It's hard to stand out on Long Island.
Rising from the ashes of hardcore soldiers skycamefalling and a local Jersey band called Stillwelle, what we came to know as The Sleeping shook the foundations of the Long Island scene the minute it was getting a bit too stale. We had our local successes, and then we had our endless droves of copycat bands who both worshipped and emulated them to no limit.
All of a sudden we had these super-talented musicians on the scene who took the aesthetic and twisted it in their experienced hands, shaping it into something we didn't even know we needed and wanted until it was crawling in our ears. A dude in a mexican wrestling mask controlling a light show behind the drums? Live, this translated brilliantly and was so ground-breaking and new. A robot named Emiglio, representing on stage? Don't know where that came from, but who cares, it was great. Effects-driven guitars that took you to another planet, a drummer that could run circles around anyone else in the scene, and a vocalist with tons of heart and presence. Thank God for The Sleeping.
Much has changed since then; Cameron Keym's departure before the album What It Takes saw the entrance of guitarist Paul Cadena and organist/keyboardist Chris Evans, and a whole new sound that stirred up the fan base a bit. With their second LP with the new line-upThe Big Deep recently completed and nearing release on 9/28, Steve and I threw some questions at Doug to dissect how he feels about where the band has been, where it's going, the state of the scene and more.
WM: What makes The Sleeping come out with a fourth album as a unit? It's understandable that you're all passionate, devote musicians and artists, but what makes you want to come together and make it with this voice and with this context?
Doug: Hmmmn... that's a hard question to answer because I feel that what drives us all individually is what makes the unit itself work. If we all didn't have heavy influences in completely different areas from one another then it really wouldn't fuse together the way it has.
WM: "What It Takes" was the first album with the new line-up. How does it feel now being with that same line-up on this new album as opposed to the last one? Are you guys finding that you've found your voice a bit more, that you're growing more cohesive as a unit? Also, how do you feel about "What It Takes" as a whole?
Doug: I love What It Takes... I am always extremely proud of what we accomplish but I knew that it was merely a stepping stone towards an intense growth and rebirth. You can definitely feel a difference between this album and What It Takes. When we got Paul and Chris we dove straight into writing and recording. There wasn't enough time to naturally grow together. On this record it seems as if everything was completely natural. The music, the experiences together... a very natural yet immense growth. We are the tightest unit we have ever been and I honestly feel that everyone is going to see, hear, and feel that with this record.
WM: There was a point in time where the long island music scene was a hotbed of activity, renewing and reviving itself after the brand new/glassjaw/taking back eruption. With nothing of the sort happening now, how do you feel you'll identify with your band's home base?
Doug: First I would like to say that there is creativity everywhere. Obviously "explosions" are great but sometimes it's the slow burners that light the world. Bands might not be erupting in a sense but there are a ton of bands coming up and doing their thing and when it's consistent it will show. I think that is what stands out and identifies with the people in their hometowns and anywhere else. As for us specifically... I just want Long Island, NYC and the rest of the world to know that we aren't going anywhere. We obviously love Long Island and NYC because that's where we are from but we want to give and receive that love everywhere we go. Music holds no boundaries.
WM: Recently in one of your studio updates, you revealed that the new album will be called "The Big Deep." In what context is that supposed to be taken, and how does it define the album overall? Without having heard any of the material off of the new record, how close could you call this set of songs a reinvention for the band?
Doug: I don't want to give too much of it away without the listener getting their own take on it but I will say that The Big Deep is by far the biggest reinvention we have ever had as individuals and as a unit. It's a very vast journey sonically and especially lyrically. The listener is going to hear and feel this record with everything they have and It's definitely going to be a head trip.
WM: Any standout tracks on "The Big Deep" that we should be looking out for, and for what reason?
Doug: I can't even answer that... I have just been sitting here day in and day out listening to pieces of the mixes and I can't even put my finger on which song I feel more connected with. Every song has made me the absolute most proud I have ever been of this band and I have always been extremely proud of us.
WM: When The Sleeping first hit the scene, it was definitely a band that was being dubbed a game-changer, a band that was going to get blood back in those tired veins of music. What was it like as a band then as opposed to what it's like now? Do you feel that it's still the same band, direction-wise? How do you feel you handled that process, what would you do differently? I mean, you can either go lebron james or ryan leaf with this one...
