Sean Ray Koos
An exclusive interview with the newest member of The Blackhearts - Sean Ray Koos.
Where and when were you born?
SK: Hawthorne, California in the heart of Chicano, Los Angeles on March 13, 1961. For all the birthday well-wishers, it was a Friday.
What kind of upbringing did you have?
SK: We were lower middle class. My parents didn't have a lot of money. I was brought up with my real mother and my stepfather. My real father was a musician. He was never around. He was gone when I was born. He played most of his life on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. He was a jazz trumpet player.
When did you first get interested in music?
SK: My mom started me off with piano lessons at age four. Then I studied classical. I'm a certified teacher. As I was growing up I was digging on stuff like The Partridge Family and what have you. Then I was over at a friend's house one day, and he put on Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd. WOW!!! That was it! I was gone, man -- done.
When did you get your first big break?
SK: I don't know if I've gotten my first big break yet. Actually I've always been real lucky. Music has been good to me. I've always been able to make a living doing it, from age 15 on up. I play multiple instruments - bass, keyboards, and guitar. Plus I sing. Music has always worked well for me. Playing with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts is a really big thing in my life. This is the biggest thing that has happened in my career so far.
How did you hook up with The Blackhearts?
SK: It was by chance. I was in a club one day when Tony Bruno was playing a solo acoustic thing. I had known him previously from some recording sessions and he walked up to me and said, "You wanna audition for Joan Jett? It's in two days." He gave me a tape that night and I said, "Yeah, I'm into it."
What was your first experience like playing with The Blackhearts on stage?
SK: It was amazing! I remember the first show -- it was the Mia Zapata Benefit show in Portland, Oregon at La Luna. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts has always been one of my favorite bands. I remember years ago seeing her open up for The Who at a stadium. I was in the back watching the band through binoculars. Even back then, I was going, "God, if I could just be in a band like that." They have the right kind of tunes for me and playing with the band is just a rush. It's amazing being in one of my favorite bands. Joan and the rest of the band are totally cool, and very easy to work with. I'm really pleased with everyone in the organization -- it's fabulous.
Who are some of your influences?
SK: I've got a lot of influences. Everything from Frank Zappa to Tom Petty. Bob Mould from Husker Du is my favorite band ever along with his new band, Sugar. I love bands like Fugazi. And I don't want to forget to mention Led Zeppelin as one of my all-time favorite bands.
Even though you've been in the band for a short period of time, what has been your most memorable moment on stage with The Blackhearts?
SK: In Australia, my amp caught on fire. I heard some weird tunes coming out of it during our set. I turned around and my amp was burning. I couldn't even see Thommy [Price - drummer] -- there was just a cloud of smoke! That's been my most memorable moment so far.
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
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