McGraw hightailed it to Los Angeles after high school with rock star dreams and a country sensibility, but it soon became evident Nashville was where McGraw belonged. Wearing out records by Dwight Yoakam and Steve Earle, and "digging through stacks of junk at the Pasadena flea market looking for old Buck Owens and Johnny Cash on vinyl," he developed his own unique hard-core hillbilly sound.
His van back in LA got only two AM radio stations, classic country and R&B, "So besides being a little too familiar with some old Cat Stevens songs, I got a heavy dose of Vern Gosdin long after he was happening, not to mention the Chi-lites and the Stylistics." It soon became evident that Nashville was where McGraw belonged, so after a two-week trip and a couple nights at The Bluebird Café, McGraw made the move to Music City and hit the ground running. Despite some disappointments, McGraw always found a way to pay the bills with music: impersonating Glenn Frye in an Eagles tribute band, taking sideman gigs with Dean Miller and Steve Holy, doing session work and continuing to write songs.
This "whatever it takes" mentality stands front and center in his music, and it's what eventually got him his chance at Stagecoach, where McGraw began to gain traction on the national stage. His songs reflect the hurdles and highs of a musician's existence with gritty realism and good fun. For Sean Patrick McGraw, the honky tonk life is the only life: "I never gave myself a plan B," he says. "I never decided to grow up. I never got anything the easy way, and I'm proud of that."