Channeling ‘90s rock and punk, Sean Nolan and the Heartmakers have been pursuing their own brand of dynamic pop-punk since forming in 2015. Hailing from Brooklynn, the last few years have seen the group gracing countless stages across their home borough and Manhattan with their fast-paced, energetic tunes. With years of grinding culminating in the band’s newest record, The Machineries of Joy (May 13th, 2020, Heartmaker Records) – self-identified as their best work to date – the NYC quintet was hoping the new record would propel them into ever-higher levels of mercurial, music-industry ‘success.’ Then a pandemic hit, and we all know the dreary, soul-crushing tale which has ensued.
But, Sean Nolan and the Heartmakers are nothing if not resourceful, industrious, and committed to creating art and expressing one’s innermost self. In this Guest Blog feature, Sean takes readers on a story of perseverance as he continues to push himself to create through setbacks, self-doubt, pandemics, and the dreaded task of replacing a drummer. Good luck, man.
Get your pop-punk pulses pumping and follow Sean as he embodies the creative struggle of countless artists around the world.
Quitting is Quiet by Sean Nolan:
“At some point along the way we’ve been given this idea that to quit means to throw open a door, void ourselves of our grief in the presence of our superiors, stomp our way out, and never return. But I’m not so sure that’s the way it tends to go. Sometimes, sure. More often than not I think the desire to quit comes like something timid, something lurking just outside the door, whispering things like, “Well, that’s it, then.” I’m not talking about leaving a job. Not really. I’m talking about those dreams that swell up inside us when we’re young, those things that come to define us as we grow, and sometimes die their slow deaths in the backs of our minds while we choose those ‘responsible’ things we are encouraged to choose.
“I remember standing in the headlights of my mother’s minivan in the dark of the early morning, playing the air guitar and dreaming of a stage as she waited patiently for me to deliver the last of the newspapers. I’d just finished making my case for an electric guitar. I was twelve years old and my father didn’t want me ‘jamming with my friends.’ Not long after, I was doing just that.”
“I’d believed, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if I had that guitar, I’d make it. This was what I was meant to do, who I was meant to be.”
“In the summer of 2019, I was still more or less the same kid, dreaming of a stage. And while I’d experienced my fair share of setbacks and frustrations, not much had changed. ‘No one will listen. No one cares,’ he’d said. I saw him clearly, the one who’d been lurking around the corner of every open door, whispering. He wasn’t so much hiding around the corner as he was doing his best to block the doorway. ‘You know, playing the guitar and making records for yourself isn’t giving up,’ he’d said, clicking his long nails against the doorframe, waiting for some reaction, watching as I pretended not to hear. ‘But the odds are pretty slim this thing could ever come close to what you’re thinking.’”
“Sitting there, restringing my acoustic guitar, I’d known there was something to what he’d been saying. Something had changed. Yet, the dream of an audience, recognition, bright lights; these were the things that had kept me moving over the years. It was like that old question: If a tree falls in the woods and there’s no one around to hear it… Is the record any good at all? I’d thought, shaking it from my head, watching from the corner of my eye as the creature in the doorway slunk away, defeated. Whatever it takes, I’d thought as I sat there tuning my guitar. We’d just finished recording The Machineries of Joy and we were excited. To date it had been, in our opinion, our best so far. Strumming my guitar, I’d chosen, once again, to believe in it.”
“‘Odds aren’t so good,’ he says, on the couch beside me as I type this now, the weight of his bulk causing the frame of the couch to scream in protest. ‘You really think live music will come back?’ Ignoring him, I type, knowing this may not be what they’re looking for in a blog, but also knowing it’s really the only way I know to do it. I’m supposed to be writing more about the record, maybe about how we’d recorded it or how it’s been received. He’s leaning over my shoulder, now, hovering, reading as I type. Leaning back, feigning calm, he goes for the big guns, ‘Can’t believe you guys need to find a drummer, again.’”
“‘Shut the fuck up,’ I say, smiling as he, crestfallen, disappears.”