Bursting forth from Santa Cruz by way of San Francisco with their 2009 debut Embrace, psychedelic sextet Sleepy Sun are a band seemingly possessed by a work ethic that would rival the inmates of Japanese internment camps. Less than a year after the release of Embrace, the band are back again with follow up Fever, a more restrained and polished counterpart to the free-wheeling tumult of their debut.
Shifting their sound from Black Sabbath-esque stoner riffs to delicate acoustic folk, the band’s restlessness extends well beyond their relentless touring and whirlwind recording sessions. There’s a feeling on both of their albums that anything could happen at any time, you just don’t know; something the band are very proud of and try to hold to as much as possible rather than getting caught up with structure and careful planning.
“There has never been a pointed approach to writing songs,” guitarist Matt Holliman explains. “When we go into the studio we never go in with completely finished tracks, like this is Embrace this is Fever, it’s more a case of us going in with a few songs and just going with it. Sometimes we end up ripping out entire guitar parts, adding various percussion, changing vocals, coming up with harmonies on the spot; it’s very much an organic experience within the studio, as is the writing process. We don’t have some structure card we whip out and go over to help us write the songs or anything.”
Not concerned with slaving away to try and record the perfect album, the band prefers to try and capture the energy and passion of the music, embracing their own sonic idiosyncrasies. “As a band I don’t think we could do a click track. I think we certainly possess the musicianship but I think it would just sound crap. We’re trying to capture the raw feel in those takes, as raw as possible. I think a click track would take away some of the swing, I mean we’re not perfect musicians, so why try to fake that,” Matt remarks amidst self-deprecating laughter.
This honesty and dedication to harnessing the band’s raw power as opposed to trying to clone it in the studio does mean though that the recordings are flawed. But whereas another band might stew on a guitar being slightly off key here or a kick drum being out of time there, Sleepy Sun take a more ambivalent perspective.
“I mean, on either of those two records there are mistakes in there. Maybe other people aren’t hearing them, but I do and it’s not something that bugs me or keeps me up at night, that was just the take at the time and that was what the feeling was. I mean any of the songs on either album have progressed so far from when they were recorded, but that’s just our process, those are snap shots of the songs at that specific time, they’re never going to be exactly the same as they are on the album.”
Currently working on their as yet untitled third album, having just finished touring North America and Mexico with The Arctic Monkeys, Sleepy Sun are heaping their plate with musical nourishment almost to the point of creative obesity. In spite of this gluttony though, Matt assures me the impact of such a highly charged atmosphere hasn’t changed the band’s approach to writing and recording. “It’s definitely going to change the writing process to a degree, but I mean we’re not exactly in any mad rush to get our next record out,” says Matt with an air of nonchalance. “We’re just taking it as it goes.”
And so it goes.
Fever is out now on ATP Recordings through Inertia.