Nestled comfortably into a private neighborhood in the polished lands of the San Fernando Valley is 37-year-old Sean Hurwitz. Newly married, and “daddy” to Monster the cat and an energetic Yorkie named Bran, Hurwitz took a moment to think of what his extracurricular activities might be outside of his busy life as a touring guitarist with Latin pop star Enrique Iglesias. “I like to go mountain biking,” he said.
His wife Tricia sweetly chimed in, “Well, gardening now, too. You can talk about how you built the planters yourself and everything.”
Originally from Israel, Hurwitz made the move to Los Angeles 13 years ago on a steadfast mission to make it big in the music industry. With the face of rock and roll ever changing, and the ways of the world continuing to divide via political and social differences, it was a lifelong love with his guitar that pushed him past the point of giving up, ultimately finding success within a cutthroat industry of rock-and-roll wannabes.
Sean Hurwitz knows how to rock, confidently toting behind him a compelling story, a strong sense of self, and a respectable dedication to his craft.
You’re an accomplished musician hailing from Israel, currently residing in Los Angeles. What was your major influence in pursuing a career in music in the United States, specifically?
Israel was going through a hard time from 2000-2004. What was known as the Second Intifada. It wasn’t a war between armies it was a war between
terrorists and any Israeli they could kill or injure. One day, as a result of a suicide bomber in Tel Aviv, I decided enough was enough. I was gonna try my luck elsewhere. Either way, I had my eye on “bigger and better” goals for a long time. So, this just pushed me to make the move.
What kinds of music were you exposed to growing up in Israel? Which genres of music, aside from rock and roll, hold a major influence on your style today?
My parents both play guitar, and I was lucky enough to always be introduced to different music in the house. Amongst the influences, I’d have to mention Tom Petty, Eric Clapton, Hendrix, Bon Jovi. Later on in my high school years, I got introduced to Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Pantera, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and so may others. Also, a very big influence was the Israeli Pop music I listened to on the radio. Yizhar Ashdot, Gidi Gov, Portrait, Mashina… a lot of bands, and lots of music! But, I must say, what I enjoyed was rock!
Every artist, musical, visual, or other, has “paid dues,” so to speak. In which ways do you feel you have paid your dues? Which nitty-gritty moments of your life can you look back on now in realization that, at the time, you had no idea you were paying your dues?
Hmm, great question. To be honest, I came here and started from nothing.
So, it was all about paying my dues; working at Guitar Center Sherman Oaks for three and a half years [and] auditioning for every band I could get an audition with. It was all a learning process. I honestly think that my most important moments came from gigs, rehearsals and tours that didn’t go well.
There are many people out there who think if you play music for a living, it’s not a real job; it’s just a hobby. And so, they don’t feel it is important to treat you as a professional working musician. Honestly, I think it’s the business side I needed to learn how to deal with, not the music. I had that going already. It was learning how to make it a profitable business. That was the challenge, and still is a challenge. I’m still learning and paying my dues.
I understand you don’t have a classical education in music. I find it’s more common of a factor among successful musicians than most people realize. In what ways might this have had you work harder, and in what ways might you consider having an advantage over theory-genius artists?
That is correct. I know some amazing musicians/artists out here in LA, and in Israel too. I don’t think I have an advantage over anyone and I don’t believe I worked “harder” though I may have worked “smarter” than some musicians out there. I’ve learned this from watching people. There is always a better way an issue could have been handled, or a more productive way a day/rehearsal/show could have been done. For me, it was really listening to people and their experiences, taking the best parts of those experiences and trying to grow as a person, as a businessman.
You might learn how to make this your business if you ask the right questions and listen to the answers.
You were touring with Smash Mouth for several years, and now you’re on the road with Enrique Iglesias. What’s it like going from playing in an internationally recognized pop punk band to an internationally recognized Latin pop star’s band?
I must say that it has been a welcomed challenge and an honor to be able to play such different styles of music. In that way, I feel like Smash Mouth and Enrique Iglesias are very different. With one, it is more rock/punk/ska, and with the other it is a more polished Latin Pop vibe where I get to play Flamenco and smooth rock solos. It’s nice to be able to do both. What next? Who knows. Maybe I’ll pick up Fusion and start playing with Dave Weckl, yet another musical genius and influence from my teen years.
Tell me about your involvements with “SoBar Jerusalem” and “The Project Matters.” I understand you are incredibly passionate about both.
I wish I could be more involved, and thank you for bringing them up. “SoBar Jerusalem” is located in Jerusalem, and “The Project Matters” is located in New Jersey. Being on the west coast, there’s an unfortunate limit to my involvement with those two.
In general, when I was younger, I was blessed to have the support of my family AND other organizations (similar to these two) throughout my teen years in Jerusalem.
They helped me make music; they helped me make good choices. If I can give back to any organization that does that for teens and music lovers, I am down to do it!
I read some of your tour advice on ThatsMyGig.com. Your last bit of advice is to “always be the pro!” Did you happen to learn that the hard way, or would you say that it is in your character to know better?
I’d say I’ve learned it from other people I’ve met in my life and from personal experience.
When I say other people, I mean other people in a verity of other businesses.
Remember, music, if you want it as a career, is no different than any other profession. You have to put in the time, pay your dues, and when it comes down to it, you need to make a living from it. It needs to pay your bills. Just like any other entrepreneur trying to make a business out of nothing. So I’ve learned it from many different books, lectures, people I’ve met, [and] family members.
What’s next for you in 2017?
That is a great question! I wish I knew the answer. I’ll be touring a lot with Enrique Iglesias (can’t give out details on that just yet), taking care of my new home in LA, and doing my best to make my wife as happy as she can be. I’m working on some music projects with a few people. I’m also working on some ventures with other investors. So, the sky’s the limit as far as what might happen in 2017. I’m open.
In his spare time, Hurwitz loves chatting with fans and encourages those interested in connecting to reach out to him through his official website. Follow him on Instagram @seanhmusic, and keep an eye out for his upcoming dates on the road with Enrique Iglesias.
Photos: Orlin Nikolov/Kan HDL/Meredith Gillhespy