Growing Solo

Bon Iver drummer Sean Carey releases solo album on Jagjaguwar

Katie Venit

Eau Claire resident Sean Carey will release his first solo album All We Grow on August 24 through Bloomington, Indiana-based record label Jagjaguwar. Carey attended UWEC before settling in town.

Sean Carey didn’t mean to make an album. It just sort of … happened, as things do. He was minding his own business, touring and playing drums with Bon Iver, and ideas would just pop into his head. “I needed some sort of creative outlet because I was every day playing someone else’s music – which is great, I loved it, and I like playing that support role – but there was a certain creative side of me that wasn’t satisfied.”

    In June 2008, during a break in the touring schedule, Carey called up his friend Jaime Hanson on a free afternoon and asked if he could come over and record some ideas. And so All We Grow took root, cultivating whenever Carey had time in his touring schedule to lay down tracks. When on the road again, Carey would get some more ideas, and when back in town he’d hack away at getting those ideas recorded. Friends stepped in to help with woodwinds, guitar, viola, and some of the other instruments that fill out this lovely orchestral album.

“It was very slow and patient and really relaxed, which helped, and I think it helped that I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with it. That was cool because there was no pressure; I could experiment and do what I want, and finally it got to the point when I knew I wanted toshare it with people.”

Luckily for us, he’s sharing this album with the world. One of the tracks, In the Dirt, has already been featured on NPR’s All Songs Considered. Although some songs may be even better, In the Dirt embodies many of the most appealing aspects of the album; its prominent rhythm carries playful melodies, asynchronous harmonies, and extraordinary vocals. The jazzy songs include wonderfully spontaneous and unexpected improvisations – not surprising considering Carey got his degree in classical performance at UWEC, where he fell in love with the rhythmic pulse of many of the composers he studied.

He fused jazz’s improv with the traditional structure of chorus and verse, and mixed that with the rhythm of classical percussion minimalism. Jazz influenced his composition process, too. “I’m a believer that whatever comes out first is usually the best. Not always, but usually,” he said. Rather than seeming disjointed, each song sounds like a mad experiment gone awfully right.

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