Doug: This is a great set of questions... To answer the last question first, I wouldn't do anything differently. This has been an absolute rebirth rather than a robotic like process. I do feel that this is a completely different direction for us as a band BUT I also think this record has jumped deeper into The Sleeping's sound. It's very hard to explain this through typing... but when we first came around people were attached to our intricacies. They took note of the fact that we were trying to do something different sonically and emotionally. There are so many bands nowadays that it's hard to distinguish the honest from the wicked. Well, in my opinion, we have become the most intricate we have ever been. The songs may be more focused but I feel that we have somehow, naturally created a vibe deeper than we have ever created before and I know that our fans are well aware that we have always been a vibe heavy band. So when people listen to this record... they're going to be getting The Sleeping in a whole different way BUT that's not only meant in a different direction. They're also going to hear everything they love about the band but much, much more connected. Difference through similarity.
Paul Cadena, Joe Zizzo, Chris Evans, Doug Robinson, Sal Mignano
WM: Can you see a difference between the audience you're appealing to now vs the audience that you may have been appealing to early on? Has the tour/show aesthetic changed for you at all?
Doug: I don't really study the difference between past, present, and future listeners. We just want to reach out to as many listeners as possible. Obviously, we draw the line when it comes to some tours that we feel wouldn't be best suited for us but at the same time.... music is music. You love it because you connect with it. You feel it, breathe it. I would never want to just play to one certain type of audience because I don't listen to one certain type of music. So many artists and bands just want to be kings of "The scene" or whichever scene they're in. We don't want that and we never have wanted that. We create music hoping that whoever listens to it, no matter what they listen to, will hear something and connect with it.
WM: You guys must have played with some amazing bands over the years. Can you tell us who you've toured with or played festivals with that have really blown you away? Anyone you've played with that were big influences on you? Who should we check out?
Doug: There are a ton of bands we have toured with over the years that have made an impact on us... I would go down the line but I would feel bad forgetting anyone specifically. Like I said a few questions ago... we are an extremely vibe heavy band. When we are influenced by certain bands we respect, it's more than just a musical influence. It's an emotional influence. We're influenced the strongest by our connections with the bands that make honest music and rough it out on the road because they love what they do and want to share it with others.
WM: Obviously WM is LI-based and is *mostly* music-oriented, but we post about everything from graphic novels, movies, books, video games. Anything else you guys are digging hard on right now that you want to suggest?
Doug: I am always reading... there are some crazy books I just bought. I sold my Xbox-360 because I was feeling too counterproductive, haha.
Post-script: What makes me most excited about The Big Deep is a short conversation I had with Sal Mignano (bass) about it while hanging out with them backstage at Irving Plaza at the Envy On The Coast farewell show; he was saying that out of all the albums they've produced, it's this one that really blows his mind. He was saying that when he listens to it, he can't even believe that he was a part of it. Considering all of the material Sal's been a part of over the years, that's a huge statement.
Read the forums online, watch the kids go crazy at their shows, and you'll begin to realize that there's always going to be a fervor for The Sleeping - because it's all quality.
Please go right over here to pre-order their new album The Big Deep and to be guaranteed some sick new tunes, a dope shirt and the bragging rights of being the first on your block to have them both.
Thanks to all of the guys for taking the time out to at least try to answer these questions, and Doug especially for giving us great answers.
Oh and one more thing, kids... click The Sleeping's official Facebook page above and "like" them to hear previews of 3 new tracks off of The Big Deep... hit "Featured" once you're on their page and check out Beautiful Gloom, Oh, Gloria, and Young Vibes... Don't Run Away From Me.
First Gamestop, and now this?! Everyone say "anyang" to the brand spankin' new facebook page of North Korea! That's right, the glorious nation led by none other than that figure-skating, musical writing, nuke exploding, four foot tall Notorious K.I.M, a.k.a Kim Jong Il. Yes, THAT Kim Jong Il. Go add them, it will give you super ironic hipster cred on tha' streetz yo.
Bring Me The Horizon's new video for "It Never Ends." All I will say is wait til 1:58 into it for something awesome. The video is cheezy as hell and that's perfect.
