By Alistair Hume
The fourth and final band of the Jazzy’s Rumble final four contestants is Sleep Dealer. The band is composed of Austin Graves (guitar, vocals), Patrick Swansborough (guitar, vocals), Tyler Huff (bass guitar, vocals), and Alek Wiltbank (drums, vocals). The group burst onto the scene early last year and brought with them a wave of emotional energy that has captivated and inspired.
Alistair Hume: Talk to be about your songwriting process. How does it go both instrumentally and lyrically?
Austin Graves: Lyrically, it’s kind of just like, something happens, I don’t know. Be it just some sort of event that caused, I don’t know. Like just some sort of traumatic event, I guess, since we are an emo band and that’s all emo bands write music about. Then I’ll just sit down and eventually come up with just like a couple lines of a song and just hammer it out. Try and form something out of it. Sometimes it works, and most of the time it doesn’t, and I’ll end up scrapping it and starting over. Sometimes, it’ll take me like eight or nine tries just to get a single stanza for a song. But musically, I just kind of fiddle around on my guitar for a while until I find a riff that I like and then just try and figure out how weird I can actually make that riff. I’ll usually start out with a couple chords and then just throw in a melody that really contrasts with the chords, then scrap the chords, then have both the guitars accent that melody while having I don’t know. I just try to keep both guitars doing something interesting at all times instead of just the simple strumming pattern. Then just from there, I build a melody or harmony in between the guitars.
AH: Well, it certainly works, and I think it’s really cool how there isn’t a lead guitar. It’s like both of them are lead guitar and rhythm guitar.
AG: Yeah, I like to write a lot with point and counterpoint rather then just like having a theme and then another theme. I like the idea of building a soundscape between the instruments rather than just having lead and rhythm guitar. A lot of what I write is because I spent a lot of time studying classical music. And so it’s more to build this broad ambient chord between all the instruments instead of just having one playing chords, one playing melody, and yeah.
Patrick Swainsborough: Yeah, usually Austin will have the chord progression that he’s made and his vocals. It’ll kind of start off not really acoustic but kind of just like really bare like his guitar part and like a vocal line that he has. And then usually, the bass and the drums will usually be one of the first things we figure out. I’ll kind of just jam something that I’m fingering out. And a lot of the time, he’ll just have ways to critique when I’m jamming. He’ll want something phrased a little differently. Or a lot of the times, he’ll have a little kind of basic riff that he wants. But I’ll kind of just play around in the scale and play around in the key and kind of figure out something.
AH: Yeah, that’s awesome. You got a great thing going on.
PS: Yeah, I think it’s really fun. It becomes really cohesive how everything sounds just like, it’s kind of like, it usually either goes like Austin kind of creates something, and it kind of gets filtered through all of the members, or one of the members creates something and it kind of gets filtered through Austin, so everything always goes through everybody else.
AH: Yeah, that’s awesome, because, from what I’ve heard in the past, it’s mostly just been Austin doing the writing by himself.
PS: That was pretty much like our original four songs, in which Austin had just written on guitar and had been singing and had a lot of my parts specifically already written. But he’s always really emphasized, like everything I give you is kind of for you to interpret and play how you would play it. But pretty much like our songs that we’ve written and jammed out since our first four songs that we wrote have been a lot more collaborative. We’ve been writing a lot more of our own parts.
AH: I see. That’s cool. What are your thoughts on the rumble so far? Like this year and your experience.
AG: Honestly, I think this is the best battle of the bands that Jazzy’s has ever seen. Normally in the past, you could tell from the beginning exactly who was going to win just by looking at the bar key. But this year, it’s been incredible to see so many great bands come up out of nothing and bring actual competition. It’s a lot of fun to be playing alongside these guys. I’m thoroughly stoked about it.
PS: And I think it’s going to be a really great show overall. There’s going to be a lot of people. Each band has its own crowd that it can bring, and I think it’s just going to be a really great show overall. It’s going to be really hype.
AH: Well, that’s awesome, because most of these bands are really new. And it’s amazing like how fast they became so good. They’re all just amazing.
AG: It’s because they’re all just incredible musicians. Most of the people in all these bands have been playing music for a long, long time now, and yeah. Whatever they do is golden.
AH: Yeah. That’s very true. Is Sleep Dealer planning anything special or different for the final round? Something you haven’t done before, maybe?
