InterviewsSeptember 12, 20099,337 views

Oh, Sleeper interview

By Suzie Lee
On the verge of releasing their sophomore record Son Of The Morning and embarking on a month long tour with Every Time I Die, Bring Me The Horizon, and Architects, Micah Kinard of Oh, Sleeper took some time out to speak with Suzie Lee about the new record, reaching beyond the usual Christian fan base, and the band van playlist.


How are you feeling right now, now that you're releasing a new record and will be hitting the road with Every Time I Die soon?

Um, I guess nervous and excited. It's so nerve wrecking with the second record because with the first one you set a bar and then with the second one you either gotta shoot over that bar and the band gets bigger or you shoot under that bar and the band tanks. (Laughs) And one of the two is going to happen. I guess just sitting there and waiting to see what everyone thinks is just like, "ugh."

With all of the effort that you've been putting into this new record, do you feel like you're going to hit that bar or go over that bar?

Well, personally we all feel like we went way over the bar. Just with how we feel about the music and everything, it being music that we'd actually listen to. I guess when it comes down to it that's what really matters. But really we want our fans, we want the people who bought When I Am God, to buy this and love it.

How have your fans responded to the new material that you've been playing at your shows and released on your MySpace?

So far, so good.

Yeah? That's good.

I haven't really heard any negative feedback yet but that's kind of a scary thing (laughs). We put two songs on MySpace so far, we're about to put up another one, and each of those have been doing really well, as well. So I don't know, I mean we'll see.

So they've responded well to the stuff that you've been playing, do you think they'll respond the same with the entire new CD in that it's a concept album and they'll get to hear it from start to finish?

Yeah, I hope so. The concept is not exactly the most plain and dry "reading a book" concept, you know? You kind of have to look into it, but it's definitely there. The record is not really that long; we didn't really write any super long songs on it. It's a pretty easy listen. I think when someone sits down, if they have the lyrics with them and they read along with it while they're listening to it and really got into it, I think it would definitely translate. But for someone to just pop it in and being like, "Oh check this song out, check this song out, check this song out," they kind of lose the concept a little bit.

What provoked a concept album?

Really, it just kind of came together. I was writing one song and I really, really wanted to theme this one song a certain way. I wanted to write a song that was voiced completely by Satan pretty much, but I didn't want to do that. It's kind of iffy doing that when you're releasing an album on a Christian label. But I really wanted to put a face with that instead of always beating around the bush or just saying "temptation" or just saying "stumbling" or whatever. I really wanted to break it down. So when I wrote that I was like, "Well I'll write one that's completely from his perspective" and if you listen to it away from the album it may seem completely contradictory and almost blasphemous, but if you listen to it in the context of the album it will make 100% sense. When I was writing that one I was like, "Well if I write one in his perspective then I want to write a reply completely from God's perspective." That's kind of how the concept started. I wrote those two songs and then decided to make all the in between songs to be these conversations between God and different people in different parts of their lives and he's just kind of preparing everybody and raising an army almost.

What sets Son Of The Morning apart from When I Am God as far as how you've grown as a band and as musicians?

Well personally I feel like it's just completely different then When I Am God. It was written with an entirely different approach in an entirely different way. We have a new drummer who adds an entirely different feel to it. We approached everything about it completely different then When I Am God. For example, we wrote it completely on a program called TabIt, which is a midi file program…

Yeah I've seen it.

Yeah, exactly. We wrote the entire new album with our new drummer, who at the time lived in California, so we wrote it all through emails pretty much. He flew in a week before we left to record and we played the songs together for the first time and then we went and recorded them. All of the lyrics were written to these TabIt files which basically sounded like video games so we didn't ever really know exactly how it was going to sound until we were actually recording it. Writing it in TabIt also gave us the opportunity to really look at the songs as a whole and really dissect things and make sure everything made sense and there weren't any nonsensical breakdowns thrown in just to have them or anything like that. Also with When I Am God it was a lot more experimental and just kind of going through and writing exactly what we wanted like, "Oh let's put a crazy heavy part right here," and "Oh let's do the vocal break right here. Let's do this and this." With the new album it was more like we took this whole last touring cycle, this whole last album cycle and touring year, and just kind of gauged crowd responses on the different songs. From talking to our fans and everything like that, really just trying to hear and soak up what they like about the album and then try to turn around and write a whole album of stuff that we heard that they liked. Which was really fun and exciting and challenging; because it turned out to be something we like even more than When I Am God too. Even further, our drummer Matt has a totally different style then Ryan and brings a new element to the table that's really morphed the sound as well. So it's definitely a whole new album, completely.