The Beat Generation was a moment. It was a literary movement, a coming together of like-minders at a time, the 1950's, specifically, in New York and later in San Francisco, when drugs and spirituality and freedom of lifestyle hadn't been given the mainstream counter-culture boost of Woodstock and Hippies and Timothy Leary. Equally important, it was also a group of friends. Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, a handful of others; friends, lovers and poets all, soaked in gin and jazz and excitement at life and the insanity it incurs, and always, alone or together, writing, writing, writing, and always, to this day, gaining new followers.
It seems, in film at least, an interest in the Beats is happening once again. First there's "Howl", the upcoming film about Allen Ginsberg's epic poem by the same name. It was a work which not only established the Beat Generation in the public's mind, but was also the first poem to cause so much uproar it became the subject of an obscenity trial. The very idea of that today almost seems like fantasy, but that only proves the progress and the effect those times had on the artistic freedom we know today. The film stars James Franco as Ginsberg and the trailer is here.
Also, currently filming is "On the Road", an adaptation of the most well-known of Beat novels, written by its most loved hero, Jack Kerouac. The book is an account of several road trips as experienced by Kerouac and a rotating cast of other Beat citizens, all given vaguely fictionalized names but all very clearly identified. The only news to report for that film so far is the casting, which ranges severely, from best possible to worst possible. The worst possible comes in the form of Kirsten Dunst and Kristen Stewart, the best possible comes with Amy Adams and, by far best of all, Viggo Mortensen as "Old Bull Lee", otherwise known as William S. Burroughs. If you're not sure who he was, well, in short, Burroughs was the openly gay heroin-addict who wrote "Naked Lunch". If you're going to get the casting right on anyone, it's certainly that one.
The opening line of "On the Road" goes like this. It might as well be the Beat motto:
"...The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes 'Awww!' What did they call such young people in Goethe's Germany?"
I should wait until my interview with The Sleeping in order to post this, but screw it. Go right over here to pre-order their new album The Big Deep and you'll get a pretty dope t-shirt, all for the low low price of $18. the album drops next month on September 28th. I've already received Doug's responses to the interview and from what he says, we're definitely in for some new and exciting sounds from the group.
This is some of the best news I've heard in a while; Canadian post-hardcore saviors Alexisonfire revealed via Twitter the other day that they've started work recording a new EP called "Dog's Blood." In my opinion this band's discography is damn near perfect, with the later albums having the ability to slowly spread their roots and take hold of you tightly; if you have the patience and open mind. About a year ago (?) the dreaded H word was being thrown around (hiatus) so I'm glad these guys are back in action.
In a bit of interesting news, solo artist and Emarosa frontman Jonny Craig will be rejoining his old band Dance Gavin Dance this fall for a record. As you may know, Craig was the old singer of DGD and recorded Downtown Battle Mountain with them before leaving due to "irreconcilable differences" and joining up with Emarosa. In my opinion he definitely upgraded when he made the move, but both bands are worth a listen for different reasons. The new DGD album should be way more interesting with his involvement, though. If you guys aren't familiar with him, Jonny Craig is an absolutely brilliant vocalist in the vein of Anthony Green (egotastic!) and Craig Owens (overrated!), and in my opinion even surpasses them at times.
Please check out everything he does.
for fans of the series, this is will more than likely make you shudder in anticipation. it's coming, and it's coming hard and fast. i still haven't played the second one, but the original is one of the greatest FPS experiences of all time. story, gameplay, innovation... monstrous.
for those not into the series, this is one HELL of a short film. watch it anyway.
also! if you have a ps3, do yourself a huge favor and download the scott pilgrim video game demo. plays JUST like river city ransom which is PHENOMENAL. looks to me like it's going to be a great multiplayer co-op experience, and the subject matter itself holds up tight. punch faces!
we've been following these kids for years in various forms of output, from phase 9, to end the stars, even through some of their different solo projects and other endeavors. this particular build of the trio of jon, nick, and anthony are focused on writing the music for pop songs which is a somewhat untapped market for those that come from this realm of the musical map. to check out what these cats are about, head over to their simple little place that lets the music speak for itself: theforcesongs.com. i'm kind of partial to Tasty myself.
dave and i got a chance to assemble some questions for the group, and anthony was nice enough to take the time to throw us some answers, with a little contribution from nick. check it out, sonstrils:
When did u realize that the music you create didn't necessarily have to resemble the music to listen to on a regular basis?
