Sean Danielsen

On this date in 1982, Sean Danielsen was born in California. He began performing as lead guitarist and vocalist with Smile Empty Soul, an alternative rock band affiliated with Lava Records, in 1998, when he was still a high school student. Danielsen is the band’s primary songwriter. Smile Empty Soul released their popular self-titled album in 2003. Their other albums include “Anxiety” (2005), “Vultures” (2006), and “Consciousness” (2009). Their song “Who I Am” appeared on the “Spiderman 2” (2004) soundtrack.

Smile Empty Soul is a decidedly freethought band. “Religion is just such a big bad part of my life that it’s going to come out [in my music],” Danielsen explained to journalist Jeff Nall, who wrote about Smile Empty Soul, Bad Religion, Greg Graffin and Ani DiFranco in the October 2004 issue of Freethought Today. The song “Every Sunday” on their first album, “Smile Empty Soul” (2003), contains the lyrics, “I don’t want your religions,” and the video for their song “Nowhere Kids” tackles the issue of sexual abuse by priests.

Danielsen’s devoutly religious mother sent him to live at a Christian commune in an abandoned summer camp in Maine for three years, beginning when he was only 7. “My mom lets religion rule her life and I feel religion is a kind of safety blanket. If you’re afraid, you cling onto religion, and I just don’t want to be like that,” Danielsen said in a June 25, 2003 interview with MTV.

In an Oct. 1, 2003 interview with, Danielsen said that his mother “was blown away by how much the album attacks her beliefs. She just couldn’t understand it at first. I just had to explain to her that this is how I believe, that I have a whole different set than hers and this is how I deal with them.”

Photo by Jax 0677 under CC 4.0

* The number of deaths attributable to religion in the quote below is in dispute. One example is here regarding Christianity.

Freedom From Religion Foundation