A sold out Joiners show is pretty impressive, but it seemed all too easy for 19-year old Southampton lad Seán McGowan, who pushed the venue’s capacity to the limits, and had disappointed fans who hadn’t managed to secure a ticket. They were warned it would sell out! Of course a lot of hard work went into the months running up to the gig, which was for the launch of Seán’s second E.P, The People’s Music. Seán got there at 2pm and had decorated the place with balloons with the E.P cover’s emblem on it, it looked awesome! He’s always been supported thoroughly by the people who run the Joiners – he’d put a signed poster from his E.P promo material above the bar with “Long live The Joiners” written on it.
I caught up with Seán with a beer a little before doors were about to open.
Are you looking forward to the gig? You’ve done really good promo for it!
Seán: Yeah it’s gonna be nuts, it’s sold out, which should be absolutely rammed. It’s gone really well, it all happened rather quickly I phoned Pat up one day chasing up how our sales had gone, and he was just like “It’s sold out!”, it was literally that instant.
Well I mean everything’s kinda come from The Joiners. Pat booked me to support Beans On Toast here, and after meeting Beans, I got into Strummerville, and that’s how I’ve got everything! I owe so much to this venue and to Pat, that’s why we waved the fees for tonight – they’ve been in difficulty.
Tell me a bit about that, cos that’s obviously related to your music, community and stuff like that. The Joiners is under threat, like quite a lot of local venues are. It’s great that you decided to do that.
Yeah definitely well we found out from Pat that they were having difficulty, they needed to get some money for rent and that. It was a no-brainer.
Cool. So how long did it take to record your E.P?
We did it in 3 days, which was hard, it was at The Ranch in Totton. That was good because they work really well. It was with a tight schedule, we got through it because they’re so good down there. We used it for ‘McGovernment’ as well.
What have you been up to in the months leading up to your E.P launch?
Through the summer we did all the festivals. Last we did Bestival, then South Sea. Since South Sea, we did a charity one for Amy Winehouse at The Talking Heads.
Who are your influences, for people who don’t know?
I really like Billy Bragg, Frank Turner, Jamie T, The Clash, The Jam, Sex Pistols, all kinda that!
We’re going to Lennons after this, so they’ll be playing all of that! How would you describe your music?
I’d say it was punk folk. It can be quite aggressive, but I think it’s straight to the point and I think punk folk definitely sums it up.
So growing up, have you always played music?
No, I always wanted to be a footballer, I wanted to play for QPR. I probably could play for them at the minute. I kinda got into poetry, not really reading, just writing. Then it came, I learnt the guitar, played in a few bands.
Opening the night was Rob Chapman, a.k.a Rob The Liar, who delivered a fantastic set which included particular favourites ‘Lost Keys Blues’ and ‘Poetry and Melody’, especially among friends, who belted out many of the lyrics. His style was certainly perfect for the feel of the evening and he was a great first act to have, and in fact humbly told the audience it was the best moment of his life!
Next on were 13th Floor, who although contrasted with the other artists, with a sound similar to that of Drake and Frank Ocean (they did a Frank Ocean cover), did very well for their second ever gig, and had a great audience to play for, many who again knew lots of the lyrics. I thoroughly enjoyed their set. I have to give a special mention to Brett Summers, who was announcing each act – he did a brilliant job and commented that 13th Floor were “Proof that GCSE media pays off”.
Beans on Toast followed, and was fantastic as always, with ‘Christmas at Tesco’ and his Jimmy Saville song being very well received. His comical lyrics are to the point and in fact speak many truths. The words were shouted out to ‘MDMA amazing’ with such intensity by the crowd that Beans ended up having a choir of girls climb onto the stage, to much amusement. He told the crowd that they were better at dancing than singing which I’d probably agree on, but I was definitely doing both anyway.
Last on was of course Seán and his best friend Dean accompanying, to much anticipation and excitement from everyone. A guitar that didn’t work wasn’t going to dampen spirits and as soon as it was working “Is that a fucking guitar?” yells Seán, the night was well under way. Seán belted out his songs from the heart, he has a special passion for what he portrays in his music, and managed to whip the crowd into a frenzy, especially towards the end of the set with ‘This Old Town’. This made me (and everyone around me, I’m sure) realise how much I love Southampton and its music scene, and how rubbish it’d be to lose The Joiners as a music venue. A Frank Turner cover was perfectly delivered in his ‘punk folk’ style, and closing song ‘All The Best’ went down a storm. The Joiners was successfully filled with a buzz that I’ve rarely seen before; after the finale, Seán and Dean were of course crowd surfed to the bar!
Check out Seán’s new E.P which can be bought on iTunes here. It’s well worth a listen and has had a lot of very positive feedback. Sean will be supporting Frank Turner at another sold out gig (it sold out in 90 seconds!) on 28th December, for a benefit show to raise money for the fantastic venue that is The Joiner’s Arms.
All photos are courtesy of Chelsea Amy Browbank.