His drumming sounds a little more technical. I want to say I heard a polyrhythm in one of your new songs. How do you feel about polyrhythms?

Oh I love them! But yeah, there are polyrhythms all throughout the new album. Yeah, he's definitely more technical. With polyrhythms the reason we threw those in there was because wanted to make it more technical but at the same time we want someone to be able to pop it in and kind of bob their head to the entire thing. Even though they may not really know what's going on at all, they can still feel it. When I Am God kind of lost that, it really just kind of went on a huge tangent and stuff that were really kind of hard to follow.

Do you feel like Son Of The Morning is more natural to you guys musically?

Yeah, I think so. It's not even my favorite song on the album but it feels more like a complete song.

What is your favorite song on the album?

Well, I guess I'd be kind of torn because mine bases a lot off the lyrics but I really like In All Honesty, which is the track that we have guest vocals from Cody Bonnet (As Cities Burn) on; I love that track. Also, The Finisher is one of my favorites. It's hard to pick a favorite actually. It may sound vain but it's still kind of in the exciting, "oh we just recorded this record, it's finally done, it's very exciting and everything." I'm sure a month from now I'll have a definite favorite.

It's good to hear that you're excited about this record; it means you guys put a lot of time, energy, and heart into it.

Definitely, you want to write something that you can stand behind 100%. Personally we all feel like there wasn't anything we could've done better. If people don't like it and if it doesn't catch on and people don't think it's better than When I Am God then we're all going to honestly be able to say, "Ok, well we don't know what's cool then," (Laughs) "That was our try."

Do you guys want to be a "cool" band?

Well, no. The fans that we have right now, the ones who write us encouraging emails, the ones who come to shows and just lift us up and everything, that's really what this is about for us. We all have solo projects so we whatever we want whenever we want but Oh, Sleeper is now more about this kind of community that we have through these people who are connected to the music. Our biggest deal is that we don't want to disappoint them.

I'm assuming that you guys must get some sort of criticism for being so outspoken, lyrically and personally, about your faith and I've noticed that you guys also get a lot of praise for it as well. Some people like Oh, Sleeper because you are a Christian band and others may like your music but are turned off by the message. Stepping between the lines of music and religion, how do you feel or what are your perspectives on fans that are not Christians and what are your thoughts about that component of your music?

It's weird because some of the most encouraging emails I've gotten are from people who've written me an email like, "Hey man, I don't believe in your God but, I just want to let you know that I was reading these lyrics and they've really helped me out through this time in my life and I just want to say thank you for that." And I was like, "Wow!" It blew me away and that was awesome. I definitely understand if someone doesn't want to hear about being Christian and doesn't want to hear about God and why it would turn them off from the music. I don't get offended at that at all. Sometimes when I listen to music, if it starts getting super political or something like that I'm like, "Oh God." So I know where it's coming from and really all we're doing is being honest with it.

If I'm going to sit down and put my entire heart into something then it's gotta be something that I can stand behind and believe in, it's gonna be a big piece of me. So it's really just us being honest with ourselves at the same time we never want it to be a gimmick. We were actually really hesitant about signing to Solid State at first because we didn't want to be pigeon-holed and we didn't want to get, "Oh it's just another Christian band" or whatever, you know? No, if you're not a Christian and you don't believe in God we still want you to listen to the music, maybe you'll like the music. Maybe you'll want to come out and hangout with us at a show or something, or come and tell us why you're not a Christian. If something pisses you off about the music, let us know, but don't just be judgmental. For all the people who just hear, "Oh, they're a Christian band," and [say], "I'm not listening to that, its trash. We don't need another one of those." They're being just as close minded and judgmental as the Christians who burn them. We want to welcome anybody. We have friends who are Christians, friends who are not Christians, fans who are Christians, fans who are not Christians, fans who are completely Atheists and I appreciate having all of them be a part of this. I'd like it if more people would just give it a chance.

I hear that you're not a preachy band when you get up on stage; why do you feel other Christian bands feel obligated to say something to their audience?

