Kind of like his dad did after he was born, Sean Lennon took a long time off between albums. Eight years passed between the release of Sean's debut, "Into the Sun," and his new CD, "Friendly Fire."

Unlike John, though, the 31-year-old son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono says he didn't just spend the time watching the wheels go round.

"I definitely had other things going on," Sean said, referring to work in film, visual art and other music projects.

"There's an impression I made one record and I've been sitting around ever since, and that's not true at all. My life can't be measured in records."

False impressions seemed to be the theme of a phone interview with Sean last week from New York. Several times the words "public perception" came up with a snide air -- not surprising for a kid who has been in the public eye since day one, especially since that day his father was murdered in 1980.

Among the misconceptions that Sean wanted to clear up: that he didn't enjoy the go-round for his 1998 debut, which earned favorable press but sold poorly and resulted in some awkward live shows (largely chalked up to his inexperience at age 22 or 23).

"I'm really proud of that record and got to do a lot of really cool things" to promote it, he said. "Like touring with Sonic Youth and the Beasties and getting to play the Tibetan Freedom Concerts. That was an awesome time of my life."

Perhaps the biggest myth he wanted to dispel, though, was the idea that he worries about being seen primarily as his father's son.

"Into the Sun" was filled with electronic beats and arty indie-pop flavor that helped Sean avoid charges of riding his father's coattails, unlike his older half-brother, Julian. "Friendly Fire" is a little more Beatlesque but still has many distinguishable traits, especially its personal themes (about a bad breakup and a friend's death) and the CD's accompanying DVD film (essentially one long music video for the album).

"I don't try to not sound like my father's son," Sean said. "A lot of people think I've been searching for my identity, but it was them who were probably looking for it. I've never had doubts or been uncomfortable with myself as a songwriter or musician."

So how much does his father influence him musically?

"I'd say I'm somewhere between the Sex Pistols, who were not really influenced by the Beatles, and Oasis, a complete copy," he said.

He believes he's actually more influenced as a musician by his mom than his dad. He started recording and performing with Ono's music projects at a young age and never really got to see his dad in a musical role.

"My mom's the one who I grew up [with,] sleeping on the carpet of her recording studios," he said. "That's where I learned everything about mixing and writing and making music."

In a separate interview, Ono played the part of the proud mom -- which, in the case of "Friendly Fire," is not such an easy thing to do. Songs like "Dead Meat" and "Parachutes" are full of dark, painful lyrics.

"When I listen to his work, I try to take it as an artist and not a mother," Ono said.

She didn't think much of the eight-year wait for the album: "That's what I like about him. He's very conscientious. He didn't say, 'OK, I released one album and so I'd better release another one right away.' He took his time and did it when it was right."

Personal healing also ate up some of those eight years. Sean's life was marred by the death of close friend Max Leroy in a driving accident in 2005. Not long before that, Lennon found out that Leroy had had an affair with his girlfriend, fellow rock-legend-offspring Bijou Phillips. You see where the dark themes come from.

A singer/songwriter herself, Phillips actually performs on "Friendly Fire" and appears in the accompanying DVD.

"I wouldn't say there are no hard feelings," Sean said, "but I try to move beyond that stuff."

In fact, Phillips is one of two ex-girlfriends on the album: Yuka Honda, co-leader of the Japanese-American trip-hop band Cibo Matto (with whom Sean toured), also performs in Sean's band.

"I think friends and family are precious," Lennon explained. "If you ever get to a point where you love somebody, you'd be stupid to lose them from your life."

That's one perception, it seems, we don't have wrong: Sean is one sweet, lovable kid.