Interview: Sean White

Chicago-based standup Sean White has been regarded as one of the best in town for a few years at this point, wringing out fresh, insightful material from such well-trod topics as death and divorce. Tomorrow night, Saturday September 20th, at 8pm and 10:30pm, at Timothy O'Tooles, Sean will record Dead & Gone, his first standup album.

I spoke with Sean about the process of preparing for the recording and what he plans to do after the album is in the bank. Tickets are almost sold out but can be purchased, for now, by clicking here.

The Steamroller: How did you know now was the right time to record an album? 

Sean White: The hardest part of painting a painting is knowing when to put the brush down. While I could easily work more to perfect the set more and more, I feel ready to move on to new subjects and feel the act of training myself to produce more on different subjects is more important than focusing on this particular set of material. I'm happy with it and am ready to move on. 

TS: How did you land on Dead & Gone for an album title?

Sean: The album covers two subjects which are reflected in the title. I speak primarily on the passing of loved ones and divorce hence the title, "Dead and Gone".

TS: Are you working with any outside parties for the production/release of the album or is this a strictly DIY operation? Why did you chose to go that route?

Sean: I am in talks with a record label for digital distribution and will not be able to confirm anything until the final product is ready and everything is finalized. If our goals however do not line up, then it will be DIY as to the listings on online retailers.

I've already researched both options extensively and am prepared for whatever needs to happen to produce the album properly and in the best way for all parties involved. 

TS: What goes into preparing for an recording like this? Were there any specific albums or live specials you looked to for inspiration when preparing for the recording?

Sean: No special prep other than working on it in both small and large sets to prepare. As for watching others, I only try to remember that in George Carlin's first special for HBO where he did the 7 words you can't say bit, he brought his notes on stage and talked about how nervous he was. I take from that, do what you want but be comfortable and feel free to not hide any feelings you may have. Be honest, the rest will follow. Hopefully. 

TS: You're recording the album at Timothy O'Tooles, what makes that room so conducive to not only live performance, but the documenting of live performance?

Sean: The management. The staff and all the comics who produce the room take their job very seriously and do an amazing job. It's really all them that give me the confidence to know all I need to worry about is putting out the best product I can. They'll handle the rest. 

TS: What's next for Sean White? Is a move to LA/NY on the horizon? Why/why not?

Sean: I plan to finish my next sets and have another 40 ready by the album release in May. I see no reason to leave Chicago while I can still live off what I love in the city I love doing it. If they want me, they'll know where to find me.

So more material, more recordings, more work, and a hell of a lot more of the city I love that isn't afraid to kick the crap out of me at every turn ensuring I'm the best comic I can be. I'm not in this to prove to anyone anything. I don't need their press or their writing jobs. I need an audience that's willing to let me work. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Nothing's wrong here so leaving seems like it would be an act of boredom more so than a logical career move. I'll just keep pumping out albums until people are sick of me.

THEN I'll move, maybe.