It's not really for me to say and anything I would have to say about that would just be my opinion. For us the reason why we don't is [because] we know ourselves and we know human flaw and how anything can become common place. If I'm going to speak about my relationship with God from stage, I don't want it to be rehearsed and planned like, "Let's play three songs and then we'll take a two minute break and in that two minute break I'm gonna take a sip of water and then tell everyone about God, and then we'll go into this song, and then we'll end with this breakdown." It's a little too formulated for me and if I were doing that I would definitely get into a routine of not really being as connected. So instead, I'll just pray before a show and be like, "Ok God, if you want me to say anything just open the opportunity up for me and I'll do it, if not then I'll know that you're speaking through the music instead." The music has also been completely showered in prayer and everything. Music is so incredible, you can listen to something that has absolutely no lyrics and it can pick you up, it can lift you up, it can fuel you, it can pump you up, or it can make you so sad, it's crazy how much music itself can speak to you. If everything I'm saying in the lyrics, and we have a lot of lyrics, if everything I'm saying in the lyrics is about my personal relationship with God and then all of the music is being played with that in mind, there's already a lot being said from stage. I don't really see much of a need to stop everything and to call out people in the crowd who are still questioning.

But like I said, that's just what we've found works for us. There are bands out there who preach from stage a lot and actually have almost sermons in their sets and everything, you know, I just try to stay open minded about it. I'm sure it's definitely reaching some people and I'm sure that it helps and everything but it's not really for us. We'd rather someone like the music, hear us from stage, look into in their own time, read the lyrics, and then come to our show and ask me questions. That sets up a much more personal level to talk with somebody. I want to share my heart; I don't want to have a one minute thirty second time limit on it. I want to be like, "This is what this means to me. What does it mean to you?" and they'll be like, "I don't believe in your God, I don't believe in anything you just said. But, this is what it means to me," and I'll be like, "Awesome!" (Laughs) I never want to be a disconnected band, I always want to be out after a show's over I always want to be out to talk to people if anyone wants to talk. Whenever you hear a story that someone's actually pouring out to you telling you that the music's changed their life and they're a better person now because of it, it changes your life. It totally gives you a new fuel, a new passion, and just charges you up for the next day. I couldn't imagine doing this without having those opportunities.

What do you have planned after this tour with Every Time I Die?

Well, right now it looks like we're doing a co-headliner with the Chariot and I think We Came As Romans is on that tour as well. On this last tour that we did we really got time to bro down with them and connect, and hit it off. So that's going to be really fun and exciting. It's been awhile since we've done a co-headlining set so it'll be cool to have production and have a good amount of time on stage. We're excited about that. Then after that, I'm not really sure what all I can say about this, but there's a Bleeding Through headliner in Europe that we're set up for.

Have you guys ever been to Europe before?

We went to the UK with UnderOath but we haven't been to all of Europe yet so we're really stoked about that.

Do you know of any other bands on that tour or just Bleeding Through?

I heard Bury Your Dead.

So that's going to be a pretty big tour then.

Yeah, I think so, Bleeding Through, Bury Your Dead, us, and some other band. I haven't heard of the opening band yet. There's a lot to be excited about. Also, Every Time I Die is one of my favorite bands; I've listened to them for awhile, so to on tour with them is pretty special for me personally. The next three tours we have lined up is really exciting for us, we're really stoked!

Awesome. I'm going to try to wrap this up as well as I can so just a few closing questions: What latest releases have or will you be picking up?

The new Thrice album just came out; I need to go buy that. I've heard it's amazing. Let's see… (laughs) this is definitely not metal but I heard Third Eye Blind is coming out with a new CD…

No way!

(Laughs) I freakin love Third Eye Blind so I'll be picking that up.

The 90's are coming back!

I hope so! And then, uh, I haven't really looked at anything that's coming out lately, those are the two that caught my eye. Oh and Every Time I Die's new album is coming out. Those are my top three.

So, I recently went on a road trip, I'm from Minnesota and we went to New York, and I could not listen to metal, which is hard to do because I'm a really big fan of metal and hardcore, but I couldn't listen to metal on the entire trip. I can't imagine being on tour, playing with heavy bands, and listening to metal all the time. Besides jamming out to Hellogoodbye (see studio update video #2), what else do you listen to on tour?

