Independent Record Label | Est. 2009
Wilmington, North Carolina



Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Finding ‘Paradise’: Sean Thomas Gerard talks new music, fatherhood and upcoming release of his LP

[Repost from Port City Daily; by Shea Carver, February 23, 2021]

Sean Thomas Gerard has spent the last year creating eight new tracks for his latest LP, “Finally Found a Paradise,” coming out on Fort Lowell Records in March.

WILMINGTON – Though 2020 will be marked by loss and hardship for many, for local musician Sean Thomas Gerard, he managed to create paradise — at least in some form. Gerard will release his upcoming LP, “Finally Found a Paradise,” next month after spending a year prolifically recording and writing.

Despite losing the majority of his live gigs from the pandemic — not to mention going on hiatus from booking and running shows at downtown’s Bourgie Nights — Gerard gained something even more blissful in the last year: the title “stay-at-home dad” to his baby girl, Jovie.

“The good thing for me is that she’s fairly predictable with her naps,” Gerard said. “So, you know, about 12:30 every day, she goes down for two hours, and that’s my time to either go out for a bike ride or work on music.”

Most days over the last year he’s focused on the latter. Gerard has completed eight songs as part of “Paradise” and already has begun tracks for his next LP. First things first, “Paradise” will be a mix of new and old songs, some that Gerard even played with his band Onward, Soldiers throughout the years.

Usually, he begins his writing process on acoustic guitar or piano. When he gets into his home recording studio, he lays down the drum track first, then the guitar, then the vocals.

“It becomes a whole experimental process,” Gerard said. “I don’t write super complicated music — I’m more about layers.”

While most stuff turns out the way he envisions it, a few manage to appear in better form. Take “Wild Inside,” for example, which contains lyrics that bestowed the album’s title “Finally Found a Paradise.”

“Initially, I wrote that on piano, and I thought it was just going to be a ballad,” Gerard explained. “It ended up with a couple synthesizer sounds and instead became this whole ‘80s track. My wife says it sounds like a song that would be played at an ‘80s prom, like in a slow-dance shot in a movie.”

Color your own paradise
It’s been four years since Gerard’s last album, “Avalon.”

“I’ve given people plenty of time to forget me,” the musician quipped.

The journey of “Paradise” began in 2019, in all fairness. Gerard started picking away at his most personal tune yet, “Jovie,” written for his first child. He created it during his wife’s pregnancy, and played it for her for the first time the night before Jovie was born.

“I was in tears, she was in tears,” Gerard reflected, “and the next day she had Jovie. When we brought her home from the hospital, that was the first thing I played for her. Her eyes just lit up like she knew it.” 

Gerard released the pedal-steel folk song last April — a sleepy tune that could have been birthed from Wilco and George Harrison combined. Nine months later it has received more than 10,000 streams on Spotify.

Though “Jovie” took the longest to write, Gerard said some of his other songs for the album came rather quickly. “Sail Off in the Sunset” was written in 30 minutes. The song was inspired from living in the doldrums of a pandemic and needing escape.

“You’ve gone through hell and you’re coming out on the other side,” Gerard described. “That’s the hopeful vibe of it.”

Gerard even made a video from public domain footage of beach scenes, sailboats, surfers and other sunny-day good vibes. Gerard ran the imagery through a Super-8 app, did some time-lapse shots and filtered it to look grainy like an old movie.

“I showed it to my mom and sister, and they’re like, ‘Wow, that was really just three-and-a-half minutes of being totally relaxed watching something,’” Gerard said.

The video will premiere on March 15 on the Blood Makes Noise blog, while “Finally Found a Paradise” will come out on Fort Lowell Records on March 30 — though Gerard will drop his third single on March. 19. Gerard has worked with Lowell founders James Tritten and Tracy Shedd for years, including last year, contributing a track to their “GROW” compilation.

Gerard said he’s doing a rather unusual release for “Paradise,” shifting as necessary in the world of Covid-19, since hosting live release parties can’t be done. He’s not doing a livestream either, something many musicians have turned to in today’s unrelenting market.

