Hey Hey Hey!, So the Dingwalls in London is putting on a very interesting and not-to-be-missed evening the 20th of March with two amazing bands from the Aussie Prog/Post-Rock scene, I’m talking about COG, these guys have been on the stages since 1998, and the instrumental SLEEPMAKESWAVES, which visits to The UK for the 6th time since their debut EP album “In Today Already Walks Tomorrow” released on 2008. So far this band has released 3 studio albums “And So We Destroyed Everything” (2011), “And Then They Remixed Everything” (2013) this one as you expect is a remix of previous album from 2011, and “Love of Cartography” (2014), one EP from 2008 mentioned above, in 2012 they were nominated in the ARIA awards for ‘Best Hard Rock / Metal Album’ with “And So We Destroy Everything”, they’ve been on tour with bands such as Russian Circle, Mono, Devin Townsend, The Contortionist, Monuments, Skyharbor, to name few.
We had the pleasure to interview a member of SLEEPMAKESWAVES, Alex Wilson (bass, keyboards and electronics), check it out!
Hi Alex, thanks for your time to answer few questions for Vanguard-Online.
This is something I have to ask and I’m sure you’ve been asked this before, where does the name of the band come from?
It was the name of a project that our founding guitarist Kid was going to start that never got off the ground. When he joined the rest of us to form a new band, he brought the name with him. I think it comes from a psychology textbook originally, and nocapsnospaces was the style in the mid-2000s.
The first time and song I’ve listened of sleepmakeswaves was “One day you will teach me to let go of my fears” from the “In Today, Already Walks Tomorrow” EP a few years ago thanks to Youtube when I was listening to another post rock band from Spain, maybe you heard of them, Toundra (also a song of your last album). Well this song played on the play list and it literally blew my mind. Not long ago I read somewhere that someone used that song on a Twilight fan video (not a very big fan of that movie) What was your first impression ‘cause also this was your debut release, how did this affect the beginning of your career?
I found it both touching and funny that this very heartfelt song from us was being used for a fan tribute to something so corny. Although the video got taken down for copyright issues, it had several hundred thousand views in the end. Maybe a really small majority of the viewers got turned onto us, but 99% of the comments were variations on “omg edward/jacob is so dreamy ^_^” so I don’t think it affected our career in any great way. But stepping back, we recorded good material between 2006 and 2011, but we didn’t really know how to promote it or tour off the back of it. We were too busy with jobs and studying at that time that we didn’t realise lots of people were excited about our first release and that we could have toured in places like Europe much earlier than we eventually did.
I have heard Toundra, they are very heavy and cool!
Now this is a personal opinion, your studio albums have the peculiarity to have a quite raw sound, more like a live album rather than the typical studio sound, something that makes me feel you guys are playing in my living room! What’s different in the way you record an album?
Our last two records, Love of Cartography and Made of Breath Only were actually recorded live. Or more specifically, we’d track the songs together as a band and then overdub or tweak certain parts as we saw fit. Our producer for those records, Nick DiDia, has an authentic and old-school approach to recording and encouraged us to explore those ideas. It was really good for us to learn his way of making music and it opened up lots of creative avenues for us.
I’d describe your music, and please allow me to do so, as a geometrical piece of art, do you follow a sort of pattern when writing new material? Where all the ideas come from?
I can only speak for myself, but geometry as it can be expressed in musical compositions is really important to me. I think of harmony and rhythm as forming shapes and patterns, and a big part of the emotional impact I feel in music comes from understanding that internal geometry. Good songs can come from me starting with quite a formal, geometric idea (like Tundra’s verse polymeter of 9/8 over 4/4) and then drawing the emotion out from within that intellectual process. I think I can speak for all of us when I say it’s not hard to have ideas that could be sleepmakeswaves songs. but the challenge is in making those ideas feel fresh and full of feeling.
Do you have any musical reference that influences your sound?
I was especially influenced by all the big hitters of post-rock and post-metal when the band started. Obviously that sound has framed what kind of band sleepmakeswaves is, the types of shows we play and who listens to our records. But I’m most excited to see if and how the music that I currently listen to may subtly influence our new material – at the moment I’m really fascinated by the hardcore and extreme metal scene of the 1980s and 1990s. Being a happy music creator is not so much about what influences you but how well you can find a place to express it in your songs.
Have you ever consider adding some vocals, like screams or back voices?
We’ve done it very selectively. If you listen to our songs “…and so we destroyed everything” and “Hailstones” you’ll hear singing. Vocals are always on a case-by-case basis, but however we may integrate them we understand ourselves as an instrumental band. I can’t see that changing.
