Interview: Sleeping with Sirens

Arizona Mosby and Kate Snowdon

As part of the Pierce the Veil / Sleeping with Sirens World Tour, they played the O2 Academy Glasgow. Myself and Kate Snowdon went along before the show to interview guitarists Nick Martin and Jack Fowler before their show that evening, that we attended and reviewed.

Tell us about your new album, it’s got a totally different tone to the last one, much more poppy. How’d you feel about that?

Jack: I love it, I think it’s good to change.

Yeah? Was any of it influenced by John Feldman? You were working with him weren’t you?

Nick: Completely yeah. It’s different for me because this is my first record with the band but my previous band, the last record I did was with John Feldman. There was definitely a familiarity with going to him, so for me it felt very easy and it’s a fun atmosphere to record with him. We were stoked. It turned out awesome.

Jack: Yeah, it did! It’s been my favourite to record yet.

Yeah it’s got a great sound. How does it feel coming from your last band D.R.U.G.S to this? It’s a different sound.

Nick: It’s completely different, a different sound, and a different vibe. It doesn’t mean, necessarily a bad or a good vibe, it’s just different vibe. It’s a vibe that I prefer to be around than before. Before I was just burnt out on the music industry in general so coming into this I was definitely very weary.

Jack: We brought you back to life

Nick: They really did. They gave me a fresh new sound and the feeling of being in a band again which is an amazing feeling

What genre would you define the new album because I’ve heard the word ‘post-hardcore’ thrown around, in regards to your back catalogue a lot. But the new one’s…

Nick: What does post-hardcore even mean?

Kate: For me, I always thought it was always one singer, one screamer and some breakdown kicking about and that was me but…

Nick: Yeah that’s what I thought.

Jack: I never understand post-hardcore or hardcore because do they consider hardcore like ‘Terror’ but then post-hardcore is…, I don’t get it.

Nick: When I think of hardcore, I’m a lot older, so when I think of hardcore I think of like old legit hardcore.

Kate: Like thrash kind of?

Nick: Yeah, I think of like Cro-Mags, Earth Crisis, H2O, those kind of like crazy hardcore bands. So it’s crazy when I hear post-hardcore, I don’t really hear that in our music but I guess it’s hard to classify, at least from our end. As musicians it is very hard to classify, trying to put a genre on it.

Is there a genre you would like to identify with? Are you aiming for anything?

Jack: We don’t, I mean if you’ve heard the new album, every song is different and just like ‘Feel’ or ‘Let’s Cheers to This’, every song has a different kind of sound to it, like every album we’ve done since the first one. I wasn’t part of the first one either but I have been there for the last three records and it has always been a different sound, we try to change the game a little bit.

Do you think that’s important in the music industry? To totally change it up every time?

Jack: You got to keep people on their toes, if you write the same album over and over again, people are going to get tired of your band. So you always got to switch it up.

Nick: I think to be an artist, it’s about natural progression, it’s not about saying on this record we are going to sound like this and on this record we are going to sound like this. I think if you really treat it as an art then it’s not going to sound the same, there is always going to be a progression. As you get older, there are different styles of music you listen to, there are different styles that inspire you, and so you want that to come out more and more as you progress as an artist. So I think it is important for us to do that.

Jack: A lot of the time, people are afraid to do that, afraid to progress.

Nick: So then you hear bands that keep on releasing the same record, for some people they love that, there a lot of fans that want a band to sound like their first record but for the most part there is a glass ceiling which means they can’t really go any further because they get shit for it!

So what are your favourite track of the new album? Is there are any that are best live? Or just best for you personally?

Jack: If I had to pick, oh I don’t know.

Nick: My favourite song is ‘Madness’. It’s a very timeless song to me, every time I hear it, it always feel fresh. Every time I listen to it, there a little nuances and things that I hear that I didn’t hear before. It is a very eclectic sound.

Jack: I think I like ‘Don’t Panic’.

Nick: It is so hard to pick your favourite song.

Jack: I mean I like every single song on the record but thinking about the future and what we are going to play live. I think I am really going to enjoy playing ‘Don’t Panic’.

How involved are you both in the creative process?

Jack: Completely.

Kate: Is it just you all bouncing ideas off each other?

Jack: Basically we all just sat in a room, me, Kellin (Quinn), Feldman and Nick. We started writing rifts or if somebody came up with something we all liked, we’d track that and then we would build around that. That’s how it worked, we just sat and wrote together, the four of us.

Sounds like a good writing experience, is that different from how it worked when you were in D.R.U.G.S?

Nick: Er it was very similar but actually there was more cooks this time, before it wasn’t as many people involved. On this one, there is definitely more outside opinions and a lot of outside influence I guess. It made for an interesting experience, I think that’s what showed through in ‘Madness’.

Yeah definitely! We’ve got a bit more of a difficult question I think but I think it’s quite important! Obviously Kellin has spoken out quite a lot about mental ill health and low self-esteem in a lot of your fan base. Is it something you find quite difficult to deal with?