“I don’t love streaming,” Gerard admitted. “I did a live stream when I put the ‘Jovie’ single out — and I was so much more nervous than I’ve ever been playing.”

To celebrate the release, Gerard teamed up with artist and musician-friend Chris Frisina (Sleepy Cat Records) to do the album cover. When folks buy the digital download, they’ll get a poster of the album and a vinyl sticker. They can choose the poster in color or black and white. 

“My whole idea is that you color your own paradise on the black-and-white one,” Gerard said. “So I’m encouraging people to either give it to their kids or be creative with it — to draw, color, paint their own version of the album cover.”

He’s also encouraging fans to post their creations and tag him by using #finallyfoundaparadise. When they do, they will get a special gift from Gerard, like an unreleased song or an acoustic version of one of his tracks from “Paradise.”

“I have a kid now, so I understand they need things to do, and I’m hoping that somebody gives the poster to the kid and puts it on on their Instagram, and we can have a good laugh about how funny it looks, or how amazing their kid is,” Gerard said. “Hopefully, it becomes a little thing for people to have some fun with.”

The first two singles, “Jovie” and “Strange & Electrifying,” from “Finally Found a Paradise” can be streamed on Sean Thomas Gerard’s Soundcloud or Spotify.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Saint Maybe - She's Alright (Live Solo Acoustic Performance by Oliver Ray)

Watch Oliver Ray of Saint Maybe [FLR009] perform their song "She's Alright" from their 2012 debut album Things As They Are.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Happy Birthday, Wes McCanse of video?

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Happy Birthday, Emily Wilder of Wet & Reckless

Monday, February 15, 2021

Saint Maybe "Way With Words" (Solo Acoustic Performance)

Watch Oliver Ray of Saint Maybe (plus Patti Smith) perform the song "Way With Words" from their 2012 debut album Things As They Are live here on YouTube:

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Happy Birthday, Steven Patrick Haley

It is no surprise that some of the most beautiful people in the world are born on this day: February 14th, Valentine's Day. One of them happens to be the very reason I even have a career in music, simply by answering "Yes" to the question I asked him nearly 30-years ago when I was first introduced to him at high school in Orange Park, Florida: "Do you want to be in a band?" Happy Birthday to one of the most talented, loving people I know in this world: Steven Patrick Haley! • Photos of our bands Sella + Audio Explorations. ~ James Tritten, Fort Lowell Records

Friday, February 12, 2021

Wilmington love songs for Valentine's Day

Most songs are love songs in one way or another: what love feels like, what NOT having it feels like, and all of the infinitely complex feelings and shades of gray in between.

So, with Valentine's Day on Sunday, let's take a look at a few love songs that have been written by Wilmington artists over the years -- at 14, it's just a fraction of what's out there, with dozens more worthy entries that will have to go unmentioned in this story.

*NOTE: This repost of the original StarNews Online post has been edited to highlight the (4) artists out of the total fourteen who were featured on Fort Lowell Records' GROW: A Compilation in Solidarity with Black Lives MatterPlease view the original post here to learn about all fourteen artists that were included.

The Rosebuds: "Wishes for Kisses"

This soaring, anthemic song is from The Rosebuds' 2003 Merge Records debut, "The Rosebuds Make Out." Much of it was written (and, early on, performed) in Wilmington before the band (Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp) moved to Raleigh. "Wishes for Kisses" captures the nervous hopefulness of a love, or a crush, in its early stages, a dream both unfulfilled and much-ruminated on. Lovely lyric: "But he's thought of everything/ The songbooks, the songs they would sing/ He's makin' his wish list/ And wishin' for kisses tonight."

Sean Thomas Gerard: "Jovie"

The love of a parent for a child is among the emotion's purest forms. Sean Thomas Gerard, known for his work with Wilmington rockers Onward, Soldiers, wrote this dreamy soft-rock tune for his daughter the day before she was born last year. It'll be on his upcoming album "Finally Found a Paradise," set to be released March 30 on Wilmington's own Fort Lowell Records. Lovely lyric:"Jovie/ Hope you let me down slowly/ When you feel like you're fenced in/ Call my name and I'll be there in an instant."

