The Clearing by Sleep For Sleepers is definitely one of the most astonishing releases of the year. Filled with a spiritual passion and profound sense of urgency, fans of bands such as Ride and Copeland will find a lot to admire when experiencing this compelling Los Angeles-based band. We sat down with the three members of Sleep For Sleepers prior to one of their shows at the Knitting Factory…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Sleep For Sleepers, and what’s the most embarrassing song on your IPOD.
Jamey: My name is Jamey – I play guitar and I sing – and most embarrassing? Creed is just one of those bands – I’m not a fan or anything. I guess it’s sort of embarrassing having Creed on my IPOD. I would say With Arms Wide Open – but it’s a good song at the same time. So it’s half embarrassing and half guilty pleasure.
Josh: My name is Josh. I play drums for Sleep For Sleepers – and probably the most embarrassing song – it’s the Work Up On It song from Beyonce. It’s got a good groove – but that would probably be it.
Chris: This is Chris – I play guitar in Sleep For Sleepers. It’s not on my IPOD now, but I did have N’Sync on my IPOD at one point recently – so that’s kind of embarrassing.
What do you think of the local LA/OC music scene and how do you guys fit in?
Chris: I’m pretty impressed with the local scene. I think there’s a lot of really great bands. And I think when we play here in Southern California, it’s a really good feeling playing with our friends just because I feel there are a lot of talented musicians in this town. I think you could call them local bands – but we are all musicians and we all have the same heart for doing what we love to do.
Being basically an indie band, what made you sign to Facedown Records?
Jamey: We’re part of Facedown, but then we’re also on Dreamt Music – the side label. We had a show with one of their bands on the Dreamt roster a year ago. The label owner was there and we got to talk to him and was just asking us some questions to see where we were at as a band. We kind of kept in contact with them over the next six months. We’d been praying about it and seeing what the best route was for us as a band. A lot of bands aren’t making money right now – that’s just how it is. We went into this knowing that we’re going to have to work really hard if we’re going to see some kind of payment. We’re not making it about the money – we just want to be able to pay bills and everything. But going into it, we knew it was going to be a struggle – but it felt right. Facedown has the name for themselves – and we could work off of that and help us get on some bigger tours and play with some bigger acts. It felt right, and we like what they are about as a label. We eventually decided it was the right decision.
You think you guys might play Facedown Fest next year?
Jamey: We’re hoping! We’re probably going to have to talk to Jason at Facedown about it. They had My Epic play and they’re an indie band. We were actually at the Facedown Fest watching them play, and they were received really well by all the fans. They were phenomenal. We’d love to be there and experience that.
Describe your music to an elderly church lady who thinks it’s so enchanting that you’re in a Christian band…
Josh: I’d say that our music is melodic pop alternative. If anyone’s listened to Mae or Copeland – it’s kind of on that end of things where it’s not so predictable. There’s still is a hook, a catch to it, there’s a drive and energy – but there’s also still depth and meaning and substance to it as well. That’s probably the best way I could describe it.
Is there any story or concept behind the CD title The Clearing?
Jamey: When I was writing the lyrics, I was going through a lot personally – just dealing with some things – kind of like the topic of forgiveness. There’s a lot of things I needed to be forgiven for and probably forgive other people for. There were so many topics going into writing it, but the basis of it is going through those things fully trusting in God that he was going to pull me out of that situation. I was trying to relate it to other listeners so that they could relate to it somehow. Here’s all these things that were going wrong in my life – it was kind of like a storm – and by the end of all these situations I put myself in, the clouds were clearing. And that’s kind of where the name came from – The Clearing. The storm is passing – here’s all these things in my life – and God was really there for me and kind of took it away at the end.
Tell me about the song Thieves and Bones and what inspired the lyrics….
Jamey: Thieves and Bones – that’s kind of our single right now. It’s not necessarily about a certain situation I was going through. I was just seeing the world around me and just saw how kind of people view each other. And I took it from the standpoint of the first verse – it’s kind if like I had a conversation with this business man – someone who looks like they had things in life figured out. They’re dressed nice – it seems like they have money – they’re doing everything right in life and succeeding. And in the second verse I’m having a conversation with like a homeless man who looks like he’s gone through a lot. He’s dirty, and obviously he went wrong somewhere in life to get him where he’s at. He’s living on the street. In talking to both of those people – in my mind there’s no difference. By God – we’re all treated the same. We’re all loved the same. We’re given the same grace. The world sees a difference between those two people, but in my mind I had to see that we’re equal. I am that business man. I am that homeless guy. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve had high times and I’ve had low times. The chorus just ties it together – we’re all equal – we’re all the same.
Would you consider Sleep For Sleepers a Christian band or ministry? Why or why not?
Jamey: Absolutely yes. We’re all Christians in a band. I think one of the main reasons we’ve stayed a band for as long as we have is because we’ve kept the same focus – keeping God at the center of this band and always focusing on Him. We’re not perfect people and we’ve definitely strayed away from being close to God. We’ll lose focus sometimes and we could see our band falling apart. We strongly believe that God is the one behind all the stuff that we’re doing. Everything that we do is a blessing from God. It’s us using the gifts that God’s given us. But it’s God that’s gonna take us as far as He wants us to go. Every show – it’s not just about putting on a great show onstage – but it’s also being there for the kids and being an example of Jesus for them. Basically just being somebody who could love them in this world – and just trying to do that to the best of our abilities.
Do you have messages for people reading this who might want to check out your band?
Chris: I guess my message to kids that might want to check it out – that hopefully when they listen to our album from start to finish that they’ll be able to feel something – I would hope that when kids listen to our album that they’ll be able to take something from it. We really try to put as much passion and our hearts into it. With Sleep For Sleepers – the name means something for each of us – and we hope that the CD can mean something to each person that listens to it – it doesn’t necessarily have to be the same for each person… (Interview and Photo by Kenneth Morton)
Sleep For Sleepers on Myspace