By: Thomas D. Mooney
We recently caught up with Sean Troyer to discuss the origins of his new side project, Westerner, an alternative-country folk venture for the Estelline guitarist. Troyer gives us some details on where both Westerner’s debut and Estelline’s sophomore records are currently.
Westerner will be playing this Saturday at the GlassyAlley Art Studio and Gallery along with Estelline frontman Kenny Harris, Stay Sane, Slow Static, and The Dry Heeves. Like Westerner on Facebook here and for more details about Friday’s show, click here.
New Slang: I think with a band so new like Westerner, people always really want to know where did it come from?
Sean Troyer: I guess, I’ve always been writing since I first picked up guitar. It just kind of came to me. I wasn’t always good or anything. You know, started out writing these really shitty punk rock songs. But, I guess it started, I started playing and Emily was up here and asked to sing with me. And then she got busy with school stuff–and she might sing occasionally in the future. But I guess it’s just always been something I’ve been working on. At the start of the year, I just tried to take it more seriously. I told myself I would have a record recorded by the end of last year and it didn’t happen. So now my goal is by my birthday. So we’re recording now, as well as the new Estelline record. And you know, I just started playing music with my friends. My friend Trent Wester and I started jamming a bit and was like “hey, my friend Daniel has a studio. We should go lay down some jams.” And he was digging it. And Jack Jones, him and I were just hanging out, just passing ideas, so I guess that’s how it happened. Like I said, I’ve always wanted to do it. I’ve always wanted to have my own project. And you know, out of Estelline, Tori does her thing, I’ve been working on mine. And the name comes from, I think it was when Amanda Shires played this last summer at the Buddy Holly Center Summer Series. It was actually the first time I had ever gone in the Buddy Holly Center and I read everything line for line. And they had like these old drawings and everything. And if you go look, they have these old yearbooks, and they’re called “The Westerner.” When I saw it, I was just like, “that’s cool. It really describes Lubbock. It could really work.” So that’s where the name came from.
NS: I guess it’s that you’ve been working on it for a while and now, finally we’re starting to see some of the fruits of the labor.
ST: Yeah. And all the songs are new from this year minus one or two. It’s all new material. I’ve just been trying to do something everyday. And just taking it very seriously. Just started working more on it and slowly all these pieces have started falling into place.
NS: You said you’ve been recording some stuff. About how soon do you think you’ll be getting some material up on Facebook or something?
ST: We have a couple of demos, but I want to get them mixed first. We’re doing it all ourselves in Daniel’s studio. It’s really some nice studio equipment. He’s been playing for forever. He’s now working towards being a producer on top of being a drummer. Trent went to South Plains for audio engineering, as did I. With the three of us, we’ll get it all recorded and then have it mixed professionally and mastered. And like I mentioned, we’re recording the new Estelline now too. It’s really a fun, creative time.
NS: So how is–I asked Tori this question as well–how is balancing the Estelline and Westerner thing working out?
ST: I don’t know. I guess it’s just is what it is. You just do it. Because, for each of us, we play a supporting role for each other. You know, Tori’s a badass and can sing harmony on anything. And for me, it’s a completely different role and I love that. I can play and do supporting harmonies [in Estelline] and then also been able to express myself with Westerner.
NS: Has there been any “I’m not going to show Kenny this, I’m going to keep this for myself” moments [laughs]?
ST: Oh, you know, that’s the funny part [laughs]. Kenny and I have written together about five songs so far. We don’t try to force anything, him especially. It’s good to just wait until it comes out. Usually what happens, I’m the one like “man, I cannot think of anything for this idea in my head.” I’ll show it to him and he’s like “I love it,” and we’ll get going. He’s such a good writer. That’s usually how it happens. If I get stumped on something that I’m not digging, I’ll ask him what he thinks about it. He’ll usually put something to it. We did this mandolin song that happened just from us learning mandolin. I don’t know, I’m not sure if that really answered your question.
NS: Yeah, I get what you’re saying. I guess–you know, Kenny has a distinct voice–has there been anything that you guys have written where you’ve gone, “this will probably fit you more than me” or vice versa?
ST: Yeah. We wrote this one together where–I can’t think of the name of it, there’s like 30 something new songs that we’re working on–anyways, we wrote it and I just liked Kenny’s voice better on it. Usually when we write together, we’re writing for Estelline. But on this song, I had written the first verse and the pre-chorus and he added the chorus and it just fit better with his voice.
NS: This goes to you saying that you’ve been writing for a while now. And most songwriters will agree, they always feel they go through that period of shit songs when they first begin. And really, I guess so many songwriters are insecure about their own writing and always questioning just how good it actually is. Do you feel that you’ve gotten to a point where you can think of yourself as a good songwriter?
ST: Man, I don’t think you’re ever there. If someone sits down and is like “oh yeah, I’m a badass,” you know their full of shit. It’s all about–or at least for me–about working out things and is a learning process. I guess like, it’s always something you can be insecure about, but I think you get to the point where you love doing this. I love playing music. I love writing music. You reach a certain point where you go, you know what, I really like doing this and I’m just going to go with it. I’m just going to throw it out there. You have to care, but at the same time, you can’t give a shit. If you dig it, cool. Come listen to it and have a good time.
NS: I know you’re a real music guy like me. A real cratedigger. Who have you been listening to as of late?
ST: I can’t get past Hank Williams. That guy was just so creative. You think about the time period that he was writing, and how musically creative he was. You know, he was really catchy. A real big deal. And you know, Neil Young and Bob Dylan. I can’t visit those guys enough. I really love the whole folk, guitar, harmonica deal. I’m not going to try and hide what my influences are. I think there’s just something so raw and real with it.