I was a weird kid growing up.
But‚ in a good way‚ I suppose.
During my childhood‚ I never seemed to fit in anywhere. I liked to wander in the woods while others played video games. I fell in love with girls when others still looked at them as a cootie infection. I listened to music handed down by my parents as others turned on Total Request Live.
Now‚ as an adult‚ I'm still weird and still don't really fit in anywhere‚ but I'm damn proud of that fact. I still wander‚ fall in love and listen to music now more than ever. And being a weird kid (adult)‚ I'm immediately attracted and drawn to other weird‚ unique and beautiful people. Life is too short to stick close to the ordinary.
And‚ Sleepy Sun is far from ordinary.
On the heels of their latest release (Spine Hits)‚ the San Francisco quintet recently rolled into the Champlain Valley for an intimate performance at The Monkey House in downtown Winooski. A frenzied collage of gritty rock 'n' roll and polished harmonies‚ the group mashes together psychedelic rock‚ arena power ballads and avant-garde folk into an addictive style tailor-made for their restless souls.
The sounds radiating from this band whisk me away into a childlike state of wonder and curiosity. It is the same feeling conjured when listening to Cotton Jones‚ Radiohead or Wilco. Each of these groups can never be compared properly or pigeonholed (which would be sacrilegious). What they have in common is the mere fact they all are completely unique and possess the power to transport you into the simplicity of life all too easily forgotten nowadays‚ handing you a musical kaleidoscope to see the world at the angle it was meant to be seen from.
Prior to hitting the stage‚ a couple band members of Sleepy Sun are wandering down the sidewalks, looking for a quick meal. Others sit around the innumerable stacks of instruments and equipment owned by the three acts taking the stage tonight. The air is crisp‚ a refreshing change from the abnormally high temperatures blanketing the North Country thus far this year. Several patrons take to the patio tables and chairs lining the sidewalk in front of the venue.
Leaning forward in his chair‚ vocalist Bret Constantino looks out at the traffic flying by to destinations unknown. He takes a sip of his beer and turns his gaze back the question posed.
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To be honest‚ I didn't expect this album [Spine Hits].
Yeah‚ I'm curious about that. It fascinates me. If you have an expectation for what an artist is going to create‚ then you are bound to be disappointed or it will never be the way you imagined it.
It took me about two listens and then it clicked. I realized that I don't want you to make every song like "White Dove" because then‚ ironically‚ I would get sick of it because every song would sound like "White Dove."
We didn't want to make the same record. We've evolved as musicians‚ as people‚ as collaborators. It's a different album as we are different people when we made the last one.
How has the direction changed since the last release?
For those first two records‚ for the most part‚ it was just the five of us and we went to this space and recorded. One of the reasons I'm so excited about this record is that there are a few imperfections and I think that's a sign of a good record. Nobody wants to hear a perfect record and I'm already excited for the next album. We wrote this record for almost a year. The best records‚ the best songs we write happen in the moment. It just happens like that. My favorite song on the record is "Boat Trip" because it came together‚ in its final stage‚ spontaneously right before we recorded it. It started out as a song with this driving feel‚ this nostalgia feel with lots of space and texture and we recorded it live. For the most part‚ the record was completely written in the studio‚ hundreds of hours putting these songs together.
As in‚ "We don't need to kick you over the head with double guitars each time‚ we can do it this other way and make you sit and really listen." You see the maturity evolving in the group.
I read this excerpt today in the Burlington paper tying your music and attitude to drugs and a psychedelic nature. Do you like that people automatically associate your music with that? I think it's bull that others may think you can only enjoy it with the use of hallucinogenic materials.
It's becoming so trite‚ isn't it? I agree with you‚ it does sell us short a bit. In terms of the genre‚ this record is a lot less about psychedelic rock‚ which may turn off some people‚ but there is this connotation about stoner riffs and reverb‚ like with Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd. It's not like that with us. How you ever read The Doors of Perception? They did these controlled experiments about using mescaline. They compared his vision of what a chair looked like‚ maybe the way Van Gogh would have painted a chair. Depth perception is off‚ color is off‚ shape is different -- it doesn't look the way an average person sees it. And Van Gogh wasn't under the influence of mescaline; he just painted the chair the way he thought it looked like. Drugs can sometimes push the artist‚ but it should never be a dependent.
You guys definitely get pigeonholed a lot.
Yeah‚ anytime you put yourself out‚ anytime you publish your work‚ you're going to get criticized‚ pigeonholed‚ and people are going to misunderstand your intentions. That's something we're getting more comfortable with.