Sleepwalker (above) will release their debut EP and play 123 Pleasant Street Saturday night
photo: Andy Pickens
Having covered West Virginia bands for a few years at this point, the neatest thing is seeing new bands form quite organically out of bands that just naturally seem to run their course. Such seems to be the case with the new Morgantown-based band Sleepwalker.
Comprised of members of bands like Death Virginia, Mega Touch, Big Ass Manatee, Nirvana 2, Rifle Camp, and David Bello Band, the band (Tyler Grady: vocals/guitars; David F. Bello: vocals/guitar; Jason McCarty: guitar/vocals; Will Foreman: bass/vocals; Pat Manzi: percussion) is set to release their debut EP The Dark One digitally Saturday night, coinciding with their show at 123 Pleasant Street with Pat Pat and High Fives and Hell Yeahs.
We caught up with Grady and Bello to learn more about the band, the EP, and how post-apocalyptic tossed salad metaphors totally apply to Sleepwalker...
WVRockscene: You guys haven’t been together for very long at all -- your first show was back in June -- but are each veterans of more than a few Magic Town bands, what’s it been like being in a new project like Sleepwalker?
Tyler Grady: It’s really exciting forming a band out of your friends. It’s even more exciting when everyone comes into a project knowing what kind of role they’d like to fill, and having the chops to back up that role.
David F. Bello: It’s great, we didn’t have to spend a lot of time really on normal “Well we’re in a band, what do we do now?” type of things, we kind of just ran with it since we all know what we’re doing and we’ve all been friends for a long time.
WVRockscene: People who even casually follow Morgantown area acts will be familiar with the bands you’ve been in/come from. Following up on that last question, and segueing into the next one, what were some of the best parts of bringing in everyone’s own contributions into Sleepwalker? These bands you come from have a pretty diverse range it seems like, how special or unique do you think Sleepwalker’s sound is up Magic Town way?
DFB: I think it’s pretty unique. I think we each do a good job of making it a tossed salad kind of thing where we know what to do to mix our sounds together and have it sound good as a whole but if somebody wants to really pick it apart they’ll find our individual styles in there as well. Plus the tossed salad thing will be good for when we all eventually end up in federal prison for one thing or another.
Grady: I agree with David. We are lucky in the sense that each of our tastes individually lends themselves cohesively to toss our salad. As for how unique we are, I don’t really think there is another band in town that sounds quite like we do, but it seems like the general lack of bands has a lot to do with that
WVRockscene: Obviously you guys will have known each other for a while, (123’s LJ Giuliani is quoted on Sleepwalker’s Facebook page as saying you’re “a who’s who of the late night drinking circuit,”) how did the idea to get together as Sleepwalker slowly congeal and the band form?
DFB: Haha that quote is one of my proudest moments. We all do certainly drink a lot. We got together in a Mad Max kind of way -- I think Tyler will appreciate that connection. A lot of the people in our other projects recently left town, so in the midst of this wasteland we forged weapons and found a practice space. It worked out really conveniently because even before the other bands were kind of coming to an end, we were all kind of thinking of playing music together anyway.
Grady: On the record: Mad Max (the original) is my all-time favorite movie. As for how the band came together, the very beginning of it forming, for me, was seeing David play for the first time. I knew right away that I wanted to be in a band with that guy. I’ve always enjoyed playing with Pat [Manzi] too.
WVRockscene: It appears that to some extent you both share singing, what about songwriting? You guys being friends, what's the chemistry like just jamming and arranging tunes?
Grady: We still haven’t written a song from scratch together yet. We certainly have different writing styles, but I don’t think it would affect anything for when we do finally writing something as a cooperative. As far as jamming goes, we’ve always had fun jamming together. We have a fake/real “noise” band that we put together a long time ago as kind of a fuck you to the idea of jamming. It’s awful. Intentionally. I can’t say anything but this is our band when it comes to who has more creative control. We each pull our weight and work well together when one of us introduces a song. It’s kind of a Guy/Ian relationship. We both love Fugazi too. That has nothing to do with anything.
