Rolling Stone SXSW Top 3 Band Video
Self-Titled Magazine Premieres “New Age” 10″ Single
“Best Hype Band That Didn’t Disappoint: San Francisco’s Sleepy Sun topped a lot of the “best new bands to watch” lists leading up to SXSW, and they made good on the promise. Cranking out heavy, soulful pysch riffs from behind a cloud of fog, they left the crowd at Emo’s with goosebumps.”
San Francisco’s Sleepy Sun are the right band in the right place at the right time: This sextet’s atmospheric pysch-freakout rides the wave of critical acclaim directed at peers like Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes. But while their sound evokes another time (and intensely altered states of being), it’s their flair for strangeness (in the form of massive basslines, syncopated percussion, and enormous beards) that has their rabid fan base screaming “Let’s Get Weird!” during their high-energy live shows.
Elbo.ws SXSW Sampler
|11 Things You Need To Know…Tell us about the origins of the band – how you met, how you found your sound etc.:
This band was conceived under a full moon in the lovely town of Santa Cruz, California. With the forest and ocean as our back drop, we were drawn to each other as fellow musicians, friends, and lovers. Our sound began with a more straight laced rock n roll feel but soon took on more depth and heaviness, drawing from early Black Sabbath, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Can, and Creation Records, to more contemporary local acts like Comets on Fire and Mammatus. There was a lot of jamming – a lot of free flowing, heady, “where am I?” – type jamming that definitely contributed to our sonic ascension.
Your biog says you’re from the “occult influenced creative community of Santa Cruz” – please elaborate! Are you into the occult as a band? And how big is occultism in Santa Cruz?!
Santa Cruz is a community very much submersed into it’s own culture– although it’s veneer may convey a sense of murky, burned-out-hippy life, there’s a sparkling bubble kingdom if you know where to narrow your vision. Beaches are covered in Monarch butterflies for a few weeks every year, naked dancing to drums in the moonlight, rogue black metal shows under the cover of night and redwood elders, and dank caves that eventually meet the salty ocean water. It becomes very easy to ‘lose your head in the clouds’ so to speak in such a geographically rich territory. Sometimes all you want to do is paint your face with charcoal, red, and black, cruise the graveyard, scope some blasters, and check out with some durk pins. The Occult is what you make it.
And then you moved to San Fran. What made you decide to move there? Whats the current day scene like there?
We all love Santa Cruz. We really do. But if we didn’t make the move out of there, things could have easily become stagnant. There’s a circuit of about four to five venues in Santa Cruz that you can play before it’s all tapped out, and two of which are all ages. On top of that, more than half of 21+ crowd leaves for summer vacation from University, so it’s difficult to build up a following in sleepy Santa Cruz Co. San Francisco on the other hand is a city, and we hit the ground rolling and have been shoveling coal in the engine ever since. As per the SF ‘scene’, it’s really all across the board– hair metal, punk, indie, electronica, etc. are all coexisting across the peninsula. They’re all alive in their own little niche bars, and you can start to see cross-over which is where the electricity sparks.
There’s a psych-rock influence on your sound. Is the psych rock sound still alive and well in the Bay Area?
Your ‘battle cry’ is “Let’s get weird”. When and where do you use this phrase, and where did it come from?
What are your shared interests, both musical and otherwise?
Pizza, horticulture, Neil Percival Young.
There’s nothing like having your first piece of vinyl pressed. Also, playing pretty much any show put on by Folk Yeah! Productions. Opening for Rodriguez at the Great American Hall in our hometown the day we got back from tour was a dream, and Folk Yeah!’s Festival in the Forest in Big Sur was an unforgettable moment for all of us. That festival was as close as it gets to the communal musical vibe everyone assumes is going on in the Bay Area.
Sleepy Sun traveled to Vancouver, BC in January 2008 to record ‘Embrace’ with Colin Stewart. We tracked for 11 days, took off four days to rest on the island of Victoria, and then hopped back on the ferry to the Hive to mix for another four days.
What was the aim for the album? What were you hoping to achieve?
Before travelling to BC to record, much time was spent brainstorming about how to compile the songs in a way that would set a singular vibe or tone or message. In other words, we aimed to record a cohesive collection of songs, inspired by full length albums intended to be listened to from start to finish. We didn’t however go into the studio claiming outright that we were going to create a “psych-roch record”, i guess that came naturally. In the studio, There was a conscious decision to change the songs, allowing them to bloom into sonic bulbs, radically different than we had been playing them live for the past year. I suppose you could say we sought to frame these songs in their new light– we’ve certainly changed the way we play them live since the birth of ‘Embrace’.
Talk us through some of the key tracks (the inspiration / any fun stories behind them etcm unusual recording tecniques), especially future singles.
Electical-engineer Brian Tice recorded 9/10ths of the instruments on ‘Golden Artifact’ using an 8-track mixer in our living room in Santa Cruz (also known as the Dungeon, because of it’s low ceilings, low lighting, and various smells attributed to a plethora of cats, sugar gliders and human rodents). All of the band lived in house during this period, and we sat down and hashed out the entire song in a few sittings. We setup the mixer, the mics were held together with tape and cobra-whiskey bottles, and hit ‘record’. Our good friend Norman Krow mixed the original version to be placed on a compilation for the inaugural Loves in Heat Records festival. We brought along the data to Vancouver, BC and Colin Stewart worked his magic, and we re-tracked vocals and darker percussion.
After watching all the Hellraiser and all Jim Henson films in one sitting, Matt wrote the guitar verse for ‘New Age’ . Bret was currently studying in Europe, so the song (tentatively titled Cromag) bloomed into 15 minute epic sans vocals, compensated with shredding keys and hot air balloons. Once Bret returned from his overseas voyage, we started working on the track as a full band. It went through countless changes, but never sounded complete until a year and half of sitting on the back-burner (although occasional live performances existed for our own curiosity). This was the first song we attempted to record at the Hive Studios in Jan. 08′ and we ended up ripping out half of the heavy, plodding guitar tracks and replaced with sparkling acoustics.
What are your hopes for the future of the band?
To do Wayne’s World for a living.
Brian Tice (age: 23)- drums, Jack Allen(23)- bass, Rachael Williams(22)- vocals, haberdashery & interpretive dancing,
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