After six years in the making, the fruits of Philadelphia band Sleep Tactics‘ labour are finally coming to fruition with the release of their excellent math-rock meets noise rock meets heavy rock debut album S/T.
The band sent us Herniated, the penultimate track from S/T, which was released on Friday (6 August), to have a listen to.
Herniated jumps straight into an opening verse of lively vocals over guitars, then funky little stabs of higher-pitched guitars and distant vocals feed back into the more raucous vocals. The second chorus gives way to a cool little instrumental section of stabs of guitar over the rolling chords, then screamed vocals come in over the top.
It suddenly comes to a stop, only for the cool guitars to kick back in over a mass of pounding drums. Funky little twists of guitar come in then the pace drops out completely bar drawn-out guitars and ends on a minute of light guitar noises.
The album is packed with raucous rocky goodness and, despite only having seven songs, comes in at more than 45 minutes in length. A personal favourite is Don’t Protect Yourself which, like Herniated, bursts straight into a big rocky opening of angsty vocals and disjointed stabbing guitars. It’s lively, edgy and mixes things up with a nice little more melodic section before going out with a bang – and it’s by far the shortest track on the album.
At the other end of the scale is the 13-minute-long epic closing track No Insight (For The Kids). It unsurprisingly starts slowly, with a drawn-out keyboard sound that’s soon joined by a cool little meandering guitar lick, which is soon supported by low booming guitar chords that begin to pick up the pace. Dan’s distant vocals come in, then burst into more intense vocals over the continuing guitar lick followed by big high-pitched near-screams over funky high guitars. Check it out below:
We had a chat with frontman Dan Smith to get the lowdown on the band. Read on below…
GR: Who are Sleep Tactics?
DS: “Sleep Tactics is myself on guitar and vocals, Josh Taylor on bass and vocals and Matt Weber on drums. We’re from Philly. In very late 2013 I began recording an album of songs I had written myself, with Matt as the audio engineer. We worked on it for over three years. After it was done I wanted to put a band together to play the songs live. Matt knew the songs just from being around them so much, and then I asked my friend Josh to play bass, and we played our first show in July of 2018.”
GR: You sent us Herniated from the album. What should people be expecting from the song? What inspired you to write it?
DS: “Herniated is the most straight-forward song on the album. It was the last song written and I thought the album could use some simplicity. During the first recording session, which was the drums, we almost didn’t record it, because it was nearly an afterthought on the record whose composition had been finished days prior. Really glad we didn’t leave it out. The lyrics are about waiting for an injury to heal while dealing with the stress of everyday life.”
GR: How would you describe your sound to people that haven’t listened to you yet?
DS: “I would describe us as a mathy and heavy rock band.”
GR: What influences you to write music? Any key themes or topics that you write about?
DS: “We are inspired to write music by so many things. Most simply, it’s a fun thing to do. But then when you get doing it you are equally attracted by good music and repulsed by bad music, and that shapes and drives your unique way of writing.
DS: “Another big driver is being dissatisfied with your previous attempts and wanting to bury them with something better. I think a lot of the subject matter in the lyrics is a response to modern ideas that are gaining prevalence that I do not agree with.”
GR: Which bands/musicians are/have been your strongest musical influences?
DS: “There are so many influences behind the writing that occurred during this period of my life, and my influences are always changing. But I think some of the albums that I can point to and you can really hear it would be Mock Orange’s The Record Play, Mars Volta’s Deloused in the Comatorium, and Damiera’s M(us)ic. Other than that, a ton of mid-west indie rock bands, and basically all the good rock and metal bands from the late-nineties and 2000’s.”
GR: What have you got coming up through the rest of 2019? New music, new gigs, recording etc…?
DS: “We’re going to release this record and try to have it reach as many ears as possible, then maybe put ourselves in a position to play more shows, and eventually focus on starting the next record.”