Interview: Sleeping With Sirens
We all know that in this day and age, you can’t believe everything you read or hear. But, if you’ve heard any gossip about Sleeping With Sirens still relentlessly pushing themselves to make the best music that they can, I can assure you that it’s the truth. It’s hard to believe that the band has only been together for just 9 years. They already have five studio albums under their belt, and not to mention that all five are drastically different and evolved from one another. Sleeping With Sirens show no signs of stopping and still remain one of the best acts in the emo/post-hardcore/rock scene. I sat down with Kellin Quinn [lead vocals, pictured above, center], Justin Hills [bass, pictured above, right center] and Nick Martin [rhythm guitar, pictured above, left center] at the Black Lounge, just hours prior to their show in Calgary in February. We talked about their latest record, Gossip, the Olympics, the legacy they hope to leave behind - oh, and we even got talking about “Hey There Delilah” by Plain White T’s.
Welcome to Calgary! Is this your guys’ first time here?
Kellin: I don’t even know where I was last week dude! It [MacEwan Hall] looks like one of those spots in the U.K. that we’ve been too, those college campuses we play all the time and we end up finding the bar and chilling there. That’s what it reminds me of, it’s a cool vibe.
How has the tour been so far?
Nick: It’s been a lot of fun. It feels good to be back on the road for a little bit, and then go home for a little bit, and then go back on the road for a while. It just feels good to be out playing songs off of Gossip.
Congrats on Gossip, by the way! The record was produced by David Bendeth, who has a versatile resume but has done a lot of heavier records in recent years (Northlane, I Prevail). What was the choice behind working with him, when the band has evolved sound wise into less “heavy” post-hardcore style music?
Kellin: He kinda sought us out. I think for the last few years he’s been coming to shows and was interested in doing a record with us, and we felt like we wanted to make a record with someone who wanted to make a record with us. We had other options to do an album with other producers, but they were like, “oh, we’ll see if we can fit it in, we’re kinda busy but we’ll see what we can do,” where David was like, “I wanna do your record.” He has such a good past album catalog. We had a great time, it was a lot of hard work but in the end, we got Gossip out of it and we’re happy with it.
I know that the album took six months to record and complete, how was this recording process?
Nick: It was the usual, it was grueling. I think we had a preconceived notion going into the record that got scrapped, per se. I think he [David] saw a lot of potential in us and what we could do as a band and we started from scratch with him. It was definitely a tedious process, we went to a lot of different cities and a lot of different studios. We ended up in Nashville, and it turned out really f---ing good. The time put in was well worth it for the outcome.
Aside from your debut album and Feel, Sleeping with Sirens have worked with a different producer for each album. Do you find that gives for a more fresh experience, and does it help the evolution of your sound and style?
Kellin: We like to hop around! We like experiencing new stuff. I think that each record has different potentials. If you stick with the same person, it’s kind of like the same thing over and over again, so it’s good to branch out and have someone else’s opinion. That’s the whole point of going to producers, is so that they can give their thoughts and opinions on what they think the band should do or how it should sound. We like to take chances and take risks.
Your song “Legends” is the official song for Team USA at the Olympics. How did that opportunity come about and how do you guys feel about it?
Nick: Well, Kellin was gonna try out.
Kellin: I was gonna go out for the Olympics, I was gonna be a long jump skiier. But I didn’t have the right skis so I gave them a song instead.
Justin: He had the complete wrong skis, he was supposed to have those long ones but he had those short snowshoe ones. They’re more like rollerblades.
Nick: That’s a way cooler story. The story isn’t actually that cool. It was kind of like the stars aligning. Our management was talking to some of the people on the committee there. We were in the studio and we had some demos done. So our manager played them a demo of “Legends” while we were in the studio, and they loved the song, and that was just kind of it - they heard like 30 seconds of it and were like, this is it. That’s the story that we were told, maybe the story will change at some point.
I mean, if you guys want to go skiing after the show tonight, we do have an Olympic park here from when we hosted the games in 1988. While we’re on the topic of legends, and legacy, you guys have been a band for 8 years and are still obviously going strong. What do you want your legacy to be for your fans?
Kellin: As long as we’re in the mood to be creative and make music, we’ll keep doing it. When it becomes not fun anymore, we’ll stop. I think that’s the biggest thing. I don’t want to be one of those bands that are trying to beat down the door still, I want to be a band that’s still having fun. For us to do that, we have to keep progressing our sound and have our fans grow with us. We can’t be the same band we were in 2012.
Justin: We’re gonna play a 50 year reunion one day. Kellin’s gonna be up there singing the highest song he’s got.
That’ll be sick, you guys will be on like a casino run and I’ll be there with a walker.
Kellin: Dude, I’m down to do a casino run.
Nick: We’re ready, dude. We might not be at that point but we’re ready.
Kellin: And then when we’re all done we’ll go to the same retirement home and just chill. Play some Backgammon, Checkers, Chess...
Nick: I know we’re joking about it but that sounds like fun man, I could do that right now.
[Hey There Delilah comes on in the bar]
Kellin: Wanna hear a good story about this song? So he wrote this song for this girl Delilah. I got to see a picture of her, she’s aight. But he never got a kiss, never got a handshake, never got a hug - he took her to the Grammys. But he never got anything for writing this song.
Nick: That’s such a sad story.
Kellin: They had a magical evening together, wrote a song about it, to no avail dude. If they would have ended up getting married after this song came out or something, that would have been the coolest story.
Nick: Yeah like, family and kids, but she still denied him, that’s really sad. Anyways, where do you go in an interview now after this?
Maybe one day Plain White Tees will be on that casino run too, and we’ll all be old and crying.
Kellin: We should do a tour together.
What’s next for Sleeping With Sirens?
Kellin: Probably new music, if we feel like it.
Nick: We caught a bit of an inspiration bug when we were in L.A before the tour started and some songs came out of it. I think what we learned from Gossip is that we should be continuously writing, even if there’s no set thing in mind as far as themes or release dates or anything, it’s just gonna keep our wheels greased. When we went into Gossip we thought we had some songs, but they weren’t quite there, so it pushed the process and made it a bit longer. Touring a lot, but also writing too.
Justin: I was gonna say, wake up, eat a Pop Tart.
Nick: We were watching the Grammy Red Carpet interviews the other night, and who was it, I think it was Lil Uzi? He was asked, “what’s next for you?” and he said, “I don’t know, wake up, eat some Pop Tarts.” At first, I was like, what? But then I was like, it’s kind of a genius answer because it shows he doesn’t really give a shit about his tours or anything, he’s just stoked for waking up tomorrow, living another day, eating some Pop Tarts. Keepin’ it real simple, I respect it. This morning I woke up, went to Tim Hortons and got a bagel and a coffee.
Did you get a double double? That’s how we do it in Canada.
Nick: Nah, I didn’t go too crazy, but what is that anyway?
It’s just a coffee with two cream, two sugar. But instead of going through and saying, two creams two sugar, Canadians were just like, no. Double double. Or sometimes, with our accent, a “dabble dabble.”
Nick: I didn’t know that, that’s so crazy. I have a friend from Saskatchewan, and he and I would always go back on forth on tour because he would always say things differently and we’d just laugh at each other. Ah whatever, you guys are way cooler than us.