Australian band Sleepmakeswaves is on the scene for more than a decade and the goal for another decade is clear: Take post rock into even further directions. Since their formation, they managed to take every release one step further with sophisticated arrangements, top quality production and experiments with electronics. Their latest album Made of Breath Only is a product of a long term line-up and clear artistic vision. It was an honor to catch bass player Alex Wilson on the phone in the early stages of their European tour with The Physics House Band and Vasudeva. Czech fans, check them out on Monday 16th of October in Prague, club Modrá Vopice.
Full audio here:
First of all, I would like to thank you for coming to Prague two years ago with Skyharbor from India and Tides From Nebula for Poland. I’m not exaggerating by saying, it was one of the best shows I have ever seen in my life.
Thank you very much. That’s a really nice thing to say. We are really glad that we could come back on that tour to Prague for the second time with two amazing bands and had a great time.
Your current list of support bands is also nicely international. There are The Physics House Band from UK and Vasudeva from US. Why did you pick these two promising bands?
First of all, it’s really enjoyable to play a lot of shows with musicians that are from diverse backgrounds around the world. It’s always really exciting to get a different perspective on what it is like being in a band. I think the choices were also motivated by just trying to put together a show that works musically. I believe the current line-up we got are instrumental rock bands, but there is a lot of diversity within that spectrum. There is this lovely chilled out vibe from Vasudeva and then intense experimental sound from The Physics House Band. We are more influenced by heavy music and progressive rock. So there are three different flavors from three different locations. Hopefully it makes it attractive proposition package for fans of instrumental post rock.
As we also spoke some time ago, I do always enjoy your show for its nicely surprising heaviness. What are your secrets for such a massive live sound?
I think the first thing is having really good drummer, which is really crucial aspect of getting intense and aggressive sound. Tim just really knows how to hit a drum and make it sound really loud and bombastic. I think the other things that help a lot for us is we rely a lot on slightly older approach to making guitar sounds coming off stage other than digital modeling. I think by going rather traditional approach gives our live sound more of an impact. I suppose the last piece of puzzle is us believing in the music we are playing and not considering how many people are at the show. We are always committed in giving hundred percent musically and physically. I think all of those things together contribute to that sound. I suppose we all grew up listening to heavy metal and punk rock and going to those kind of shows. I think it’s that heritage of trying to capture that intensity on stage of our physical and aggressive sound.
I believe significant part of the credit goes to guitar style of Otto. How did you get to meet your guitarist Daniel Oreskovic and how do you judge chemistry between him and Otto?
There’s a bit more to that question. We made the new record Made of Breath Only with Daniel and there was a great chemistry between us. Me and Otto are actually huge fans of Daniel’s project Meniscus. I think that really helped us to find common musical ground to make a record together. But Daniel ended up committing most of his time for Meniscus, including touring. So we spent most of the year playing with another guitarist Lachlan Marks, which we know from the music scene for ages. Lachlan is a guy who has massive amount of touring experience. I might be just a bass player (Laugh) but I find it very important that there is chemistry between the two guitarists. We are really fortunate to have people which can come in and play the show with us very well. There has been a couple of changes over the years, but from the perspective of the show, it was very stable.
Made of Breath Only was definitely more collaborative record than before, because the core line-up is solid for five or six years now
In the list of your stable partners there is a producer Nick DiDia. How did the cooperation go and tell us if there was an interest to capture your live sound even further this time?
Yeah, this our second time working with Nick and he has very particular approach to making records, where he does like to capture as much of the live sound as possible. We made the record in very authentic and relatively straight forward environment. We all just played every song together until it was right. Those performances were the core of what went on the record and then we just went back to overdub various guitar or keyboard bits. There was also a lot of spontaneous decision making in the studio about what parts are we going to double. One of the nicest things about working with Nick, is the fact he is so experienced that you can make spontaneous decisions in the studio and you know, it will sound good. At this point it is quite comfortable working with him, because he has such a tremendous set of ears. There is a lot of trust we have in his ability to make the record sound fantastic. One of the things I really like about the production of Made of Breath Only is the fact, guitars have remained as big as they were on Love of Cartography, but there is even more energy and space for the rhythm section, which is really fantastic. In terms of us writing a record together, it was definitely more collaborative than before, because the core line-up is solid for five or six years now. I think there is really good songwriting chemistry between us and there are more people contributing ideas then in any point in the past. I think this is really everyone’s record.
