but I don’t really have my ear to the ground on that. My band exists outside of the general market for music. We’re very small. We do what works for us, though. For example, pressing CD copies of our music isn’t economically smart. We don’t sell enough of them. Vinyl and tapes, small runs of both, work nicely, because the sort of people who like my band generally want one of those formats if they want a physical object that they can listen to. Then there’s streaming and digital downloads. We fill the demand for our music and try to push it to higher numbers than the previous records but there’s a low ceiling on this sort of music, especially if you’re not willing or able to head out and tour heavily. We used to do that but we don’t any longer. Not on the same rigorous level that we once did. So I guess my knowledge of music biz economics is mostly centered on my experience inside our little corner of it.
What is your opinion on digital verses physical?
-I enjoy collecting records and CD’s, and even some tapes. But I feel like it’s not really the best thing for music, consumption wise. Digital media, particularly streaming, will be the future, I think. It’s cool to own a book, or a record, as an extension of the music itself, and the statement the artist is making. But this is the old model for media. An album could be 12 hours long if you wanted it to be. Or it could include a bigger visual element or something. Once you ditch the album format, a lot more possibilities open up for music as an art form, and for opening the minds of people who consume it. I like sitting at home and putting a record on and looking at the cover art. But it’s becoming archaic. I guess most people listen to music on YouTube right now, which is sad, if only for the quality of sound. But folks listened to AM radio in their cars on crappy sound systems for decades. Digital media is the path of least resistance for the foreseeable future. And I love music, more than I love a piece of plastic that carries it.
What lies in the future?
-If I knew that, I’d probably be a wealthier man.