QUICK CHAT w/ ART OF SLEEPING
2015 has marked a blistering return from Brisbane’s Art Of Sleeping, who have just kicked off a national tour in support of their haunting single, ‘Voodoo’. We caught up with lead man Caleb Hodges in an attempt to get our hands on that debut album everyone is dying to hear.
Hey Caleb! Thanks for taking the time out to chat! I guess we’ll start from the beginning of 2015, which has been a bit of a comeback year for you guys. And you started it off performing at Falls Festival in Lorne, how was that experience after a decent amount of time away from the live aspect of things?
Yeah honestly we felt pretty rusty. We hadn’t played for like 6 months before that. But it was mixed emotions because we felt rusty but also so happy to be playing again ‘cause we’d just been recording in the studio for 6 months, which is cool, but yeah we definitely like playing live shows. It was a really cool way to come back, a good way to start touring again.
You guys had a fairly extended time out of the limelight, was that a necessary break for the band after the success of Like A Thief?
Not really so much a break, I think we just wanted to concentrate on writing and working on our craft in that aspect. Playing live is something we’ve always enjoyed and that’s how we started out just playing a couple of shows here and there but I think we just wanted to take the opportunity by the horns and embrace song writing and the recording process and put a lot of effort in there.
What has it been like trying to balance a music career and being able to essentially pay the bills?
Yeah absolutely, I think that’s every musician’s balance. Actually I was going through Instagram this morning and I saw this little picture, I think Portugal. The Man put it up, and it was like a paddle pop or something and the first half of the stick says ‘what did the musician throw away?’ and once you’ve eaten it the other half it says ‘his future’.
But I think that even people who are like highly successful in that regard still feel like it’s a bit of a balancing act trying to juggle making a living or supporting your family and touring and being away and still make music. And music is one of those industries where I guess you’ve got to invest so much before you see any returns so I guess the real reason to do it is because you love it. And that’s not just for musicians that’s for managers and booking agents and labels and the like, I think people are in it for the thrill and because they love it. And there are so many intelligent people I’ve met who could make millions in business ventures elsewhere but they just love music.
And you’ve been holding onto your debut album Shake Shiver for a while now, you must be itching to release it.
Yes, you took the words from my mouth. We’re really excited. We actually recorded the album in around 11 days in the studio. But we spent a lot of time in pre production hanging out with Tom Iansek from #1 Dads. We also spent a lot of time talking to a sound engineer called Lasse Martin (Lykke Li, Sarah Blasko) over in Sweden. We went back and forth with him on the mix and we’re just sitting on it now, which is driving us insane, so yeah we can’t wait to release more music.
So you mentioned working with Tom Iansek, it would have been awesome to work with him, what did you learn from that experience?
Yeah it was amazing. One of the main reasons we were so excited to work with Tom was because he’s not just a producer he’s a talented songwriter, performer and an artist as well. We were excited to learn as much as we could working with him so that was definitely what happened and we tried to be really open to new ideas and looking at the album with a new aesthetic which he definitely assisted with. And I guess it was cool to not just work with some old-timer producer who’s just done it the same way for 20 years. It’s an awesome collaborative effort.
A lot of Tom’s music is quite delicate; did he bring out a softer sound in you guys?
Absolutely. And that was another thing to, I think you fall into certain ways of doing things as a musician or as a group and it’s hard to get out of that headspace. Tom definitely helped us get out of that headspace and explore a new aesthetic of our music while still sounding like us. A lot of the songs are super textured and we had so much fun trying new ways of recording things and playing with different techniques. Just doing things we probably wouldn’t have done without Tom.
The tour for ‘Voodoo’ starts this Friday, how are you feeling about playing new material?
Yeah really excited! I think we’ll be playing all the singles that people know and a lot of the set has new material off the album that we’re really excited to play live, yeah can’t wait.
The single ‘Voodoo’ is deeply emotional, and we see so much passion in the film clip, how do you go about trying to bring that intensity to a live performance?
Well actually before we play, we’ve been doing this thing where we hangout backstage and have a quick chat through our set before we go out and play the gig. It’s nice to just get back in the green room and chat about the songs and what they mean to us and how we want to perform them, just talking about them all and verbalizing what we need to do to get us in that space. It allows us to all get in sync for the show. But yeah that’s a pre-show ritual for us and ‘Voodoo’ is one of those songs where we want to play it with swag and with passion so we talk about the dynamics and what the lyrics mean.
And looking forward you guys are playing Splendour in the Grass, which has a plethora of amazing Australian acts on the bill. Who are you looking forward to hanging out with or seeing live?
I always look forward to seeing Tame Impala, they’re incredible and Mark Ronson’s set it probably going to be pretty cool to catch as well. But honestly the line-up is ridiculous, I’m so excited to almost just finish my set and just go watch everyone play.
And are you guys heading overseas this year?
Yeah absolutely, we’ve got this Voodoo tour and then the album comes out on the 17th of July and then we play Splendour. Following that – it’s yet to be announced – but there will definitely be a massive national album tour and a tour supporting another act larger than ourselves, which will be really exciting as well so a lot of things on the cards for Australia. We’ve definitely got our eyes set overseas so hopefully we will head there as well.
Have you released anything overseas yet?
We had actually never released anything overseas until about a week ago when we did a soft release of Voodoo in the UK. Towards the end of the year we’ll be ramping it up and releasing a few more songs there. I don’t think we’ll have anything in the US until later in the year too.
And lastly I’ll throw you a bit of a curve ball, I heard your song ‘One Hundred Thousand’ was in the VCE music exam last year. That must have been a huge compliment!
Yeah! We got heaps of inboxes being like “hey we just did an exam on your song!” And I was kind of like “wow um I hope you got a good mark!” I’ve also chatted to a lot of people after live shows and they were like “yeah I found you guys from an exam I did”. It should be free entry for anyone who did an exam on us.
Well I’ll be seeing you guys perform next Friday in Melbourne, best of luck with the tour and album release! Can’t wait. Thanks for the chat.
Cheers man! Bye!
Catch Art of Sleeping on their Voodoo Tour
By Harriet Carter //@harrietewc