PS: Yeah, we’ve got a few things coming that we’re kind of excited for. Mostly just things we’ve been working on. We’ve been working on having a better stage presence and engaging the crowd more. And I think it’ll be really good. It’ll be refreshing to see us with a little more personality, like between songs. That’s something that we’ve been working on, and I think it’ll definitely make a huge difference. And then there’s also like we’re going to pull out some tricks for sure.
AG: Surprises will be seen.
AH: Patrick, do you think you’ll be singing and screaming more often since you started doing that?
PS: Yeah, we’re already kind of implementing a lot more vocal harmonies. On our EP, when it comes out, when you hear it, I do a lot of vocal harmonies in the clean parts, like in the beginning of “Clocktown” and in our newest song, “The World That Never Was.” That’s kind of where I do the most screaming, just like in that one section of that song. But I have been working a lot more on doing vocal harmonies, and Austin even brought up the idea to all of us the other day about having a song that’s kind of more centered around my vocals where he could just go nuts on guitar.
AH: That’s so exciting. You’re a very unique band.
PS: Yeah, we really like what we’re doing. The hardcore scene has grown again in this area, but it seemed like around when we were starting there wasn’t like as much going on in the heavier music sense. There was a lot more indie stuff going on and some punk shit, but that’s something we all thought we had going for us, just like the energy of a technical hardcore band show. At least, that’s what I really enjoyed about it, super high energy. Everyone was having a good time.
AH: Yeah, for sure. And it seems like from my perception that Sleep Dealer has in a sense been the revival of that scene, kind of. At least locally.
PS: I don’t know, it’s a pretty bold thing to just kind of say, but it does feel really good. Telestial sort of made a comment about that. A lot of the reason that they wanted Jade specifically was trying to put together a band, but something like his idea of wanting to start something a little heavier came from going to really high-energy shows like Sleep Dealer and things like that and kind of just wanting to build that scene more, and I think they’ve done a great job with that as well. Just like getting more kids into that sound and getting more kids out to shows.
AH: Yeah. That’s something I’d agree with. Future plans for Sleep Dealer?
PS: Well, right now, we’re about to release an EP in March, then we’re going to go on tour. Our plan was to get three pretty good-sized tours in this year. We want to tour three times in 2017. Kind of just get like a five-day one that we have scheduled in spring. And then maybe another five-day one in summer, and then we were talking about taking a longer one, like maybe a 10-day tour in late fall.
AG: And from there on, we’re going to maybe try to do at least one week-long tour per season of 2018. And then just try and get our name to other states and other people so that eventually we can just, the dream is to be able to be touring a couple months at a time. But we can’t just do that with the drop of a hat. We’re going to have to work up to it for sure.
PS: So that’s kind of our goal, just to write more music and tour. That’s our plan, and to spread our EP as much as we can.
AH: Yeah for sure, that’s awesome. So what about the recording of the EP? Do you guys know when that’s coming, your first EP or studio release?
AG: Yeah. We’re actually playing a show here with Stocksmile, formerly known as Bobby Meader Music, on March 8, and that will be our EP release party. Mixed, mastered, completed.
AH: Okay. So it is going to have four of your songs, or is it going to have all five that we know of?
AG: It’s going to have four. We actually have six songs right now written. So it’s going to be “Maiq The Liar,” “Clocktown Brewing Company,” “The Great Hollow,” and “Ian’s Song.”
AH: Well, out of the bands that most inspire you or you most admire, who would you love to tour with? Just out of any bands. No matter how famous they are. Or if you could pick off the top of your head, who would that be?
PS: Oh, if I could go on tour with a band? If Sleep Dealer could go on tour with Chon, holy shit, like that would be the dream. I think like that would be way cool. I know Austin’s way into like Pianos, he loves Pianos Become The Teeth. I think that was probably the first band that he brought up to us stylistically that he was trying to get a feel for. Like kind of in a similar vein as them. Maybe Delta Sleep or something. I think if Chon ever stopped in town, Sleep Dealer would have to play that show.
AH: For sure. Just thinking about that makes me want to cry tears of joy. Chon is such an amazing band.
PS: Chon’s amazing. I would definitely like to play a show with Chon.
Catch Sleep Dealer tonight at the final round of the Jazzy’s Rumble with their competitors Telestial, NEVERMIND, and CLEO. The show begins at 7 p.m., and Sleep Dealer will be going on last. Sleep Dealer will also play March 8 with Stocksmile at Jazzy’s where they will release their debut EP, “Please, Reconnect.” You can listen to their single, “M’aiq the Liar,” now at Bandcamp. They are on Facebook and on Instagram and Twitter @sheephealer.