Interview: sleepmakeswaves

sleepmakeswaves have had an absolutely MONSTER year so far. A highly successful album release that saw them raise over $45,000 in pre-orders to fund the record, a record that hit #15 on the ARIA Chart (and a No.1 position on the 100% Independent Chart) improving on both positions from it's critically-acclaimed predecessor; 'Tundra' getting a full rotation addition to triple j's playlist and tonnes of spins on community and international radio, an AIR Award Nomination as well as racking up a nomination for Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Album at the upcoming 2017 ARIA Awards, not to mention all the touring. Despite being so busy, Tomina Vincent was able to pull guitarist Otto Wicks-Green aside for a chat about the amazing year that this exceptional Australian band have had.

Thanks for taking the time to speak to Insert Review Here! It’s been a massive year for sleepmakeswaves, how are you guys feeling?

Hello! We got off the road in Europe about 2 weeks ago now so I'm feeling pretty good and just about ready to play a few more rock shows to see this year out. I can't speak for the other guys. I'm seeing them this Friday and maybe they'll be over it.

What’s the story behind sleepmakeswaves? How did the band form?

Combination of MySpace, University friends, and a pocketful of dreams. 2006... What a time.

Tell us a little bit about your involvement with Twenty10 and how your marriage equality initiative came together.

We were upset and angry on behalf of our LGBTI friends and family when it became clear that a no-brainer like marriage equality was going to be decided by an expensive, divisive and harmful plebiscite, and wanted to do something to materially support the LGBTI community in Australia. We came up with this rainbow version of our logo and after some interest in printing it as a shirt we decided we'd donate all the profits to a worthwhile charity in that space. We came across Twenty10 after some discussions with friends in the community and were so impressed by their commitment to providing tangible and practical support for LGBTI youths doing it tough. We think they're doing wonderful work and were stoked to be able to donate what we could to them with the help of our fans. As it turns out, as I'm writing, the YES vote has just won in a landslide, which is wonderful news.

*You can purchase the 'Rainbow Logo' shirt from their Bandcamp page.

Your latest album 'Made Of Breath Only' showed a new side of sleepmakeswaves, a broader sound. Where do you start when writing a record? Was your process any different this time around?

Every album is different and demands different aspects of your abilities as songwriters and musicians and humans. We started writing Made Of Breath Only in early 2016 and it took a year to form out all of the ideas. We knew we wanted to write something proggier and more expansive, drawing inspiration from the antarctic and arctic as a conceptual starting point. It was a challenging record at times, but we are proud of the result and see it as a strong and unique part of the sleepmakeswaves output.

Are there any particular artists that influenced the musical direction of the new record?

It wasn't so much musical influences from which we drew inspiration, more this geographical metaphor of fragility and hostility co-existing, and trying to draw out themes and ideas from this. I suppose I've always really admired the way bands like ISIS and Mastodon have written conceptual albums that hang together incredibly cohesively without appearing overwrought.

sleepmakeswaves has managed to break down the barrier between post-rock and the wider public. Instrumental music seems to have its own language that is quite universal, but it has always been somewhat underground. Was it surprising to you when so many people jumped on board with Love of Cartography?

To be honest, yeah it was! It was rad to have that record have such a big impact and really unlock a lot of new opportunities for this band, especially since from our perspective we didn't set out to do anything drastically different with the writing. It was very rewarding to have a bunch of new folks jump on and start coming to shows and enjoying what we do. We feed off the energy and enthusiasm of our crowds.

What has been your proudest moment as a band? Have you ever stepped back and thought, we’re doing great right now?

Aside from some hectic and unexpected award nominations, getting to meet and tour with some of my musical heroes has been a hell of a trip, and one that still blows my mind sometimes. I've never really sat back and felt that - being an artist in Australia means constantly striving for security and the next opportunity. It's very hard to rest on any laurels when your rent is due in a week.

What are some of your favourite Australian artists at the moment?

I've always loved the Paper Kites and Luca Brasi. I'm digging new material from Georgia Reed and Mere Women. But in terms of pure punk-rock authenticity and songwriting chops Camp Cope never cease to amaze me - no doubt one of our hardest working and most dedicated rock bands.

You have toured quite extensively over the last few years, and you’re about to head out on tour with Rosetta in December. What can fans expect from these shows?

The last few years have been focused on stepping up the shows every time in terms of production and venue size. We wanted to do the opposite with these shows and re-capture something from our origins - smaller, more intimate rooms and a crushingly heavy lineup. This will be a beautiful, intimate wall of noise, and we're looking forward to the visceral nature of performing amongst a crowd, with very little separation.

Lastly, what’s next for Sleepmakeswaves? Any plans for 2018?

Next year we want to step up our video content and release some artistic visual collaborations. We're still looking at some touring opportunities, but after like 8 separate tours this year I think we may even take a bit of time off.

Written by Tomina Vincent

Catch sleepmakeswaves and Rosetta this December.

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