It’s reassuring waiting at the brink of uncertainty with an ace in the hole.
Sleeping With Sirens are positioned that very way, embarking on an extensive world tour amidst a new album right around the corner, hyping up their release and promoting themselves worldwide simultaneously.
The group that began on the forefront of the metalcore scene has transformed their sound into a blooming arena rock band through their last two albums, highlighted by lead singer Kellin Quinn’s unmistakable tenor leggerio vocal talents and gripping sonic soundscapes, rooted in heavy guitar riffs.
After 2013’s Feel, which solidified their rock identity, and the departure of rhythm guitarist Jesse Lawson in October of that year, Sleeping With Sirens took some time in 2014 to regroup and record new material.
They replaced Lawson with Nick Martin, rhythm guitarist formerly of D.R.U.G.S. (Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows), and worked with producer John Feldmann, renowned for working with bands like The Used and All Time Low, on their upcoming album that is due out in 2015.
With a new outlook and new faces, Sleeping With Sirens are ready to set trends and turn heads like their ventures into acoustic music and vocal approaches did before.
During preparations for the first leg of their world tour, I spoke with lead guitarist Jack Fowler about Sleeping With Sirens’ new album, its recording sessions, and what fans can expect from the band’s upcoming performances.
What were Sleeping With Sirens busy with this past summer?
Well we did five or six days one week of Warped Tour, and most of the time we’ve just been preparing to get this new record done and out. It’s been taking nine or 10 months off just getting everything ready and prepared to be released.
We didn’t do much last summer but just write, write, write and do a few days of Warped Tour.
In August this year, the band left Rise Records. Was there any reasoning behind not re-signing with the label?
There was nothing behind the decision to leave the label. We just fulfilled our contract and us as musicians wanted to fund our own record and put it out ourselves with the money we’ve made from touring.
Not necessarily saying we’re going to put it out ourselves now, but I’m saying that back then we didn’t want to find a new label. We were ready to be off the label and take everything that we deserved. Labels do take a lot sometimes.
Sleeping With Sirens posted a studio update video featuring a clip of new music that sounds familiar to early recordings, but contrasted 2013’s Feel, an album that received mixed responses from fans. How do you and the band strike a balance between writing music fans want to hear and artistic integrity?
I don’t think anyone was ready for Feel. We put out a modern-day rock and roll record from start to finish, like a rock album. And if you stuck behind us, you stuck behind us and if you didn’t, then move on and listen to the next shitty scene band.
I think we are breaking grounds with this new record and I think it’s going to be something different and refreshing. We’ve always been the band to break the mold. When Sleeping With Sirens does an acoustic EP that breaks top 10 in the top 200, everyone else goes off and starts doing acoustic EPs. I really like that, so we’re the new band that’s kind of setting the trend.
And not to sound cocky, but I feel like a lot of the things that we do, we succeed from it and a lot of other people try to succeed from the same things that we’re doing as well. So, when we put out Feel, which is like a 90 percent singing album, and it sold 60,000 records first week, I began to see a lot of bands in the scene that went from literally having no singing at all in their songs, to a complete 180, having six tracks on an album of all singing and six of all screaming.
So I feel like we’re that turnaround band, and if you do like us it doesn’t matter because in the end, once you listen to the record on repeat you are going to catch on.
I would even argue that the transition began from the band’s first album, With Ears To See And Eyes To Hear, to their sophomore release, Let’s Cheers To This.
Yeah, I was a new guitar player and Jesse [Lawson] was a new guitar player, replacing the old two off of the first record. It helped take our band off.
With Feel, we opened with a slow rock ballad, and we picked up on the second half of the album. It’s just a rock record. This new record we’re putting out that we did with John Feldmann is something that no one is going to be ready for.
Not necessarily saying that it’s a rock record or a pop record, but everyone is going to hear and adapt to our new sound very well I think. It’s a very eclectic mix of songs.
Speaking of sounds, I’ve read you like to use a lot of different pedal effects for your guitar playing. Does your approach differ any while in the studio or playing live? Is one setup simpler than the other?
Not really. I try to keep true as possible to the album sound when playing live. During the Feel process I used an old Orange Rocker 50 amplifier that I found and bought and played with while touring for Feel. And now on the new record, I ran Bad Cat Hot Cat 50 amplifiers the whole record, and that’s what I’ll be running live. I am always swapping pedals in and out constantly though.
