Sleeper Agent recently finished their tour opening for Magic Man and New Politics. I got the chance to catch up with Tony Smith, guitarist and vocalist, on February 17th at their San Diego House of Blues show. Smith discussed the band’s hometown, their upcoming LP, and the current state of rock music. You can view and watch the interview below:
How has the tour been so far?
Tony Smith: It’s been great. It’s been crazy every night. Way too many shows back to back. So, it’s been an endurance run, but we’re making it through and we’re having a blast.
As a band who has toured in both small venues and clubs like this tour as well as being a part of large festivals such as Coachella, which do you prefer to perform for?
Tony: I think I prefer the club atmosphere, it’s a little more my style. I know where things are and I know next door this amazing place to eat and there’s probably a shitty bar inside that I can get a drink. And the festivals are a little overwhelming, but I do like them.
When I heard about Sleeper Agent, Cage the Elephant, and Schools, I noticed you all came from a city called Bowling green, Kentucky, which I wasn’t quite familiar with. Do you there is something special or unique about Bowling Green that promotes or encourages creating rock music?
Tony: It’s very small, so your options are either get a job, go to a bar, or sit around and doing nothing, or create a band. So, I think the lack of activity is what inspires so many bands to go forth.
Your third LP release, About Last Night, will be released next month on March 25th. Did you run into any difficulties or pressures while writing material for this album?
Tony: We wrote and demoed about 40 songs and we had a huge team-shift midway through the process. So, everything got pushed back. And we had to meet all new people and get them excited about the band. So, that was our only real setback. But, everybody loved the music we were doing the whole time, it was just about getting it in the right hands.
You guys have previously mentioned influences such as the Beatles, Beach Boys, Pixies, and much more. Were there any artists you were specifically listening to while writing and recording for the upcoming album?
Tony: When we got done with our first album cycle, I would jog to Animal Collective a lot. I was really interested in all the ways that they shaped synth sounds and melodies and harmonies. So, I took a lot of that into About Last Night.
You also released a lyric video for Waves, which will be on About Last Night. Is that similar to the other music that will be released on this upcoming album?
Tony: Yes and no. There are a couple folkier songs like Waves, but there are also some really heavy alternative rock songs. There are some really overblown pop songs. It’s very hard for us to stand in one place for very long. So, there’s a little big of something for everyone on there.
As a band who is beginning to reach radio airplay and mainstream success, what is your opinion on the current state of rock music?
Tony: Rock and Roll is almost non-existent in the mainstream. You have those few bands like Imagine Dragons and Foster the People and bands that just come out of nowhere and blow up. I would prefer to see not just one band every year that has a great year, but like 5 bands a year that have great years. It’s just a really big crap shoot. Hip hop dominates and country dominates. Nothing against those genres, but I just happen to be in the one that doesn’t dominate.
It was also recently announced that you are scheduled to perform in the Firefly music festival in Delaware in June. Are there any festivals or countries you would like to perform in the future?
Tony: Oh yeah, I hope to hit every country on the face of this earth. We haven’t done the Lollapalooza or Bonnaroo yet. Lollapalooza was the first time I ever left Kentucky and saw a bigger city like Chicago, so that would be really great to go play that and have it all come full-circle.
Are there any bands you would like to tour with or any bands on your bucket list you would like to meet?
Tony: Of course, I would love to tour with the Pixies, that would be amazing, with or without Kim Deal. But, I would say really that would be #1. Everyone else are bands we’ve met along the way that I would love to bring on the road with us.
You and Alex share vocal duties in your songs. Do both of you write lyrics or what is the exact writing process for these songs?
Tony: Well, I write the majority of the lyrics. Sometimes, the other guys will pitch a line. Alex will pitch a line sometimes. But, it’s all more-so this filtering process where I’ll come up with this entire concept and theme and idea and then I’ll pitch it to her. And you can just tell by her face if she likes it or not. So, I’ll just go back to the drawing board if she just kinda says, “No, I’m not saying that.” So, she’s kinda like my litmus test.
Well thank you very much for the interview.
You can watch the video form of this interview below thanks to Daniel Alguire of NBD Media:
For a review and photos of the show click here