On Deck: Sleepy Sun


Sludgy California rockers Sleepy Sun like things loud, but they also aren’t afraid to slow things down to a crawl and draw out every slithering note and viscous riff that bubbles to the surface of their often complexly structured music.  Though far from calling attention to its own intricate rhythms, the music moves forward effortlessly, with the band simply acting as vessels for the often thunderous slabs of guitars and percussion that come thudding from the speakers.  Culling their sound from a dozen different influences — namely rockers like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, and recent stoner rock bands like Black Mountain and Kyuss — they incorporate various aspects of psych-rock and dusty desert-tinged melodies without losing a sense of their own individual identities.  And for a band so indebted to sounds so distinctly associated with specific artists, Sleepy Sun never come across as lazy peddlers of nostalgia or appear as though they’re banking on the goodwill of their musical ancestors to make that connection with the listener.  Their music with all its dense, layered instrumentation and submerged melodies is solely their own, even if they do happen to point out musically who some of their favorite bands are in each song.

With the release of their upcoming Sleepy Sun 7″, the band seek to pile even more sounds and interwoven rhythms into their music.  Fuzz runs rampant and singer Bret Constantino howls into the night as thick chunks of oozing riffage curl out into the evening air, punctuated by throbbing spikes of chest-rattling bass and mountainous drumming.  They’ve been able to get a few pointers from bands like Arctic Monkeys and Black Angels, with whom they’ve shared a stage on occasion. We recently spoke with Sleepy Sun about some of their favorite records and those albums in particular which helped to shape them as a group.  It should come as no surprise that they’ve chosen to list bands such as The Stooges and Spiritualized as being hugely influential to them — and the often abstract rock aesthetic of The Velvet Underground (who they also mention) fits in quite nicely as well.  They step back from the harder edge of rock for a moment to discuss the merits of classical guitarist Pepe Romero.  Everyone needs their downtime after all.  Read the band’s full list below in the latest installment of our On Deck series.

Evan Reiss:

The Velvet Underground - White Light-White Heat
The Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat

The most influential album for me is the Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat. It inherently changed the way I listened to music. It showed me that it was possible for a record to sound completely fucked and beautiful at the same time. I remember the day I bought it at the mall as a teenager on a whim. I threw it on the stereo and it made me feel really uncomfortable/scared…and I liked that feeling. It’s pop music that’s experimental and dangerous. It embodies the spirit of rock n’ roll.

Jack Allen:

Television - Marquee Moon
Television – Marquee Moon

I first heard this record in high school when a family friend gave it to me for Christmas. It changed the way I thought about music entirely. They embodied the spirit of early New York punk without relying on any of the speed and aggressive tones of their contemporaries, and everyone in the band could really PLAY. The title track in particular taught me about the power of repetition, and how beautiful it can be to really stretch out a song.

Bret Constantino:

Spiritualized - Lazer Guided Melodies
Spiritualized – Lazer Guided Melodies

I really appreciate how this album is sequenced as 4 tracks with 3 songs under each title. it really forces you listen through the entire record, which is one of the most beautiful and epic listening experiences. the songs build like dream sequences, from sweet lullabies to noisy epiphanies. I also really love the horn arrangements in juxtaposition with the loud fuzzy guitar playing. the production is so dynamic, I hear new sounds with every listen. for me, this record is the space gospel.

Brian Tice:

Pepe Romero – Guitar Solos
Pepe Romero – Guitar Solos

My Pepe Romero story starts on a stretch of the US-101 South between San Francisco and Los Angeles where the highway turns out of the foothills and traces the Pacific. I was listening to a classical radio station. At the exact moment the ocean came into view Pepe Romero’s rendition of Isaac Albéniz’s “Suite Espanola Opus 47 No. 3” came on over the air. The next moments acted as a great sublimator for me. At the time my mind was focused on both personal trouble and the trouble of someone very close to me. I jotted down the name Pepe Romero and later bought the compact disc. Months later I went on tour with Sleepy Sun in Europe. I would listen to the collection while looking out the window of the tour van, attempting to draw or photograph the unfamiliar places I was passing through, or any time I needed a break from rock. Our last show on the tour was in Porto, Portugal. We had a day off so I walked around the city. At one point I came across a musical conservatory where a classical guitar concert was about to take place. Outside on the patio someone was warming up with “Opus 47 No. 3.” Peacocks were roaming the surrounding garden and the Atlantic ocean was sparkling behind the concert building. The song had come full circle for me. I’ve always been drawn to classical guitar in its own right, but Pepe Romero’s interpretations influenced me to think about the feel and dynamic of the ideas presented live or on record. Plus it’s super good nap music.

Matt Holliman:

Iggy & The Stooges - Raw Power
The Stooges – Raw Power

It’s impossible for me to pick a favorite Stooge’s guitarist. Ron Asheton has this very raw, primitive appeal that’s simplistic, yet really expressive. Once he got bumped to bass and James Williamson took over guitar duty on Raw Power, you can immediately hear the difference. There’s a refined technicality in the six-string swagger, but the nastiness remains in spades. The opener “Search and Destroy” quickly sets the aggressive tone of the album, only to be followed up by the sublime “Gimme Danger”, an acoustic ballad with single-note pinging keys and a burning mess of Williamson lead as the track collapses. The latter is one of my favorite songs of all time, and I’ve been lucky enough to see The Stooges perform it live a handful of times over the past few years.

Sleepy Sun’s new 7″ is out now on Dine Alone Records.