In a “world full of extraneous noise” Sleepies’ crashing distorted pop punk distinguishes itself with its wit, melody, and an adherance to real sturdily structured rock songs. This week,’s Drew Citron talked to Sleepies, fresh off their “Chicken Fried Steak” tour through Texas, about their dead idols, dream lineups, and what in the hell their EP Join The Shark is all about. Catch Sleepies at Dead Herring on October 24, or at Le Poisson Rouge with Pissed Jeans and Awesome Color on October 30. Who is your greatest deceased idol?

Josh: Thankfully I haven’t personally known many people who have died (knock on wood) so I don’t have an easy answer for this. Somewhat Serious answer: Joe Strummer. Not so serious answer: Donnie from The Big Lebowski. Poor guy was just out of his element.

Max: I’m pretty lucky in that the vast majority of my idols are still living (Billy Bragg, Kathleen Hanna, Donna Haraway, etc.), so I suppose I’ll go with the first deceased idol, that being Kurt Cobain. He can get discounted sometimes, but that’s someone whose influence on me ends up meaning something different and taking new shapes with every new life stage. Like, at ten, he was the reason to pick up the guitar and make rude sounds. At seventeen, to dig up some Beat Happening, Wipers and Raincoats records. At 24, to have a self-conscious understanding of the ridiculous performative aspect of “punk rock” and to maybe try to make interventions to change it.

Thomas: I’m gonna have to go with Carl Sagan, hands down. Not to get overly serious or anything, but that dude had things figured out. His series Cosmos should be required viewing for anyone with a pulse. If I had to pick someone music related, I’d go with Lester Bangs.
In a world full of extraneous noise, where does noisy music fit in?

Josh: So much of the “indie rock” I hear now is just stuff I know I’m gonna be hearing on “Adult Contemporary” radio stations five years from now (assuming the radio still exists in five years). It’s nice to have some fun and feel like a kid once in a while. Just because we’re fast, noisy and you can’t really understand our lyrics doesn’t mean there aren’t catchy songs you can dance to in there. I’m just not ready to be a grown-up quite yet.

Max: While I think it’s important to play dirty, and with some kind of reckless abandon (and I like Josh’s point about indie rock unveiling itself as adult contemporary at heart…I shouldn’t talk shit, but I can’t differentiate between the Arcade Fire and Coldplay, personally. Or between Vampire Weekend and Phil Collins, for that matter), I am highly suspicious of bands that abandon tunes entirely for indecipherable sludge or bleat. That is, the noisiest, loudest band that I totally love is Tragedy, and yet, they also write some of the best and – most importantly – catchiest straight up hooks I’ve ever heard.  Music – especially punk rock – is a social medium, and if you can’t sing/scream/yell along, you’ve somehow missed the point.

Thomas: I can’t really take any sort of stand on music in terms of noise/volume. Quiet music can be super irritating because it reminds me of elevators, dental offices and my feelings, which is why I like loud punk bands. On the other hand, Young Marble Giants are one of my favorite bands and they are: a) pretty much the quietest punk band ever, and b) better than 90% of loud bands. If punk rock was dying, who inflated the life raft?

Josh: I feel like a lot of punk’s recent resurgence can be traced to the low-fi bands that have gotten really popular. When you listen to bands like No Age, Jay Reatard, Wavves, etc. (all of whom I love), they’re pretty much straight pop punk songs a la Blink 182 with an added layer of feedback and distortion. That’s certainly not a bad thing. I think it’s going to become more and more apparent that all the kids our age spent many a summer at the Warped Tour even if some of us are too embarrassed to admit it now.

Max: Like, who saved it? We all save it, on the daily: people who set up shows, put out records, write zines, do other projects using punk resources and infrastructure (see: The Icarus Project, Food Not Bombs, etc)… as long as “the kids” keep “doing it,” we’ve got a shot, I think.

Thomas: If you look at how many people show up to see Mika Miko or Times New Viking I’d say the raft is in ok shape. When “punk” bands like this establish a big following among the Pitchfork faithful, they get folded into the “underground” or “indie-rock” category and the issue of “punkness” kind of disappears. But I guess it depends on who you talk to.  If you went to some crusty old 70s punk and told him Wavves was your favorite punk band he’d probably punch you in the throat. The whole DIY thing is what I think is most important, and that idea seems to be flourishing in a lot of ways, house shows, home/cheap as dirt recordings, cassette tapes,  zines, etc…

What is Sleepies’ dream venue? Dream tour lineup?

Josh: I really like playing house shows and unconventional venues. I wanna play in kitchens, laundromats, boxing rings…whatever we can get. As far as a dream tour lineup? It would have to include Fugazi mostly because it kills me that I never got to see them. I’d also want to take our buddies, Leg Sweeper from Texas. Being stuck in a car with them for days was painfully fun. Finish it off with Jawbreaker and I’m never coming home.

Max: More than anything, I want Sleepies to play Gilman Street. Not because of any kind of mythical value (it doesn’t have any for me anymore, really), but just because it is a place that I grew up seeing and playing the best fucking shows ever, and it is the platonic ideal of an all ages space.  Other than that, house shows are the way to go, hands down. In terms of a tour lineup, I would agree with Josh and say get Legsweeper up in that shit, but then I’m gonna go for a early ’00s west coast nostalgia trip: Holy Ghost Revival, This is My Fist!, The Ovens, Tulsa, and the Abi Yoyos.

Thomas: I think Bob Dylan did a tour where he only played at Minor League baseball stadiums, so something along those lines might be kinda cool. I really just want to play in California. I would love to play at this place where I used to see shows in high school called The Outhouse. Unfortunately I read it recently shut down because too many band dudes were creeping on underage girls. Max actually did play there in high school, but I’m sure he was a total gentleman. As for a tour lineup I’d bring: NOFX, The Urinals, and our Texas friends Leg Sweeper. I think it’d also be a good idea if David Cross came. How was Texas? Do people with accents rock harder?

