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Sean Robertson may not be the most extroverted man in the world, but he still has a lot to say. To further his personal and musical vision, he created the Stanley Lucas Revolution, a conceptual solo project based on a Bowie-esque alter ego. The Stanley Lucas persona fuels his fractured-yet-meticulous self-recorded compositions, which sound like the work of the bastard child of Gary Wilson and Will Oldham. Robertson has battled loneliness, drugs and multiple incarcerations and arrived at a place where he has to answer to no one else musically, and that’s the way he likes it. “I feel like I am going to die any day now,” he says. “That’s what the Stanley Lucas Revolution is: Will I beat the clock and deliver my message before my body expires?” Luckily, he has decided to provide us a glimpse into his insular world before it vanishes forever.
OC Weekly: You have a distinctive sound and vibe. How and when did you start playing music?
Sean Robertson: When I hit puberty, I was into sex, drugs, and rock & roll. I started playing guitar and was in a high-school band. I was the singer, even though I couldn’t sing, because I sucked less than everyone else in the band. These past 10 years, I’ve learned how to play music by myself.
What is your process for constructing a song? How do you record each part?
Primarily, I will come up with songs with the aid of the looping machine, and then add something on top of it. Once you start layering instruments, eventually a song will reveal itself. It’s like an abstract painting—you just throw some splotches on the canvas and sit back and look at it. I’m a song maker rather than a songwriter.
At first, you wanted your Stanley Lucas Revolution persona to be secretive and studio-based. Why did you decide to start performing onstage?
I’m a very private, solo type of person. I don’t like to spend that much time with other human beings. Sometimes, I think I am going to dread playing live, but I always enjoy it. I’m not playing any of the backing tracks that I’ve prerecorded—I build everything live on the fly. Most artists have a very personal relationship with their art. It’s like marriage therapy in front of an audience.
Why do you obscure your face in almost all your photographs on MySpace?
I prefer blurry pictures because image has cheapened art. Unfortunately, your band are as good as how attractive the members are.
Well, you do look like Justin Bieber.
Hey! Don’t knock the Bieber.
Writer Kim Conlan wrote a fictitious story about you escaping a mental institution. Do you think some of the piece holds any truth?
I endorse that character. I was a heavy drug user, a junkie. I’ve been in hospitals, jails. I’ve overdosed and been arrested. I’ve had guns held to my head while trying to get drugs on the street. Those days are long behind me. I physically couldn’t shoot drugs anymore—I ran out of veins. Addiction is a terrible thing, and some people don’t make it out alive.
Your song “We Still Love Them” has a very cynical stance on the corporate world. Do you have much experience in that arena?
Have I worked in a corporation? No. Corporate America is one of the first victims between the relationship of the left- and right-wings. Bankers were getting rich on the backs of hardworking Americans and getting tax breaks for outsourcing all the jobs to China. The middle class is constantly being eroded in this country, and it’s unfortunate.
What inspires you other than music?
Living. Television inspires me, but I know it’s mind-numbing. And politics. Education is so jacked-up that we have so many stupid people. America is rapidly becoming the movies Idiocracy and Wall-E combined.
Stanley Lucas Revolution performs with BLOK, Cosmodelion and Canvas at Detroit Bar, 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-0600; www.detroitbar.com. Mon., 9 p.m. Free. 21+.
Hey, Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, contact info, high-res photos and impending show dates for possible review to: Locals Only, OC Weekly, 2975 Red Hill Ave., Ste 150, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Or e-mail your link to: email@example.com.
This column appeared in print as "We All Want to Change the World."