With a recent single ("Crave") that has premiered on Brooklyn Vegan and a 5th studio album due out June 9th (Private Tales), Sleepy Sun is a band you do not want to miss out on. With their "monk-like melodies" and "riffs that ring out in the distance" this band gives off a psychedelic feel that makes you feel like you're floating on clouds. The band formed in Santa Cruz, CA (now based in San Francisco) is made up of vocalist Bret Constantino, guitarists Matt Holliman and Evan Reiss, and drummer Brian Tice. Lucky for me, I was able to catch up with Evan and Matt for a quick Q & A to ask about their upcoming album, Private Tales, working with awesome female vocals (Kathryn Calder and Hannah Moriah), and their favorite bits and pieces of being amazing artists...
NICOLETTE: Hey guys! Congrats on the upcoming release of your fifth studio album! Let's just jump right into it, shall we? What is your favorite track off of Private Tales?
EVAN REISS: My favorite track off of PT is “Crave.” Visceral guitars, Italian church bells, and a marimba. What more could one ask for?
MATT HOLLIMAN: It’s difficult to choose, but whenever I listen to “When The Morning Comes” I get a distinct visual representation of the song, both connected to Bret’s lyrical content and how the song originated. There’s a few tracks on this album that really paint vivid pictures, and they tend to be hazy enough to allow for multiple interpretations depending on what lens you’re looking through.
N: What was the inspiration for the "thorny hooks and chaotic thunderclaps" that is your newest single, "Crave"? (It is AWESOME by the way!)
E: For me, Crave was the “missing piece of the puzzle” that came to be Private Tales. It’s what we needed to close this chapter. Also, Birthday Party and Bad Seeds.
M: The marimba completely makes this track for me. This is another element immediately conjures up images when I hear them lurking into the track.
N: Any fun before show rituals that get you pumped up for your set?
E: We try to hug it out and intone into each other's faces. Put on a bolo tie and get on the level.
N: Any plans for a longer tour once the LP release? If so, what location are you most excited about visiting?
E: We’ll be touring in the U.S. and Canada during the months of July and August. We are visiting places like Vancouver, BC and Austin, TX. Both cities have become second homes to the band. We’re lucky to have made some very close buds throughout our years of traveling and I’m looking forward to visiting them as well as eating queso and poutine. (Uh, yum and so jealous! -N)
N: Private Tales is your 5th full length album, that’s wildly impressive. What about this album is different than the others?
E: The writing and recording process was different this time around. It spanned over the course of two years whilst members of the band had migrated away from the Bay Area. I’m proud we were able to pull off a cohesive record considering the circumstances.
M: There was quite a bit of distanced writing, whereas in the past we typically worked things out in our rehearsal studio, over and over. We eventually came full circle to hashing things out in our studio once we could get everyone together, but laid the foundation with countless demos, re-demoing, and trying to new approaches over our various locations.
N: Reiss has said that he “likes music that gives [you] an opportunity to breathe,” I can certainly attest that your music gives me a moment to breathe. What’s a band/song that has influenced you and given you an opportunity to breathe?
E: Neil Young - Cortez The Killer
M: Fripp & Eno - (No Pussyfooting)
N: During the recording sessions you worked with Kathryn Calder and Hannah Moriah, what was that like? What did their voices bring to the table for the songs? They both have incredible voices, it added a brilliant dynamic to your sound.
E: We’re very lucky to have worked with those gals on the album. They brought an energy and feel to the songs that cannot be underestimated or ignored. It’s really fun to bring collaborators into the studio - especially when they are good pals with amazing voices and pro songwriting abilities. Hannah is playing in the live band right now and that has been a special treat for me. 4-part harmonies for the win. Kathryn is in New Pornographers. She is Colin’s (our producer/engineer/longtime friend) wife. She rips very hard, as well.
N: What does the rest of 2017 have in store for Sleepy Sun?
E: Support the record as much as we can with live performances. Write the next one.
M: Getting in the van, hitting all the favorite trucker stops, and morning breakfast haunts.
N: I know the recording process was a lengthy course of two years via home recordings, emails, etc., how did you keep the inspiration alive?
E: For better or for worse, the band is something I believe in...deeply. We’ve tried our best to not let life get in the way of making music with each other. At the same time, we respect each other’s personal boundaries and understand that Sleepy Sun isn't everything (i.e. we all need to make a living... and lord knows, it's not from this band.) The work can be tedious and trying, at times. But the final product of being able to record and play music with my friends is well worth it.
M: It wasn’t so much inspiration as just something we had to do. Oftentimes Evan and I would get together to demo tracks that would set off a chain reaction of writing, and we’d just try to keep one-upping ourselves. We’d get a vocal melody from Bret here, some drums from Brian there, and then it would kick things off into another direction, and we’d either try to improve, or scrap things down to the greatest bits, and build them back up again. The limitations we faced forced us to figure out a new way to write together.
N: What inspired the album artwork for “Private Tales”?
E: Koak!!!!! She’s an incredible artist that we’ve known and worked with since our Santa Cruz days. Her stuff is beautiful and ominous - a perfect pairing for the PT collection.
N: Who do you aspire to work with in the future? Any wishful-collabs?
E: There are a crap ton of talented bay-area folks that blow my mind on a daily basis. Once and Future Band, Heron Oblivion, and Matt Baldwin are just a few examples of peeps that I’d like to throw down with.
N: I know that this record in particular was the most difficult to make, how come? It was mentioned it was mainly for logistical reasons, but could you elaborate?
E: We thought we had the record done after the first year of writing and two-week recording session but it turns out we didn’t. At first glance, that was pretty upsetting. So we went back and wrote a bunch of tunes over the course of another year and recorded again. At that point, we had more than enough jams for an LP (too many.) In fact, we had to cut some of my favorite songs from the album just because they didn’t fit into the grand scheme of ‘PT.’ I hope they will surface someday.
N: If you could switch instruments for a day and experiment with a new sound, what would you try?
E: Pedal steel.
M: At the end of the day, a solid drummer is where it’s at. You don’t have to be super flashy or technical by any stretch of the imagination, but you can turn a song on it’s head with some interesting percussion.
N: Concert Updater was created by artists for artists to help everyone get their art into the world, how does it feel knowing your music inspires others?
E: Feels good. Music inspires me. If someone out there picks up a guitar because of something that I played, then I’m a happy camper. Inside an infinite circle of creative stimuli and inspiration is where I want to be.
Well, there ya have it. Not only are they amazing musicians they're pretty dope guys too. Evan said it best; "music inspires...inside an infinite circle of creative stimuli and inspiration is where" we want to be. This world is a weird place, but it keeps on turning because of music, love, and creativity. This band is scoring a 10/10 in all three categories in my book. Don't miss out and look for your city on their upcoming summer tour and check out our incredible Concert Updater photographer Samuel Ware's gallery of Sleepy Sun from the Hi Hat LA on 5/27 here.
Cheers to Sleepy Sun and we cannot wait for Private Tales due out June 9th on Dine Alone Records! Congrats, gents!