From your personal point of view, what atmosphere were you trying to create? The coolest time, I was listening to Made of Breath Only was while I went running to the edge of Prague, to get away from busy city and daily open space environment. The storm was coming, sky turned black and that was the moment, when the song Tundra came up.
I think a lot of emotions we are trying to capture with music come from nonverbal emotions that are probably difficult to articulate. But we are definitely trying to capture a sense of unspeakable majesty and incomprehensible beautiful parts of the natural world. I believe this was also one of the impulses which brought us to music. The main thing that was an influence for us in the making of record was that we all experience some personal difficulty or loss in the period between releasing Love of Cartography and writing and recording Made of Breath Only. I think we were kind of looking for some sort of metaphor or simple focus point for those kind of emotions. We came to the idea of arctic landscape which is quite unusual for us, Australians. There is no snow in our home country and it’s quite hot. It’s mainly desert. Therefore our concept was quite mysterious but at the same time sad and lonely.
We are trying to capture a sense of unspeakable majesty and incomprehensible beautiful parts of the natural world
Your producer Nick DiDia has cooperated over time also with your countrymen Karnivool, whose live show also belongs into my personal top five live acts. I assume there is no competition between you guys and you rather support each other in traveling around the world and fulfilling your dreams, right?
Oh yeah, absolutely. One of the things about Australia is the fact, it’s very friendly and supportive scene. We are definitely friends with the guys from Karnivool and I think they like and admire our music. We certainly look up to them as a band that achieved a great deal. They are a standard as a heavier guitar driven band coming from Australia and representing us around the world. We are also very thankful for the opportunities they gave us when we were starting out and being able to play tours with them in Australia. We are kind of small and isolated country. Therefore it is quite difficult to tour outside of our continent. Rather than making things really competitive, it led to the atmosphere among our music scene, where we said: “There is no real fame or glory to fight over, so why fight?” We do it for the love and passion for music. We are just grateful to go around the world to places like Europe, get to play in a wonderful city like Prague and we are not really competitive nor bothered about our status in the industry.
Another beautiful example of cooperation and traveling around the world is your tour with Devin Townsend and also your headlining tour in China. So, please tell us about these two fascinating experiences.
What can one say about Devin…I suppose, he is a unique quantity in the music scene. There is no one quite like him at all. I was really amazed at how his shows were. There was some of the best heavy metal and stand-up comedy I have ever seen live. He was a fascinating character to share occasional dressing room, get to know and have conversation with. That was really tremendous experience. We have also had a great fortune to play just before him at Euroblast, which was also incredible. As far as China goes, that was our second time we went over there. It is incredibly exciting place to play live music, because the scene feels quite new, compared to other places around the world. It is tremendous sense of excitement and discovery. Fans in China are really passionate about discovering new music and attending shows. They are creating a culture in their country of underground live music. If you come from a place like Australia or Europe, where there is a much longer heritage of playing rock, it’s really refreshing, to go to a place like this, to experience a little bit that sense of discovery.
For the final point, I would just like to share with you my recent experience. Few months ago I started to organize, with a cooperation of Czech agency SONS (Czech Blind United), a music presentation session for blind and visually handicapped in Prague. On the first session, I included a track of Sleepmakeswaves – to you they are birds, to me they are voices in the forest. I must say I received very positive reactions on that track and I also wondering, if you will be playing this track in Prague?
I am not sure exactly what we will play, so I cannot answer that to you right away. But I would love to read that article, as that’s a really beautiful and tremendous story. One of the things I love is how our music can travel to a lot of places we cannot go and reach people we cannot meet. That’s really amazing to someone like me, who has family members that experience disability as well. It’s really wonderful that you are taking time to provide that kind of support and provide good experience to people, who don’t necessarily experience the world or perception in same was as other people do. Please come to say hi, when we will be in Prague!