Sean Orr is a venerable force when it comes to his creative output as both a journalist and songwriter. Between his highbrow weekly Tea & Two Slices column for Scout Magazine, his monthly contributions to BeatRoute and his caustic and unpredictable stage presence as frontman for local post-punk hardcore outfit NEEDS, he has no shortage of outlets to disperse his opinions and ideas. We like to think of him as a maniacal town crier; the original underlord of Gastown.
A hop, skip and a puff away from the questionably historical steam clock, Sean Orr can be found working behind the scenes in the kitchen at L’Abattoir, washing the dishes of the patrons who come from all around the Lower Mainland to sample the restaurant’s unforgettable French cuisine with a Western flare. This month Sean Orr took some time in between eating leftover bone marrow and celebrating the holidays to help us uncover some of the stand out local acts to watch for in 2014 (See Page 5) and we caught up with him in the dish pit to find out what he does to pay the bills at his “super fancy Gastown loft.”
BeatRoute: How long have you been a dishwasher for?
Sean Orr: I dunno, like three years.
BR: You’re a smart guy, why dishwasher?
SO: I ask myself this every day. Ha ha. No, but I used to be a cook in shitty chain restaurants and stuff but I have zero skills. I’m just super fast. So at L’Abattoir I get to be around the best chefs in Canada and feel like I am somewhat important, while at the same time having the freedom to do other stuff like be in a band and write and take photos.
BR: What’s the best part about your job?
SO: Getting slammed. I love being super busy and having that feeling of pure chaos. That and they have these potato fondants that I get to snack on.
SO: Telling people that I’m a dishwasher.
BR: Do you get to listen to music while you work? If so, what kind of music do you like to work to?
SO: No, but I get to sing songs. “Living sous-vide a loca”, “Your miss en place or mine”?, “All of the plates”, “And Glasswear by the moon and the stars above”. There’s a guy named Bardia and just insert his name into songs. For example, “My girl wants to Bardi all the time”.
BR: You’re a frontman for a band. Is it hard for you to work in the back lines or do you like the juxtaposition?
SO: No, I’m sort of like a rock star.
BR: Is it important for you to keep your personal life and your day job separate?
SO: I wouldn’t be doing an interview about it if it was.
BR: What else do you do when you’re not washing dishes?
SO: I play in NEEDS. I write a column called Tea & Two Slices for Scout Magazine. I sometimes write for BeatRoute. I take photos. I made a beach. I hang out with my girlfriend Lorri and my cat Gustav in our super fancy Gastown loft. My Twitter game is tight.
BR: Do you ever get to eat really fancy food for cheap?
SO: Yeah, I took Lorri there once and ate three courses, cocktails, a bottle of wine, and they didn’t make me pay for a thing. You can see why I love it.
BR: What’s the first thing you do when you get off work?
SO: I usually go to Pourhouse and drink IPA.
BR: What are your biggest goals for 2014?
SO: I’m really just planning on coasting. I’m just going to keep coasting.
You can check out Sean’s articles in BeatRoute, read his Tea & Two Slices column at ScoutMagazine.com and you can see his band NEEDS perform on January 15 at the Electric Owl.
By Stephen Wig
Photos: Joshua Grafstein