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Interview: Sean Nelson of 'Nelson Sings Nilsson' and Harvey Danger

Sean Nelson/Photo by Ryan Schierling
Sean Nelson/Photo by Ryan Schierling
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When Sean Nelson takes the stage in Largo at the Coronet's Little Room this weekend, the majority of his song choices will come from the Harry Nilsson songbook—from which he painstakingly selected 15 tracks for his unreleased album, Nelson Sings Nilsson. Although the record is still in search of a label, those in search of a great live show need look no further. Nelson has crafted a fresh and fitting look back to a talented man who was ahead of his time. Plus, it's not hard to imagine that if Nilsson were alive today, he'd probably be playing at Largo.

In addition to the Nilsson project, you may also know Nelson from the band Harvey Danger (best known for "Flagpole Sitta"), as the co-owner of Barsuk Records, or from his work as a journalist, screenwriter and actor. LAist chatted with Nelson last Sunday from his home in Seattle, during which he candidly spoke about Nilsson, Largo, Harvey Danger and Proustian minefields.

LAist: When did you first discover Harry Nilsson's music?

Sean Nelson: Like many other people, I sort of got to know his music after hearing "Everybody's Talkin'" in Midnight Cowboy. But the main way I came to know about him was through the Monkees. I was obsessively interested in the Monkees when I was in junior high and high school. In fact, I wore a Monkees t-shirt to the first day of high school and was roundly destroyed for it.

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So I knew about him through the Monkees because he wrote songs for them, then I discovered that he was also an associate of the Beatles, who I was obviously also obsessively interested in. I really didn't know the full extent of him until they started reissuing his solo records right around the time my band entered a weird long hiatus mode. I had started playing with a band called the Long Winters and was looking for something new to do on my own—and Nilsson's music really struck a chord.