How do you see the Australian scene in this genre, what has changed since the release of your first release in 2008?
That time was a quiet patch for the instrumental scene in Australia. There had been great post-rock bands in the years before like Decoder Ring, Pivot/PVT, Laura and This is Your Captain Speaking but they were starting to wind down around that time. The past six years or so, it seems like Australia generally has got a bit more excited about post-rock again. And moreover, the style of rock that’s popular right now takes a lot of influence from electronica and art-rock so a post-rock band can co-exist more comfortably with what popular tastemakers are saying is cool.
Australian bands themselves are great and world-class. I’m not going to mention any specific Australian post-rock bands to check out as I have too many mates that I will forget to shout out. If anyone’s keen in knowing about our scene the labels Bird’s Robe Records and Art As Catharsis would be good places to start.
While Sleepmakeswaves has had some big chart and award success in Australia, I don’t think the scene will ever be as solid as it is in the Northern Hemisphere. The bands and fans who love post-rock here are as passionate as anywhere else, but there’s not the population here to sustain an indie show circuit that’s as robust as the UK, Europe or even North America. I’m excited to see what kind of post-rock/independent music scene might come out of Asia in the next 20 years.
What did you all grow up listening to and how has your musical taste evolved in the present, what are you guys up to now?
As a little boy, Mum and Dad played classic rock, pop, psych and prog from the 1960s and 1970s, which really stuck with me. I would get obsessed about listening to albums in the dark, like Sgt. Peppers. My mum would play classical on the piano and that’s the first time I can remember wanting to make music. I was 13 when I started playing guitar and bass. I was already a Metallica fanatic and would soon be fanatical about Tool, Rage Against The Machine, The Red Hot Chili Peppers. I also listened to lots of bad nu-metal from the early 2000s. By the time I ended high-school At The Drive-In, Deftones, Alexisonfire, Coheed & Cambria, Opeth and Incubus were my favourite contemporary bands. I’d also been really into 1990s grunge classics by Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Smashing Pumpkins. Around that same time I discovered Mogwai and Sigur Ros and post-rock became an obsession for a few years when sleepmakeswaves were getting started. A DIY and anti-commercial “music first” stance also really spoke to me and I loved post-rock for the way it could share that with other punk acts I loved like Sunny Day Real Estate and Fugazi.
I tend to listen to older music these days because I find the popularity meat-grinder of the music industry depressing and stressful. I also prefer knowing about “the classics” than keeping up with the latest stuff that I’m to old and uncool to get. I’ve already mentioned old hardcore and metal – this past year I’ve also enjoyed obsessing over older stuff from Steely Dan, Joanna Newsom, Stevie Wonder, Lou Reed. In terms of new albums, I like the latest one from Robyn and a cool Australian country group called All My Exes Live In Texas. My favourite “post” album recently is the self-titled from Slowdive.
Your last album was released in March 2017, are you working on new material? Any plans of a new album this year?
That’s the plan. We’ve written most of the material we need already, but there’s still some work to do making sure it’s the best it can be. Once that’s done we’ll figure out how to record it, which is a whole undertaking in itself. We like to take our time and get things right, but at the same time we’re also figuring out how we can release more music and have less time between records.
You’ve played in London 5 times in the past, how do you feel the evolution of your shows? The fan base I believe has grown since your first time in the capital.
It’s been a great place to come back to. It’s always a bit daunting because London is this big and important place. But I’ve always been pleasantly surprised by how many people show up and how excited they are. The first headline show we ever played in London was in Hackney. It was heaps of fun, but our van got robbed that night and all our merch money was stolen. Not a great way to end a tour, but it’s been much better all the other times!
This time you’re touring with COG, how’s the experience so far?
We played as the support for their reunion tour in Australia in 2016. They’re great dudes and part of the reason we’re touring with them is because the vibe was so good and easy. They were also idols of mine when I was in high-school, so co-headlining an international tour with them is real bucket-list stuff.
Is there any band in particular you’d like to tour or play with?
The one that would be the least plausible and would make me happiest would be Tool.
You’ve played in London last year at The Underworld, since you haven’t released new material, what can we expect to see and hear the next 20th of March? How would you convince our readers to buy tickets to the gig?
Simple: you get to see Cog! Also, we’ll be playing arrangements of older material that we prepared for our recent 10-year anniversary tour in Australia. We also have our touring guitarist Lachlan coming with us, and he’s a great guy with a great beard who’s worth a second viewing.
With all being said I hope I see you all at the Dingwalls in March. This is the only date in The UK so there’s no excuses to miss it, and of course Vanguard-Online will be covering the show!