Smile Empty Soul’s Sean Danielsen Talks ‘Rarities,’ Covering Nirvana and More


Story by Anne Erickson

Interview: Smile Empty Soul vocalist Sean Danielsen talks about the band’s new “Rarities” set, covering Nirvana and more

Smile Empty Soul have recorded plenty of songs over the years that haven’t quite made their albums. Instead of letting those tracks go to waste, the guys have compiled them on a new album, called “Rarities,” which brings together a mix of original tracks and covers that up until now have gone unheard.

Sean Danielsen, lead vocalist of the California rock band, spoke with Audio Ink Radio about the just-released “Rarities” set, what’s ahead for Smile Empty Soul and why it never gets old to hear fans passionately singing along to their music.

Tell me the story behind all of these lost songs that appear on the upcoming “Rarities” album.

After doing what we do for so long, we have all these studio sessions that end up just kind of sitting around and not making the records. We thought there were some cool tracks on there and it was good timing for us, so we grouped them all together and put out “Rarities.”

You do a cover of Nirvana’s “Aneurysm” on the album. What’s the story behind doing that cover?

We grew up listening to the ‘90s grunge scene quite a bit as youngsters, and it just so worked out that sometime in 2008, we were in the studio somewhere and busted out that “Aneurysm” cover, and it’s a good time to get out there.

Do you have a favorite song off “Rarities?” There are quite a few originals, as well as covers, on there.

Actually, I’m really stoked about the Tori Amos cover that we did for the song “Precious Things.” I was excited to get that out there, because I thought that turned out great, and it just never made sense to put it on a release before. So, I’m excited to put that out there and see what our fans think.

Smile Empty Soul first broke big in 2003 with your self-titled debut. How has the music industry changed since you guys started out?

It’s not the same industry that it once was. There are positives to it and there are negatives to it. There are pros and cons, as there is any situation. It’s become a lot harder to exist in the music industry and make ends meet, but then at the same time, there are some interesting new ways you can do things to profit more on certain things that didn’t profit before. We’ve learned to adapt with it and figure out a way to survive no matter where it’s gone.

Do you still enjoy playing your early hits, like “Silhouettes” and “Bottom of a Bottle,” more than a decade later?

We do enjoy playing them because of the crowd reaction. People get pumped for those songs and participate, and as a songwriter, even if you’re tired of the song, it still never gets old to hear a packed house full of people passionately singing the words along with you. It’s a reminder that what you been doing all this time hasn’t been a waste and that you’ve touched people’s lives with the songs you’ve written.

Photo credit: Ronald Pruitt

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