Facetime: Sean ‘Pellet’ Pelletier: managing an ‘American treasure’

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Lewiston native Sean “Pellet” Pelletier is fighting to make one of his favorite musicians — ’70s rocker Bobby Liebling of the band Pentagram — well known again. So he helped make a movie about Liebling’s fight against drugs and obscurity to get back on the stage. In the process, Pelletier’s own work as Liebling’s manager found its way to the screen in the new documentary “Last Days Here.”

Name: Sean Pelletier. But people call me “Pellet.” I used to hate it until I got to WRBC radio at Bates, then I needed a handle. My dad used to have one. He was “Short Swing” on the CB radio when I was growing up. It was this skiing technique that he taught at Lost Valley. Now that I think about it, it makes him sound like he’s short in the pants. I guess the same way “Pellet” does, huh? I hope my kids are better at picking nicknames.

Age: The Big Four-Oh, No

Hometown: Lewiston

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Single, relationship or married? Single, but eating for two.

Children? Count Chocula, as seen on the silver screen, and Sparrow. Yes, they are cats, and, yes, I’m crazy.

How did you meet Bobby Liebling, the focus of the your film”Last Days Here?” I was an archaeologist of sorts for an indie record label out of Philly called Relapse. Driven by my love for his music, I tracked him down one old junkie and/or bootlegger at a time. I only introduced myself to people as a music journalist from Japan. I wasn’t lying. If people think there’s money attached, they guard their secrets. I didn’t want to risk not finding him. 

How did you know about his band Pentagram? You know “Where’s the Blimp?” I grew up on WBLM, WTOS, even WIGY (Wiggy the Wonderdog was in Maine’s Almost-Stars KATAHDIN!) 94 Rocks — remember that flash-in-the-pan station? I was conditioned to find and love this band. I miss AOR (album-oriented) radio.

What makes Liebling’s music so special? Songwriting. Songwriting delivered from the perspective of a king with the feel of the street. He understood the blues. That’s one thing that’s missing from most of today’s Clear Channel broadcast hard rock. He’s an American treasure.

What’s his community of fans like? Over his 40-year career, Bobby’s body of songs spans the glamour, soul and celebration of early hard rock into the most disenfranchised, desperate, down-tuned doom downers. His contemporary viability is due to an appeal to a wide range of classic rock and heavy metal fans from all walks of life.

What gave you enough faith in the man to take on the role of manager? It wasn’t planned. I had merely wanted to help put his early music in the record books. A few years into it, after he fully trusted me, I realized that I may be able to help him make a new album. It’s like waking up one day and realizing that you have a girlfriend whether you were looking for one or not. 

How did “Last Days Here” come about? My other favorite band at the time was here from Finland and playing a rare U.S. gig outside Philly. It was on my birthday in 2005. I was too into the set to pay attention to the hippie-looking guy who was telling me he wanted to make a film about Bobby. I figured he was another dude trying to take advantage of the guy. It wasn’t until four months later that he saw me again and explained that he had edited the film “Rock School” and was legit.

The film has gotten some critical notice and played some prestigious festivals, including South By Southwest. Have you traveled with the film? Although I’ve been asked to appear, I’ve only gone to SXSW in Texas and the Independent Film Festival Boston, so far (where it won the Grand Jury Prize!). Sundance Selects, which bought the film, tell me that they want to fly me around to promote it.

What did you learn about drugs from watching Bobby Liebling? I learned that not all druggies burn out or fade away. All is not always lost either, but I learned that in lock-up in the Maine Youth Center as a teen. That lesson has been one of my main motivators during this exodus.

What’s been the best part of this journey? The only thing better than discovering awesome music is sharing it. I’ve bonded with wonderful people from around the world through song. I’m the richest man alive.

What’s next for you? I want to turn you on to some great music that you can’t live without! I’ve got a book deal on the table that I may take on. I’ll also phase out my record label job and get more into management. I have to do that in order to survive in this evolving business.

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