Josh: Texas might have been the most fun I’ve ever had. I think we all were way overdue for a little time away from the city so it was nice to get away from a lot of the negativity that seems to exist here. It was our first tour and people showed up at every show, seemed genuinely excited to watch every set and couldn’t have been any sweeter to us. I think a big reason the trip was so successful was because the lineup was so killer. We played every date with Muhhamadali and Leg Sweeper and they’re two of the best bands I’ve seen in a very long time. The whole thing was just really reinvigorating.

Max: Texas blew me away. Living in New York is designed to do two things, primarily: i.) make you think that it’s the only place you can ever live, and ii.) make you fundamentally distrustful of other human beings. In light of that, the Texas trip disproved both of those ridiculous presumptions: every show was better, more positive, and more enthusiastically received than any given show we’ve played in NY, and we always had gas money and a place to stay.  Huge thanks to everyone who made that happen, you are our heroes, and we can’t wait to come back.

Thomas: We had a blast! I think Texas gets a bad rap sometimes, but it really is just full of the sweetest people and the most delicious chicken-fried meats. We had the best possible tour-mates in Leg Sweeper and Muhammadali. They definitely made sure we had fun and never ran out of beer and tacos. The only really odd moment was at a bar in Austin when some guy came over to our table and started explaining his theory about Earth being “the beach of the universe.”
What’s new with Sleepies? Tour? Recording? Family getaway?

Josh: We’re hopefully recording a full-length album in January with our friend, Ben Greenberg, who also did our EP. I’m really happy with how the EP turned out but it’ll be nice to spend a little more time with this next one and come away with something super fleshed out. In May we’re playing this new two-day festival in Wilmington, North Carolina called “Rad Fest.” That should be a lot of fun because as well as a bunch of other great bands, Leatherface is playing. And then next summer, hopefully a west coast tour. We’re trying to keep ourselves pretty busy.

Max: Just released a split cassette with a mysterious, shadowy organization known only as Old Testament Heroes through our own “label” (hah!), Doom Song.

Thomas: It’s come to our attention recently that we have two (2) fans in Germany (or at least we’ve received myspace messages alleging the existence of these fans) so I’d love to stow away on an industrial freighter and do a European tour one of these days.
Talk about this upcoming Le Poisson Rouge show. [Oct 30 With Pissed Jeans and Awesome Color]

Josh: The coolest thing was that it came about because somebody had seen us seen us play in the past and thought that we were good enough to be invited to a big kid’s show. It’ll be crazy to play on a stage with lights and everything. Usually we just set up on the floor. Halloween activities are always a good time and we’ve got silly costumes picked out so, yeah, I’m pretty into it.

October 30th with My Mind, Ex-Wife, DrunkDriver, Awesome Color and Pissed Jeans. To be honest, when I first heard that NYU Program Board wanted us to play, I thought it was, like, an alumni mailing list pity booking or something!  But it turns out they had no idea any of us had gone there, and had seen us play at this wonderful venue in Bushwick called the Glass Door, with the equally wonderful bands Ex-Wife (who also got on the LPR show), Grocery Thief, and Michael Jordan.  So, we’re kinda Miss Congeniality on this one: just happy to be here. All the bands playing totally fucking rip, and I’m looking forward to seeing them all rock the halloween covers.

I’ve never been to the venue before, but Josh read on their website that they have operas there so I’m sure will be the classiest show we’ve ever done. I’m still afraid that when we show up the NYU goon squad is gonna jump out from the shadows and demand our student loan payments. Who is this shark, and how do we join?

Josh: The shark was just me trying to be clever. You can join it by buying cds, shirts, or simply making donations. BUSINESS.

Max: That phrase (weirdly) holds a lot of meaning for me.  The whole lyric, which the title comes from, is “jump the scene, join the shark,: which seems to indicate a lack of fear of doing something embarrassing, for which you will end up hemorrhaging ‘scene points’…like being in a pop punk band well into your mid-twenties, for instance, without any tape loops or extra performers which might let you hide behind the ‘art project’ banner.

Thomas: He’s new from Ronco, and you can join for six easy payments of $39.95. If Sleepies were the cast of a movie, what movie would it be and why?

Josh: Sleepies would be a rag tag bunch of misfits put together to challenge the perennial champions of a pee-wee football league. We’d get off to a slow start and nobody would think we could do it but we’d vow to prove them wrong. Our surly, alcoholic coach (played by Edward James Olmos) would pick us up when we were down and in the process learn that his own life was worth living. In the end, it wouldn’t matter if we won or lost the big game because we’d have learned something about winning, about friendship, and most of all, we’d have learned something about ourselves. Inspired yet? I think that sentiment sums up our band pretty well.

Max: I think, personality-wise, we might map onto the Ghostbusters in some way.

Yeah, Josh pretty much nailed this one. The only thing I would add would be some sort of John Madden cameo, probably a scene involving him eating lots of chicken wings. Also, I’d somehow like to incorporate the “Annexation of Puerto Rico.”
Faust test: for whose musical chops would you sell your soul?

I’d sell my soul for Max’s chops but only if his baby blue eyes came as part of the deal.

Max: Under normal circumstances, I have no use for chops or anything like that, BUT: if I could play one, JUST ONE, j mascis guitar solo, that’d be pretty neat.

Thomas: Ian MacKaye (so we could play “Arpeggiator” together) or Stuart Moxham from Young Marble Giants. Anything else you would like to add about Sleepies, that Jezebel Music readers should know?

Josh: We’re just nice kids who show up on time and don’t want to cause any trouble.

by Drew Citron

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