Payin’ Dues: Sean Wheeler and Zander Schloss

Sean Wheeler and Zander Schloss have fine pedigrees but have hit their creative stride as a duo. They’ll be performing at the Red Rooster Festival in June and there are plans afoot for an album produced by Mark Lanegan too. “Things have a way of just popping up,” explains Sean Wheeler.

How did you first get together?

Sean Wheeler: I was working on a solo album and Zander was contributing to it. In the process of making it, Pappy & Harriet’s asked if I wanted to perform some of those songs… Pappy is a great venue in the California desert near Joshua Tree. I put a band together and called Zander, who was in New York at the time with The Circle Jerks. I didn’t think he would be into it, but he said sure. During the rehearsals for the show I realised Zander was covering the bass, lead and rhythm parts on his own, so after one show with a band we went on as a duo.

Who inspires your music?

Zander Schloss: As a guitar player who is the only one on stage supplying the music, I always refer to Delta blues players such as Robert Johnson, Big Bill Broonzy and Lead Belly. I liked the fact that Lead Belly was a crossover artist and infused country and folk into what he did. That’s what I want to do as well.

Wheeler: Folk blues, spirit blues, jump blues, Delta blues, big city blues, desert blues. King Ernest Baker was a dear friend and I miss him greatly as a man and a father figure. He always told me there was a plan for me and that plan was bigger than I might imagine. He was an example and not a preacher./o:p

Zander, you worked with Joe Strummer. How did you first meet?

Schloss: I first met Joe in London while contributing to the Sid And Nancy soundtrack. But it was my next meeting with Joe that sticks out in my memory. I had just arrived at the hotel in Almeria, Spain for the filming of [1987 film] Straight To Hell and was greeted by a spirited and affable Joe. Joe and I, along with actor Miguel Sandoval, got into a songwriting collaboration immediately for Karl the Wiener Man – played by yours truly – to play as a jingle for his hot dog business. We had a great time trading lines and laughing and came up with the song I perform in the movie, Salsa y Ketchup. We became fast friends after that./o:p

Wheeler and Schloss play the Red Rooster Festival at Euston Hall, Suffolk, June 5-7./o:p