We caught up with Sean Carey, a former member of Bon Iver, days before he headed out on his first solo tour to promote his debut album All We Grow. Though he writes music so beautiful it's almost haunting, Carey is still as down-to-earth as they come– he'll even teach you how to play the drums if you ask nicely.
So are you ready to head out on tour? Are you anticipating it to be much different from tours with Bon Iver?
Oh yeah, I'm excited. It'll be a lot like when Bon Iver first started. When we started out we were touring in a van sharing a hotel. By the time we ended the last Bon Iver tour, we were on a bus and spoiled rotten. So we're back in the van, back to square one.
Where are you most excited to play?
I'm really into the first week of it; we start in Vancouver and we'll work our way down the West Coast and I just love playing out there. Also looking forward to Montreal, Chicago and New York.
Are you bringing anything with you from home?
Well I have a puppy, she's a three-month-old Golden Retriever and I really wish I could take her. My wife will have to stay behind to finish her degree this fall and she'll hang out with the puppy. We might bring a tent and camp out on our way to Vancouver.
You say you started writing your own music while on tour with Bon Iver because you were "pining for your soulmate." Is that your wife?
We met in November of 2007 and the first Bon Iver tour was three months after that. A lot of the songs on this album are about her and the whole writing process kind of happened over the span of our relationship: dating, engagement and marriage. It all happened quickly, and at the same pace as the record was written and recorded.
What track are you most proud of on this album?
I really like "In the Stream," the last one I wrote. Especially for the lyrics–I think they are really meaningful to me and really adaptable to the listener–they can make their own meaning or just think about what I was trying to get through. It's about a lot of stuff that all ties together: falling in love and finding yourself, finding that you have to be humble through the whole process, connecting to Mother Earth.
You were trained in classical percussion and jazz drumming, so what were you going to do with that before the album happened?
I studied at the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire. I was just planning to be a freelance drummer, mostly jazz, so I was going to move to Minneapolis or Chicago and break into the music scene and just play gigs while teaching lessons. I never planned on going on tour and doing the folk-rock thing but I always had a passion for music. I just didn't think it was attainable.
You should teach some lessons now and make fans really happy.
I still have one student actually! He stuck it out and he's really great, writing his own music and it's pretty good. I really like teaching. I wouldn't turn anyone down, but no one has approached me in a while.
What do you wish more people knew about you?
Uh oh, that's a hard one for me. I'm just a regular guy I guess...should I lie and say something extraordinary?
No, there's nothing wrong with that. How about hobbies then?
Ok, I have a lot of hobbies! I do a lot of fly fishing which is in relation to "In The Stream." I like basketball and I run a lot– my wife and I ran a half marathon this spring which was really fun. I just like being outside, taking my dog for a walk.