Sleep City will definitely give their listeners a sonic awakening when they encounter with spiraling refrains Distance & Age, their recently released magnum opus on Tragic Hero Records. Fans of acts such as Thrice and Chiodos are sure to uncover a new favorite, as Sleep City deliver heartfelt, musically ambitious tunes sure to jolt the senses. We recently caught up with guitarist Matty Baglini to find out more about the dynamic new album, their musical progressions as artists since their previous effort Still Breathing, stories from the road, and other eye opening topics of interest. Our journey through the vibrant soundscapes of Sleep City shall now commence…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Sleep City, and how long the band has been together.
My name is Matty Baglini and I play guitar in Sleep City. I originally started the band in 2009 but it has gone through tremendous changes since, both in sound and members. The band as it is has been together for about a year but the members in the band have been jamming together since we began playing our respective instruments over 10 years ago. Because of this, the band might as well have been formed when we were 14 and the chemistry would be the same.
Where is the band based out of and what is your local music scene like there? Are there any local bands you could recommend?
The local scene here is filled with talent, personally I would recommend checking out the other band our drummer is in, Sienna. There is another band out here called Sideshow that has some really cool stuff coming out soon, I definitely recommend checking that out.
Is there any story or concept behind the CD title Distance & Age?
Originally Distance & Age was just a lyric from a song we had tentatively called Zebra Lamp but as we were writing and recording the album it became a lot more to us. The thing a lot of people don’t know about this album is that we started recording this record the day we started writing it. And over the span of recording this album we toured, went broke, lost members, changed labels, changed sounds, and really changed our entire outlook on writing music in general. Because of this we thought that the phrase Distance & Age was the most accurate description of what this album represents to us, getting older and changing from your experiences.
Select two songs from Distance & Age and what inspired the lyrics.
The song Four Walls was based on lyrics that I had written when I was 17. At the time I was living in the hospital having been diagnosed with an acute form of leukemia. My uncle had given me a laptop where I had written hundreds of songs during my time there and this song was one of them that I had written based on the internal struggles I was going through when dealing with my disease. Unfortunately that laptop was fried when a nurse plugged it into a high voltage outlet but I have since recreated the lyrics multiple times until it became the version you hear on the album.
The song So Close was inspired by an episode of Full Metal Alchemist.
Who did the cover art for Distance & Age and how much input did you have on it?
A friend of mind that I grew up with named Ricky Perrotta did all of the artwork for the album. The great thing about dealing with someone you know as well as we know Ricky is that you know exactly what you’re getting when you hire him. We trust in his work so we told him to take our ideas and run with them. With that we told him we wanted a tree to be represented in each of the four seasons to symbolize how we change through time and I think he did a great job in doing so.
When you look back on the music Sleep City recorded prior to being signed to Tragic Hero Records, what do you think of it now?
I definitely prefer our newer music to our old stuff but I still enjoy listening to a lot of those songs and thinking about where I was when I wrote it because it was all relevant to me at the time, you know? I mean I know that when I wrote some of that older stuff I was really into those songs and other music like that but as we get older we change. You can’t expect a band to stay honest and keep their music the same for years. We get older, we progress musically, and our tastes change. One of my favorite bands, Thrice, is a perfect example of that.
What has been the best and worst part about touring and being on the road?
The best part about being on the road is everything about being on the road. You get to sleep in a different town every night. You get to meet tons of people and go to concerts every single night. You see tons of beautiful landscape you wouldn’t get to see at home. And the greatest thing is waking up every day knowing that your only job is to play music and promote your band.
However, everything that’s great about being on the road is also what sucks about being on the road. You have to sleep in a van every night. You have to sit in a loud venue every night regardless of how shitty you feel, how tired you are, and how bad your head hurts from doing the same thing 7 nights in a row. And worst of all you need to make that 10 hour drive the next day regardless if the promoter decided not to pay you last night for the 8 hour drive you did to play their show.
Any strange or scary stories from the road you could share?
A while back we were on tour playing in the middle of nowhere North Carolina when I thought it would be smart to try some of the free over the counter jerky and drink some Bumwine, MD 20-20. That night I fell asleep early only to be woken up by a huge crashing tower of empty beer boxes that my band-mates were balancing on my sleeping body and hours later I was rushed to the hospital with pancreatitis. I was offered the chance to fly home but denied it, took my pain killers, diet of clear liquids and white rice, and finished out the tour.
If Sleep City could open up for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Queen, the original lineup. Why? Because it’s Queen. If I were to pick something more relevant I would say a tour with Thrice (Alchemy Index era), The Receiving End Of Sirens (The Heart and The Synapse era), The Starting Line (Based On A True Story era), and Taking Back Sunday (Where You Want To Be era) because not only are those are some of my favorite records and biggest influences but I feel like it would make sense stylistically.
What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most after hearing Distance & Age for the first time?
Mainly I just hope that the listener is able to connect in some way with the music. We wrote these songs in a way that we could all connect with the tracks on a personal level and I just hope that people are able to do that as well.
Any chance of Sleep City making your way back out West to play some shows?
We would absolutely love to. There’s nothing in the books at the moment but we are always actively looking for any and all tour offers so we are hoping to get out there again sooner than later.
Any final words of wisdom?
Support music. If you like a band, go see them live, tell your friends about them, talk to them on Facebook, and of course go buy their album. I don’t care if it’s not our album and it’s Macy Gray, Wu Tang Clan, or some tribal soundscapes, just support what you listen to. Most people don’t understand what kind of sacrifices you have to make to take this on as a career and every single bit of support makes all the difference.
Sleep City membership:
Matt “Bags” Baglini
(Interview by Kenneth Morton)
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