Anthony: I would say about 6 months ago. We were all doing a lot of different things, touring, writing personal music, working etc and we kind of put End The Stars on the back burner. We were trying to combine ETS with Pop and it just wasn’t making sense for us until we realized we can separate them and create two entities. I know that doesn’t really answer your question but I really don’t “listen” to music except my own if I even listen to music. I mean I’ve been influenced by musicians over the years but I really don’t care about it anymore. I used to listen to Van Halen, Metallica, Glassjaw, Deftones, Bjork, Jeff Buckley but I never wanted to make music that resembled them. I always had an idea of what I wanted to hear in my head and it was my own sound. What has really been hard for us over the years was separating what we wanted to create, and what we have to create to sell music. Fucked up but that is the game and you either play it and win, or play it and lose. Losing to me is being poor and creating music you want to hear because you don’t want to “sell out”. Winning to me is making enough money so that I don’t have to worry about keeping the electricity on and concentrating on making music whenever I want. Working at Starbucks everyday to afford to go home and work on music for 2 hours before I have to sleep to wake up and do the same shit everyday is not appealing to me.
Years ago, I had the opportunity to actually watch a song of yours get written from scratch track up through the layers and layers you ended up adding to completion. Has your process changed at all from writing aggressive rock tracks to now pop oriented stuff?
Anthony: I don’t think it has changed really, I would say we have just gotten smarter with and better at how we approach it. It usually seeds from a small idea. A riff, a progressions, whatever and then the 3 of us will attack it if we think it makes sense and it blossoms.
Are there any movie scores you'd love to redo?
Anthony: Lord of The Rings and/or Jurassic Park.
This unit is the combination that seems to keep coming back together. What are these songs without one element of the beast?
Anthony: How much of each element usually varies but we are always all apart of the project no matter what it is. There is no designated role or anything, just who does what at what time varies because we all play drums, guitar, piano, bass, sing, write lyrics so it just depends on who strikes first. If we subtracted one of us or 2/3rds I think it’s more noticeable but that rarely happens.
The Force has been doing a lot of writing for pop groups. If you were to go back down the path for rock songs, would you go back under the moniker End the Stars? Would you go to a new place? What are some other avenues you guys have lined up?
Anthony: End The Stars will never die. We plan on making music together again soon but just not right now. We need to be able to quit our day jobs so we can focus everything on the music and what we hear, feel, and want to experience. I think we will be in a new place because over the years we have gotten into a lot of things that have influenced us a lot and will cause us to make a new sound but a familiar feeling. There will be an End The Stars album at some point in the near future and it will be epic but for right now getting established in the industry is what we are mostly focused on.
This is sort of your standard interview question, but since you guys are more of a production team and fall to the background of artists, where can we currently hear you and where can we start to look to hear you in the future?
Anthony: www.theforcesongs.com You can always check there or just go to www.endthestars.com but that won’t really show you EVERYTHING we are working on because we can’t release a lot of the stuff we are doing because they are for artists albums etc.
As far as the pop world is concerned, there are certainly some producers that are standouts, that push the genre forward and come up with some truly unique and impressive tracks. Off the top of my head, examples would be The Neptunes, Timbaland, Swizz Beatz and Dr. Dre to name a few. Now that you are writing tracks that could potentially be used my pop, R&B and hip-hop artists, are there any producers of those genres that you look up to, who influence you, or who's careers you'd like to mirror?
Anthony: I love all of those producers. Some others I have always loved and been inspired by are Dr. Luke, John Feldman, Ross Robinson, and Rick Ruben. I honestly love all types of different production, I don’t care if it’s a Kesha song or a Glassjaw song as long as it makes me feel something or inspires me I’m all about it. I wouldn’t really want to mirror anyone’s success in particular but I definitely think we all want to be looked at as some sort of entity down the road that does more than just produce. We want to be looked at as those awesome writers, producers, musicians, players, and even have our own band on the backburner that is pretty sweet. Our ultimate goal at the end of the day I think is to be free to create music we want. I tell a lot of people this but I’m End The Stars biggest fan. I’ve always loved what we made and I think that kind of makes sense because when you create music, you should be making EXACTLY what you want to hear. That is what End The Stars is to me. So to be more along the lines of someone like Kanye who is a big producer, but still has his music would be ideal for me.
