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INTERVIEW: Sean Lennon comes home to his musical legacy.

It’s hard enough to be a young musician, and trying to break into the music business.  There is an upside to that however.  There are no expectations, and there is relatively little pressure except that which you put on yourself.  It must be harder to be Sean Lennon.  His first album, much in the vein of a lot of his father’s artier work, and his mother’s work, was a great exercise in art.  Demanding pop-rock is what I like to call it.  It is not the easiest thing to listen to by any means.  A huge sense of pressure must have been lifted from Sean Lennon with the release of this album… 

Well several years have passed and the pressure had been building on Sean Lennon.  Few snippets of news would come out that he is working on this mammoth of a pop album.  Lately, the critics have been giving him good to great reviews.  You see, this album is the album that they’ve been expecting  to be made by the son of a Beatle, aside from Julian Lennon’s amazing and largely ignored Photograph Smile.  Sean’s new album is a beauty in that in manages to combine some of his fringe musical sensibilities inside these lovely pop songs.  Dare I say it, it sounds Beatlesque, ala Elliott Smith.  All puns aside it is a great album that the indie kids should dig.  Being the son of a Beatle is hard enough, however, being a musician and the son of a Beatle must be even harder.  Kudos to you Sean for sticking to your muses and writing songs for you.  Your father would be proud.

I love the question in the interview that asks about The Beatles and their influence on him.  It reminds me of one of those early inane Beatle press conference questions.   Of course The Beatles are an influence on him.  He is a rock/pop musician.  Doesn’t the interviewer know that if you are a musician, it’s in your blood, it’s undeniable, you have to be influenced by The Beatles, unless you were raised in a cave in the Arctic.  Funny.

Here’s what we’ve read.

If we had Shakespeare around to write about Sean Lennon, he might call the play “Henry IV 1/2.”

Shakespeare’s “Henry IV” (Parts I and II) and “Henry V” explored the progression of a spoiled, partying, bad-boy prince into a courageous, inspiring King. Sean Lennon, son of John, seems to be trapped somewhere between the slacker prince and the heir to his father’s musical throne.

For years, the youngest Lennon (he is 31; Julian Lennon is his older half-brother) has been known more for his celebrity romances – with Mick Jagger’s daughter Elizabeth, actresses Bijou Phillips and Lindsay Lohan – than for his actual work. He had come to be viewed as a musical underachiever, wasting away whatever talent he might have been harboring.

(Interview is under the cut.)

Now, eight years after his promising first album, he has finally released his second full-length, “Friendly Fire.” Here, Lennon sings in a relaxed voice about love and loss over pleasing pop music that has, at times, Beatles-esque melodies and arrangements. It comes with a second disc, a DVD with extravagant music videos produced by his mother, the artist Yoko Ono, and featuring Lohan, Phillips, Carrie Fisher and other familiar actors. He calls the combined videos “an art film.” (Visit http://www.seanonolennon.com for excerpts.)

During a recent phone interview, Lennon sounded like a reluctant royal, committed to making pop music but not terribly comfortable as a celebrity – or, as he puts it, a “cultural phenomenon.” His voice is gentle and lilting, though the tone of his brief answers ranged between languidly tight-lipped and sharply guarded.

The reviews have been more friendly than fiery, but don’t expect the next John Lennon. As the occasionally Zen-sounding Sean warns: “Expectation is the root of all disappointment.”

Q: Well, it’s been long time no music. Why so long?

A: … I always write songs. I didn’t want to deal with the superficial aspects of promoting myself and all that crap.

Q: Like what you’re doing right now?

A: Exactly what I’m doing now. I’ve come to a point in my life where I realize I shouldn’t fight the inevitable. One must accept reality.

Q: What was it like to work with your mother on the videos?

A: She produced them. She advised me on business and technical decisions; she’s a great filmmaker.

Q: Did she give you any acting directions?

A: If you can call it acting … it’s just me goofing around.

Q: Did that make you want to act in movies?

A: I don’t have the face for it. I’m not the type.

Q: Why are you a musician?

A: Probably because it’s the hardest thing to do. … Probably there’s like some Freudian reason I’ve chosen to do it that I don’t understand.

Q: Is it rewarding?

A: Music is very satisfying. It’s immediately satisfying.

Q: You’re the son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono – do you ever feel like you should just get away from all the pressure of being a musician and be a lawyer or something?

A: If I thought that would relieve the pressure maybe I would, but I don’t see any release … from being this cultural phenomenon.

Q: What are your favorite memories of your father, as a musician and as a father?

A: I don’t like talking about that. It’s a bit too precious to give it away too easily.

Q: How about your favorite Beatles song?

A: I don’t have favorite things. I don’t have a favorite color. (suddenly) “Rubber Soul” – no, not “Rubber Soul,” “Revolver.” (Two Beatles albums.)

Q: Just about every other pop musician in your generation has been influenced by the Beatles. Is it fair for you to be?

A: Is it fair? I don’t think fair has anything to do with it. As a musician you’re influenced by people doing good music before you, whether it’s Beethoven or Bob Dylan or Elvis …

Q: Or the Beatles?

A: How could you not be influenced by the Beatles if you write songs? If you make anything as an artist you have to study the masters or else there’s no point.

Q: What were you wanting “Friendly Fire” to be – a pop record? A dance record?

A: Not really a dance record, more like a take-a-bath record. Expectations are the root of all disappointment.

Q: Are you happy with how it’s been received?

A: I think my satisfaction is found more in the process of making music than societal recognition.

Source: AZ Central


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