More: New Wilmington song ‘Jovie’ will lift your spirits

Tracy Shedd: "Valentine"

Short and sweet, with a hint of darkness, like chocolate. Wilmington-based singer Shedd's vocals are on time here, dreamy and delicate like a memory of long-lost love. Lovely lyric: "Take me back to the place I can dream/ And I'll dream all day."

Pinky Verde: "Antacid 750s"

Heather Jensen, who records and performs moody indie rock under the moniker Pinky Verde, released the song “Antacid 750s" last year. It's about the intense emotion conjured by a new love affair, and slyly compares those feelings to a different kind of heartburn. Jensen's laid-back delivery makes it all sound like no big deal, but her lyrics give away her true feelings. Lovely lyric: "Days so content with you spent/ Haven't felt a hunger/ Haven't eaten for days/ Don't need to when I'm here with you."

More: Wilmington band Pinky Verde releases song from the heart

"Love is a complex emotion, as shown by this heart-shaped graffiti in Smith Alley between Market and Princess streets -- and as shown by the love songs written by Wilmington musicians." [Photo By Paul Stephen]

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Pre-Order Sean Thomas Gerard's sophomore album now

On Tuesday, March 30, 2021 Wilmington, North Carolina's own indie folk rocker Sean Thomas Gerard's new Digital LP titled Finally Found a Paradise will be released on all digital music platforms.  However, you can pre-order Gerard's sophomore solo album now on Bandcamp and you will receive two tracks from Finally Found a Paradise -- "Strange & Electrifying" and "Jovie" -- immediately.


Friday, February 5, 2021

Tucson sounds - A nice quarantine getaway

[Repost from The Tucson Sentinel; by Julie Jennings Patterson, February 4, 2021]

Once upon a time, your favorite music writer was but a lowly high school rock fan, scribbling goth adjacent poetry and political opinions in notebooks and thinking up terrible headline puns for her high school newspaper along the lines of “tennis team swings into action.” But, then, senior year rolled around and your humble teenage scribe fell into a funk, afflicted by writer’s block, feeling like it was all just an exercise in futility. 

Luckily, once upon that time, I also had some good friends, one of whom was a classmate who played guitar and wrote and sang and seemingly knew every underground British / Australian / New Zealand pop band worth knowing and had introduced us all to groups like XTC and the Church.  And that friend happened to be part of a school sponsored writer’s group that met at lunch once a week, and insisted, repeatedly that I HAD to join it. So I did. And things got a little bit better. And at the end of the year, when we were all penning pseudo profound things in each other’s yearbooks, that friend signed mine with a plea for me to not stop writing. 

Mind you, I’ve struggled with writer’s block for most of my adult life, so that advice was hard to stick to over the years. Years later, the same friend sold me my first bass guitar, one of a few instances of kismet that helped put me on the path toward writing about music. So, I guess I kind of owe a debt of thanks to that dude.

“That dude” happens to be one Andrew Gardner, frontman and architect of Tucson based psych/indie pop band La Cerca. The bands’ latest release, “A Nice Sweet Getaway” should have been the centerpiece of a cross-country tour last year, but the best laid plans of mice and men are quite undone by a global pandemic and the record didn’t get the usual extra dose of word of mouth traction that a tour usually provides.

But while the band didn’t get a chance to hit the road this year, they did make a record that’s well suited for one’s own socially distanced road trip.

Released on Fort Lowell Records, which also put out La Cerca’s 2014 effort “Sunrise For Everyone,” the new release sees Gardner and company moving beyond the confines of their jangly indie pop past into slightly  more ambient and experimental territory. What on past releases might have served as delay heavy guitar solos or bridges or trippy musical interludes within the standard verse-chorus-verse format serve as the main fare here, with instrumental flights of fancy leading the way and traditional song structure sticking its head out the window and enjoying the sunset for a change.