You're all artists and musicians. How does it feel to now be taking a backseat to the spotlight and creating the basis or background for another artist's success, instead of being the "Star" so to speak?
Anthony: It doesn’t bother me at all really. The only people I’ve ever cared about their opinions have been a select group of friends who totally get where we are and Nick and John. Being in the front doesn’t mean you are that successful in my opinion. A person standing on stage more than likely has a limited amount of time with success as history has shown, but a lot of those people standing behind the stage making it happen have had more success with long careers which we are looking for. We aren’t hoping to do this for a few years and go away, we want this to be our source of income through life so that we can do what we love. Because of the way the world runs we all have to make money, that’s the bottom line and if I’m going to work I want to do something I love. That is success to me so being in the spotlight has lost its appeal over the years.
Now that you're in production; what current artists would it be a dream for you to work with, taking into consideration the type of genres you are now writing for?
Anthony: I would really love to work with a lot of people. Beyonce, GaGa, anything along those lines. I’m looking for major success not some underground bullshit. I won’t sugarcoat this. I want big things. The bigger I get the more I can focus time and energy on what I really love. You may not love their music but you cannot deny the talent they have so I think the level of quality we bring will compliment them well.
Is there anyone in particular from either the pop, R&B or hip-hop worlds that you'd be absolutely stoked to have perform on one of your tracks?
Anthony: If you’re referring to the tracks we have up now. I think Rihanna would be really good for some of them. Her attitude is good for this sound. It’s hard to shake our rock influence which is a good thing and I think she has always had a rock feel to her music in a way. Right now we are really focused on taking on projects where we are specifically designing songs for artists so where we are now is different than where we were 5 months ago, and I’m sure that will change 5 months from now.
Nick: This is still new and exciting for us. We only started the pop thing a few months ago and immediately it's changed our lives. Check back with us in 6 months when maybe we'll have even a clue what's going on, cause right now it is a blur.
See this book? It's probably my favorite book of all time. Now that said, in all reality that's a rough assertion to make and more accurately it's in the top five. But regardless. It's up there. "The Contortionist's Handbook" which came out in 2002 and "Dermaphoria" which was released in 2005 by author Craig Clevenger are two of the most intense and brilliantly-written novels I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Clevenger wields words for description like a samurai sword, effectively taking you on such a gritty, reality-filled journey through addiction, crime and heartache that it's impossible to not come up for air every chapter, swearing it's too hard to go on.
That's the good news. The bad news is that I just read on
FILMDRUNK that friggin' Channing Tatum is set to produce and star in the film adaptation of the book. Which is kinda like saying Zac Efron will produce and star in Fight Club.
Although I would have liked to have seen someone with actual credibility behind the adaptation to this, the fact that it's being MADE in the first place is good news... I guess.
We'll see what happens.
Apparently, Clevenger is extremely unhappy with the way the film version of his book is panning out, thus far. Once again, FILMDRUNK has a post about it which is very interesting. I guess Clevenger went on a rant about the film adaptation on a message board somewhere, and starting ripping apart the script, piece by piece. Read: the film isn't even out yet. They haven't even started filming it. I'm hoping that this doesn't represent what the eventual final version will look like, but who knows. =/
in the battle for last place, aging legend Tony Hawk and budding megastar Shaun White are battling for supremacy over the coveted 'pseudo action-sports/abstract/fringe demographic' genre. Shaun has his paintboarding entry, while Tony has decided to throw more denial money at a violently failed property. i was under the impression that you aren't allowed to do your pet project until you release a few blockbusters, but that is obviously not the case here.
in a piece of hybrid movie/video game news, my friend Russ over at MTV Multiplayer wrote a quick post with a video you should check out. apparently, Guillermo Del Toro is making a foray into the world of gaming.
keep checking in for my upcoming interview with Vincent, the lead singer of The Acacia Strain. i wonder if he liked my review?