I play Les Paul Customs and use a different array of pedals for that right sound. And I won’t stop until I hear the right thing.
What kind of music influences your guitar playing and riff writing?
Man, everything. From old school Lynyrd Skynyrd Southern rock to Jimi Hendrix to like, everything. I’m a very wide range guitar player, a heavily blues-influenced player, so anything like Muddy Waters or Buddy Guy.
I’m a big Gary Clark Jr. fan, I know he’s a newer blues player. Mainly anything rhythm and blues that you could tap your foot to and go off of is what I really am influenced by heavily.
A lot of riffs off of Feel definitely sound bluesy, maybe Zeppelin influenced?
Yeah, Jimmy Page is definitely in my top five.
So when Sleeping With Sirens is creating new music, what’s the songwriting and recording process like? Does everyone contribute or is it mainly a couple people, like you and Kellin, bouncing ideas off each other?
It’s a lot of those things. The new record is a lot of me, Kellin, John Feldmann, and our new guitar player, Nick Martin, formerly in the band D.R.U.G.S., basically sitting down and trying something new. Instead of basing songs off music, we started basing them off melodies.
So Kellin and Feldmann would go write a hook and bring it back with a chorus to write to. If it were awesome, we’d keep it in the bank, and if it wasn’t awesome and didn’t get stuck in your head, we’d do it once and trash the song. Throw it away and never listen to it again.
This time was very melody-based. We would sing something and if we were like, “Holy shit that’s awesome!” we would fuck with it and we worked with it and wrote the song around how big the chorus could possibly be.
Did this approach to songwriting differ from Feel’s studio sessions?
We were going through a very weird time when Feel was going on. We didn’t know where Jesse was going or how he was feeling before his departure so we all had different mindsets.
With this new record we are a happier band overall, and it definitely shows. There are not a lot of sad slow jams; it’s just like a feel-good rock record. It’s very different. It brings us back to what we grew up on, 2005 and just fun punk rock songs.
Sleeping With Sirens is hitting the road on a world tour before their new album releases next year. Your co-headliners, Pierce The Veil, have toured alongside your band many times before. Why do you tour so often together and what are you most looking forward to touring with them again?
Kellin was talking to Vic [Fuentes, frontman for Pierce The Veil] and he asked what they were planning for the next year, and they had no idea. So they just kind of thought of doing a world tour together and bringing out the bands we want to bring out, and thought it was perfect. Our bands are at the size now where we can do that.
We tour together because fans know our bands cohesively. It’s like when you hear Pierce The Veil, people are always like, “Oh yeah! And Sleeping With Sirens, of course.” So this world tour is very fan-driven; we’re doing it for them. Every day people want to talk about a world tour like this on the internet, so we’re giving it to them.
What I’m most looking forward to is hanging out and partying with my boys, because we have a really good time any time we get together. It is a really, really fun, crazy, memorable moments kind of thing. Every single night something crazy and weird happens. It’ll be fun.
What can fans expect to hear from the setlist for this upcoming world tour? Is there any new music off the upcoming album featured?
Like I said, this a very fan-driven tour, so we’re playing two songs off the first album, we’re playing two brand new songs, including one that’s going to be our first single, which should be released soon.
Then we’re playing a lot of Let’s Cheers To This and some songs off Feel. So, we’re mixing it up and we’re playing basically what the kids asked for over Twitter for the last nine months we’ve been off. We took all of our Twitter knowledge to build a badass, 15- or 16-song set around it. We’re giving all the kids what they really want to see and hear.
With all this talk of the new album, are there any concrete details you could provide on the upcoming release? Album name? Tracklisting?
I know there will be 13 songs. I kind of know what we’re going to call the album, but not good enough to say. We will be releasing the album in 2015. That’s all I really know so far. I know we have our first single, and it’s just a fun, two-minute, thirty-second fast punk rock song.
Sleeping With Sirens perform Nov. 20 at Pine Belt Arena in Toms River, NJ, and Nov. 24 and 25 at The Paramount in Huntington, NY. For more information, go to sleepingwithsirens.net.