By Phil Colpas
The pandemic forced many artists to look inward and embrace a different kind of music making. This is the story of Sean Robey, a 38-year-old musician performing under the name Xpëaker, and a full-time resident of Siesta Key.
Robey is a lifelong musician who had always served as a bass player for bands, but the pandemic forced him to take musical matters into his own hands. He spent the past year writing, engineering, performing, recording, mixing and mastering his first solo album at his Calle De Peru residence.
Robey’s dad was a musician, and so his childhood included the “passive absorption of a wide variety of music,” he said. “I had formal education on the trumpet through school (fifth through 12th grades), but my passion was ignited at the very beginning of high school. I witnessed my two friends playing guitar and drums together. Watching them perform absolutely blew my mind.”
Before this epiphany, Robey thought rock music was “something happening on a far-away stage, made by magicians on another planet. But all of a sudden, these people I knew were doing it right in front of me.”
He asked his friends if he could get involved, and they presented him with a challenge: If he learned to play the bass, he could join their band.
“From the moment I got home that day, I was teaching myself to play bass on my dad’s broken-down old Peavey,” Robey said. “It was my first time attempting a string instrument, and I learned to play by ear. I would turn on the radio, and jam along to all genres.”
He and his friends were about 15 years old, having a blast playing covers such as Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady.” When Robey first began playing with them, he remembers erupting in uncontrollable laughter. “Not because anything was humorous, but I don’t think my body was able to contain the joy I was feeling,” he said. “By the end of the song we were all laughing, jumping and understanding we had found our calling.”
Robey loves great storytellers. His “motivational” influences include Modest Mouse, Rancid, Everclear, Mod Sun, The Clash and Jimi Hendrix. “I’ve noticed that when I listen to music, a catchy guitar riff might receive quick attention,” Robey said, “but the songs making the longest lasting impact on me contain magnetic lyrics and great stories.”
Robey’s first album, Long Way Home by Xpëaker, is now available on all major music platforms including Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon. The album can be previewed now for free on his SoundCloud page: soundcloud.app.goo.gl/nDW9pJSSV3VJdGSL9.
Operating in a decidedly neo-punk vibe, Robey’s lyrics and atmosphere are definitely informed by the isolation of the pandemic. Some of the tracks are vaguely reminiscent of Green Day.
“Without any intention of sounding morbid, I draw significant inspiration from how impermanent life truly is,” Robey said. “I have two amazing kids that are getting older, and who always help reframe my world views.”
Robey has been in several serious bands and played more gigs than he can remember, but always as the bass player. Long Way Home is the first album he wrote, played, recorded, mixed and mastered completely by himself.
“Like all of us, I found myself feeling isolated and alone in the aftermath of the pandemic, and I began writing and recording these songs without any fellow musicians,” Robey said. “It was a totally different exercise than all the songwriting I have done in the past. On this album I am playing full band versions of the songs as intended, but when I play them live I typically play them alone acoustically, sometimes with a looper pedal for layering.”
Robey said that he hopes to bring his songs to Siesta Village this summer.
He plans to release a second album later in 2022, which should work as a companion piece to Long Way Home.