Oh god, this is totally going to throw me under the bus! Well, especially with a tour we just came off of (Scream the Prayer tour) it's like ten metal/hardcore bands so it's like twelve hours of your day is spent listening to that and when you get in the van that's like the last thing you want to hear. A van favorite is, something I can put on and no one's going to complain about, is Sarah Mclachlan. (Laughs)

That's surprising!

Yeah, but me personally when I'm driving, I love Ryan Adams. Matt and I are the only ones in the band who really actually listen to metal and hardcore and anything like that. I'll listen to Meshuggah and Dillinger Escape Plan, we all really love Nine Inch Nails, Deftones we'll put on Deftones' records all day. I know no one complains about Third Eye Blind. My favorite band is Counting Crows so I'll definitely listen to that. But it's weird, everyone but Matt and I listen to country all the time, so there's always country being played. I can't stand country so I always put in my Ipod whenever that comes on. (laughs)

I would never guess that you guys listen to country.

Oh yeah, (laughs) these guys are into it. Shane's a big John Mayer fan so that will be played also. If you got in and rode to a show with us you'd definitely never guess what band we were in (laughs) because it's all so random.

At the end of the day what do you hope to accomplish with Oh, Sleeper, or what has happened that has made you feel accomplished with your band?

I know we all have different personal goals, like everyone would like to tour the world and everything. That's just stuff that you dream about when you start a band. I think what would really be success in my eyes is, like that email that I told you we got, and meeting people who say that they've been affected so positively by the music. At the end of the day, five to ten years from now no one is going to remember, "Oh yeah, Oh, Sleeper did a UK tour with UnderOath." They're going to remember if the music touched them, if they were about to commit suicide if they decided not to and if it was there to help them through a divorce, a bad breakup or anything like that. My goal with Oh, Sleeper would be to just put out albums that constantly connect with people who are willing to dive into it, music that help them claim victories for their own lives. I think the next step is, wanting to meet more and more people. I'd love to sit down with a kid from Japan and hear about how it's affected them, you know? (laughs) I just want to get it out to everybody. I've definitely accepted the fact that if you're in this business for the money, you're a complete idiot because I've made more money working at Ihop (laughs). For me doing stuff like that, seeing it reach more and more people, there's always number goals and album sales goals, but really if you want to talk about real success that's actually going to last in my head, I guess just those talks and stuff.

That's all I've got, do you have any last words?

Go pick up the album and see what you think!


12 comments

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anonymous 9/12/2009 9:05:16 PM

pretty horrible and generic questions


anonymous 9/12/2009 9:06:34 PM

these types of bands still exist?


xote_ 9/12/2009 9:11:46 PM

shit stupid band


Idiots_ 9/12/2009 9:24:52 PM

"I wanted to write a song that was voiced completely by Satan pretty much...I really wanted to put a face with that instead of always beating around the bush or just saying 'temptation' or just saying 'stumbling' or whatever." Well, if you are intelligent, you could read Paradise Lost.


vegard_ 9/12/2009 10:03:36 PM

so...how much did lambgoat get for posting this "interview"?


chomp_ 9/13/2009 5:18:34 AM

hmmm...


OhGod,theinterview_ 9/13/2009 8:18:14 AM

why god, why jesus christ of latter day saints did lambgoat post this blasphemous interview?


dwerp_ 9/13/2009 11:32:44 AM

bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro down bro downbro down bro down bro down bro down


the 90's were shit_ 9/14/2009 8:47:17 AM

never heard this band... just skimmed through this interview. dude has the worst taste in music ever. 3rd eye blind? really??? counting crows is your favorite band?? what a loser.


fart_cloud_ 9/14/2009 10:19:53 AM

"3rd eye blind? really??? counting crows is your favorite band?? what a loser." Shut the f*ck up and go back to your illegally downloaded Emmure discography, you damn 3rd grader.


cloud_fart_ 9/14/2009 5:08:22 PM

I'm sorry that you're butt-hurt that counting crows isn't any good and 3rd eye blind are worse. it's not my fault you have no taste and no sense. i have no idea who emmure is but im willing to bet a lot money that they are just as bad but probably a lot poorer. you lose too nerd.


Shag Nugget_ 5/18/2010 9:40:26 AM

Both of you STFU.