Columbus, OH, band Pray For Sleep is one of the most exciting, engaging bands we’ve discovered in a while. As soon as we fired up Spotify, searched their name and hit play on lead track Ask Us, we were gripped on their intense rock-meets-metal sound.
Ask Us typifies the band’s sound and intensity. It starts slowly, but gradually builds throughout, including a big shoutalong chorus. But it finishes in style with huge screamed vocals and booming guitar chords, a big drum roll and big doomy guitars under intense screams then a big passionate final chorus.
But, as good as this track is, we’re not here to talk about it. Instead, the band sent through Pretty Boy Swing Dance, which it’s fair to say reflects the darkness of its subject matter – domestic abuse.
It opens up with cool stabbing guitars, then growled vocals join in and build into a scream that gives way to heavier guitars and a synth noise over intense screamed vocals. The screamed vocals continue through a chorus of pounding drums and guitars, then kicks straight into another intense verse. The drums drop out for the cries of “Don’t you think they’ve had enough? This isn’t love,” which are met by cool riffs then another big smash of screamed vocals. It’s a huge track, that’s a little more savage than most of their other tracks, and you can give it a listen below:
Pray For Sleep have an impressive back catalogue of tracks that continue this intense, engaging rocky, metal sound. This includes the excellent Hardcore Insomnia, from their 2017 eponymous debut EP, which starts slowly but soon launches into an avalanche of screamed vocals and a big singalong chorus.
We absolutely love the sound of Pray For Sleep and had a chat with them to find out more about them and their inspired choice of one of this writer’s favourite bands as their biggest musical influence. Read on below…
GR: Who are Pray For Sleep?
PFS: “Pray For Sleep is a four-piece Rock/Metal group from Columbus, Ohio, comprised of drummer Reno Houston, guitarist Hayden Kissler, guitarist Ethan Carlson, and vocalist Grant DeCrane. The group was originally formed by Reno and Hayden when Hayden found Reno through a connection on Instagram.
“The band found early success and notoriety by winning a spot on 2018’s Rock on the Range. Members of the band had to skip their high school graduation to play the show, opting to open the stage in their caps and gowns. It was their fourth show ever. Since then, they’ve used this success to emphasize awareness and education around mental and behavioral health conditions.”
GR: You just released Pretty Boy Swing Dance. What should people be expecting from the song?
PFS: “The newest release, Pretty Boy Swing Dance, is the heaviest song the band has written so far. We wanted to make a song that just went 100% from start to finish, and eventually landed at this song. It’s a heavy song with a heavy subject matter, serving as a sort of call out against domestic violence and abuse.
“We have seen people deal with this kind of stuff, both in close proximity and a little further, so it is something we all feel passionately about which drove the tone of the song. It’s a fun song to listen to and jump around, but we also put in a good amount of effort in making sure the lyrics meant something and had more of a message behind them.”
GR: How would you describe your sound to people that haven’t listened to you yet?
PFS: “Our sound is quite varied. With our recent releases especially we made a focused effort on creating songs that sound unique and would be accessible to different kinds of listeners. We tend to stay in the hard rock/metal genre, but we also don’t want to limit ourselves to anything, if we feel like writing something a little different we’ll give it a try and see what people think.
“Our core sound revolves around having catchy guitar riffs backed with full drum parts, and a mix of clean melodic vocals with some of the harsh screaming depending on the mood and feel of the music. The balance of the vocals is different from song to song, as you can see with Pretty Boy Swing Dance, given the tone of the song we decided to forego the clean vocals entirely, while in other songs we have little to no screaming and decided to focus on the clean melodic vocals. Hopefully, there’s a song out there that everyone can enjoy.”
GR:What influences you to write music? Any key themes or topics that you write about?
PFS: “A big focus for our writing has always been mental and behavioral health awareness. We have all struggled with different forms of anxiety and depression and other issues, and have made a concentrated effort to include those things in our music to do our best to help people in any way we can. Music has always been a coping mechanism for all of us and we hope to be able to be that kind of escape and help for others with the music we create.
“We want people to know they aren’t alone. And we want to do whatever we can to help educate and raise awareness about the topic of mental and behavioral health.”
GR: Which bands/musicians are/have been your strongest musical influences?
PFS: “Our strongest influence, in the beginning, was without a doubt Beartooth, and they continue to inspire a lot of our core sound. For our more recent music, however, we tried to broaden our perspective and listen to and pull inspiration from a much wider variety of artists and genres. Bands like I Prevail, Nothing More, and Bad Flower just to name a few.
GR: What have you got coming up through the rest of 2019?
PFS: “The rest of this year has more new music coming up, so keep an eye out for that, we’ll always be continuing to write new music, and hopefully find some time for some more out of town shows to spread our music to more and more people.
“The biggest show for us this year, however, is our upcoming headliner at A&R Bar in Columbus Ohio on 16 August. A lot of our focus has been on preparing for this show, and we’re really excited to get to play some new music live for people. So if you’re around Columbus and like our music, come meet us and let us know what you think at this show. There will be lots of exciting stuff going on there and you won’t want to miss it!”