THE intrepid clan of Sleeptalking…
consist Tom Nosek, Freddie Strange; Dan O’Connell, Rhys Friery-Keys and Jack Hamilton. The Bristol-based band are promoting the single, Professional Dreamer. In fact, owing to a heavy tour schedule, they have released an even-newer song in the meantime – which I have included later on. I ask about touring and are down to play this year’s Glastonbury – organiser Michael Eavis actually offered to personally introduce them on the stage. The guys have had a mad and busy last few months which will result in, aside from awesome gigs like Glastonbury, their E.P., Oh Isn’t It Strange (21st April). The band grew up on Britpop but are influenced by Grunge-revivalists like Kagoule and Tigercub. I ask about their music tastes and the artists they grew up on. They discuss how they all met and how a goblin and Gary Barlow are the perfect, if slightly bizarre, combination to describe their upcoming E.P.
Hi, guys. How are you? How have your weeks been?
Hello. Pretty tired post-tour but looking forward to recording some new songs before festival season properly kicks in. How are you?
How are you?
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourselves, please?
We are a sparkly, Grunge-Rock inquisition: Freddie Hickey (Guitar), Dan O’Connell (Bass); Rhys Friery Keys (Keys), Jack Hamilton (Sticks) and Tom Nosek (Vocals).
‘Sleeptalking’ is a pretty nice band name. Where does that come from?
“Strange will never be yours”. We were essentially ambushed by the new name-change and it really pushed us deep into question about what this band was. ‘Sleeptalking’ was one of Fred’s ideas which came out of our earlier discussions about music and topics and lyrics: the idea that, as a society, we are all unconscious and asleep and we never really think for ourselves – a drip-feed society.
We wanted to be able to communicate what we saw in the world in a passive fashion; nor did we want it to come across as pompous.
So, we wanted to link our art with some form of guidance or progressive awakening to this media-driven collective consciousness. It links with dreaming and helpfully ties itself into Strange’s and Hanging Tree’s obsession with Hope.
Can you reveal how the band sort of came together? Were you all friends from way back?
Fred and Tom met years ago and played around (mainly acoustically) with covers and tried developing some originals in the style of anyone we liked at the time. We recorded an album that we were very proud of – because it cemented the idea that we wanted to be musicians and that we were actually decent and not unbearable to listen to. Off the back of that, Tom met Dan in a gin bar where the old album was on a playlist.
We managed to coax him into joining. Fred met Jack at school and they’d always been friends waiting for the right project to work together.
After dragging any two minutes (worth of song) out into ten-plus minutes of loud Doom-Rock, for a few years, we realised it was time to play some faster stuff and approached Rhys – pushing towards a new sound and direction.
Professional Dreamer sounds like an appropriate new song, given the band name. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind that?
We’re glued on the idea of dreaming above our basic forms: it’s almost a rallying cry to the people who lucidly project ideas of themselves doing something more wholesome and wonderful.
Kind of a reflection of ourselves, hey?
The video certainly stands in the mind. Do you enjoy making videos and how important is that visual aspect to your sound?
Making videos, for some reason, always turns into some sort of chaotic city-run – where the cameraman is trying to capture the stupidity we leave in traces.
Fortunately, we are working with French 75 who never lose sight of the concept – and somehow translate our minor rampages into something that matches the lyrical ideas in our songs.
The band is based in Bristol. What is the current music scene like in the city? Has it changed a lot since the Trip-Hop masters Portishead and Massive Attack played there?
There’s a lot of younger bands coming through with an exciting high energy live vibe – bands like Lice, Van Zeller; Sœur, Karma Repair Kit. Otherwise, I have no idea about the Trip-Hop era having come from Preston.
Oh Isn’t It Strange is the E.P (out 21st April). What can you tell us about the sort of themes and sounds we can expect?
Going to bed and being unexpectedly woken up by Glam, Grunge-Rock: like a goblin sat on your chest screaming “LISTEN TO THIS, IT’S NOT GARY BARLOW”.
I know all you guys share a love of 1990s music and Grunge. Who are the bands and artists that inspired you growing up?
Almost too many to list: Nirvana, Beastie Boys; Gary Barlow, Spice Girls; Duran Duran, Steve Miller Band; My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive; Radiohead, Soundgarden… TLDR.
PHOTO CREDIT: Ania Shrimpton
I sense bits of Jane’s Addiction and Grunge in your music. Do you think modern music lacks the same wonder and durability as the 1990s’ best?
It could be more about the accessibility, ease and listener attention-span nowadays.
Social media digestibility has small-screened everything that happens – which, to some, creates huge spaces for creativity but, for others, it hazes that glittery fantasy of the ‘90s era.
Taking it back to your current plans and I believe you are half-way through your current tour. How is that going?
Because of the length of time that we have taken to actually to respond to this interview, the tour is now over! Tour’s is its own special beast – you’ve gotta (sic.) respect that.
You will be playing Glastonbury this year. How did that come about? You guys pumped about it or pretty nervous?
Michael Eavis was invited to one of our gigs and we must have done something right! Got the call the next day, to which we all reverted to toddlers praising the sun in Teletubbies.
Having never been to the festival or ever played a major festival, I don’t think any of us are thinking about it yet. It could leave to P.T.S.D.-levels of nervousness.
What have been your fondest memories as a band so far?
The first sell-out home show at The Louisiana: pretty intense feeling.
Who are the new artists you recommend we investigate?
What advice would you give to any new songwriters coming through?
Keep on writing and never stop.
Finally, and for being good sports, you can each select a song (not one of yours as I’ll do that) and I’ll play it here.
Sœur – Slow Days
Imperial Daze – Man Out of Myself
Toto – Africa
Electric Youth – Innocence
The Moonlandingz – Vessels