DFB: We definitely share things equally.
WVRockscene: You two made appearances in Ryan Hizer’s video for “Pushover,” how fun was that and was there any perks involved?
DFB: Jason [McCarty] is in it too, but just for a second and he’s got his hands over his ears. It was super fun. The guy who made it, Geoff Hoskinson had us all over to his killer office space with an outdoor deck and Pittsburgh beer on tap and basically let us all get in front of a nice camera and make funny faces. We got to listen to “Pushover” all day, which was really cool. Also, we’re all affiliated with Garbage Days who put out the Good Sport record and is working with me on a bunch of stuff, so it was good to work on something for that whole deal.
Grady: The video shoot was a great time. There were a lot of funny things that didn’t make the final cut. There was a scene that Adam [Meisterhans] was in where he was texting on his cell phone and then was pulled out of the frame. It doesn’t sound as funny as it was. Believe me, it was.
WVRockscene: Hizer mixed the EP, which was recorded by The Demon Beat’s Adam Meisterhans, aside from the songs, and how the band and the songs came together, from Meisterhans to Hizer to Klug for mastering, how proud are you of the final product?
DFB: Man I am so proud of it. Those guys all did an amazing job the whole way through. It was awesome getting Adam up here for a weekend to record the whole thing and it was great that we were able to get our friends to work on this and do an amazing job with our sound.
WVRockscene: Will there be physical copies of “The Dark One” available at 123 Saturday or just on the bandcamp page?
DFB: Just the bandcamp page for now, and it’s on a pay-what-you-want setting. We’re going to press a 7” fairly soon, hopefully using the money we make from the bandcamp release and any shows we have coming up.
WVRockscene: I did see that this Saturday is the 123 13th anniversary show. It’s always seemed like a nice supportive college town atmosphere up there. Whether school is in or not, what’s it like for bands up there? Obviously having a bunch of college age kids coming out to see your band is a plus, but having “seen the scene” over the past 10 or so years how much of a plus is it being a band in Morgantown these days?
DFB: It’s always been great for me. It’s how I’ve made most of my friends in town and everybody I’ve ever dealt with in the music scene is super friendly. I wish there were more young bands in town, though. We’re old. We’re still cool! I SWEAR. But we’re old, and more people younger than us should be in bands, imho.
Grady: the Morgantown music scene has always been important to me. I grew up in the Eastern panhandle and there was really no music scene there at all. We would drive to Cumberland (30 miles) just to see a local show that was mediocre at best. Then some of my friend’s siblings started going to college at WVU and we would sneak out to Morgantown to party with the college kids. That’s where I discovered 123 -- and whip-its.
We would say we were going to Cumberland and drive to Morgantown shows and get drunk in the car. It was really formative, haha.
The party was always centered around the music, and the music at that time was much more abundant. I would really like to see more of that attitude. Certainly I don’t endorse that kind of irresponsibility, but I can endorse doing whatever is necessary to get to the music you want to see. I didn’t play on the stage at 123 until I had been coming there for many years, but when I did it was so satisfying because I had loved that place so much
WVRockscene: So you’ll get the debut EP out, play some shows, what’s up for the rest of the year? Plans to record a full-length? Anything special?
DFB: No concrete plans yet to do a full-length but I think in a year or so’s time we’ll have enough cooked up for that. We want to put out that 7” with songs from the EP, possibly go on a tour of the east coast.
WVRockscene: Bands form, break up and form new bands over time. Sleepwalker’s story is no different, obviously. Being veterans of the Magic Town scene, seeing bands kind of come and go, bands you might even have been in, how excited are you for the near future to be in Sleepwalker?
DFB: I am really excited. We’re either going to last forever or explode in our van.
--- Sleepwalker plays 123 Pleasant Street Saturday night with Pat Pat and High Fives and Hell Yeahs for 123’s 13th anniversary show.
Sleepwalker will release their debut EP The Dark One on a pay-what-you-can basis on their bandcamp page Saturday.