Nick: Personally or just as far as hearing other kids’ stories?

Arizona: We read an interview where someone had brought the blade they had cut themselves with and they gave it to you guys! Is that quite hard to deal with when someone brings you something like that?

Nick: It’s hard to deal with in a couple of ways, as far as, it’s difficult at least from my end to know that somebody is going through that, that someone has experienced that kind of self-harm in their lives or that they got to the point to do that. The second part is for kids that give that stuff to us, I mean we don’t want stuff, first of all it’s kind of a health concern for us as well. Like when kids actually out blades in our hand, it becomes a bit of a kinda scary situation as far as if we cut ourselves. There is a kind of fine line there as far as getting those kind of things, but we understand, I get it though from their end of like, you know, it’s like them giving back to us, like ‘here it is, I don’t use this anymore, I want you to have this’ but I don’t know.

Kate: Does it ever feel like a lot of responsibility? It seems like you guys are having to uphold some sort of image?

Nick: There is a fine line.

Jack: Yeah it’s really weird when kids come up to you all day like ‘Oh you saved my life’, and like that at the end of it’s like ‘no, you did! Our music may have helped you through but one day you just figured it out yourself!’

Nick: Yeah, we want them to give themselves more credit. If we played a role in that it means the world to us but we wish kids would give themselves more credit. I don’t think kids give themselves enough credit, so we try to remind them that everyone has that inner strength to be able to overcome anything. Love yourself and give yourself more credit for it!

It’s a great message! That was quite a hard question so we heard a lot about erm, I was speaking to Devin Townsend recently, which was bizarre. But apparently, there is a massive difference between stateside touring and UK/Europe touring! Do you find that, like in the turn out and the atmosphere?

Jack: No I mean, the last two tours we’ve done and the world tour, in the states and here, it has just been incredible. Every show on the tours have sold out and I think the only difference is over here, you just can’t use your phone as much. But the turnout is awesome, the kids you know, sometimes over here, because they don’t get it as much, they are a little more into it, they sing louder and scream their hearts out at shows. I really like coming over here!

Do you find Glasgow has anything in particular special about it?

Nick: It’s always a blast here, even when I was in D.R.U.G.S, all the sows, all the kids are out of control, we like to have a blast and the nightlife is awesome so all in all, it is a delight.

Are you going to be out tonight?

Nick: We might be out tonight! We have a day off tomorrow so!

Jack: Oh no! I forgot!

Nick: Yeah it’s a Saturday night so!

Kate: Well go the Cathouse, that’s our favourite place! We go every single weekend!

Nick: There is a high probability that we will end up there!

Well have a good time if you do go out! Have you got any favourite places to go out? Is that something you do a lot on tour or are you kind of reeling it back this tour?

Jack: Er me, everyone is a little different, I try to go out every night and experience the nightlife and see what it’s like. Because it’s different everywhere so I like to have fun!

Have you got any mental stories that have happened on this tour? Has there been anything in particular…anything publishable?

Both: Erm…….

Jack: I mean it’s not the 80s anymore, so there are no like crazy stories. I mean I have watched someone all down the stairs maybe once or twice, that’s about as crazy as it gets.

Nick: Yeah I don’t think we are as wild as you would think, to others it might wild but to us it probably doesn’t seem as wild. I guess it is kind of the beauty of being in a band is that we kind of have to have that, no secrets per se, but that’s like our stories, it is part of our bond. It’s not like out of fear of being judged or anything, it’s just part of our bond and our family. We have good times and we get a little rowdy once in a while but that’s about it!

Jack: Yep!

Is it different now that Kellin obviously has a family, has that affected anything?

Nick: As far as?

Kate: In regards to touring, partying, has there been any times were he has been reserved because he’s have to have been with his family?

Jack: Yeah he definitely misses his family, but any of us, all of us when we are out, we miss our families. But it’s probably one of the things, we all signed up for it, so it is something we all have to do! Go through it together and pull each other through.

Nick: All of our families are very supportive and they understand that this is what we have to do to earn a living so! Maybe his (Kellin’s) priorities are different because he has a couple of kids at home but we keep it balanced. He doesn’t really get drunk in the club.

No that’s brilliant. Plans for the rest of the year?

Nick: Touring.

Jack: A lot of touring! We can’t say with who!

Kate: Is that a secret or you don’t know yet?

Jack: No it’s a secret, we both know but we are booked out February/March of next year!

Nick: Yeah we are going to be doing a lot of touring!

Are you not tired?

Jack: Very tired! You know after this tour is over, we get six weeks off, we get to go home and relax and then that’s it after four/five months straight.

Nick: Yeah I think it’s important for us to promote ‘Madness’ at this point, we have spent a lot of time getting to this point, getting the record done and released, now it’s just about pushing it, touring on it! That is what me are most excited about, putting a bunch of new songs in the set

Jack: Whilst touring time lies by and before you know it we will be back in the studio, recording a new record.

[Crew member comes on the tour bus to talk to Jack]

Is your crew quite a good bunch then? Have you been with them a while?

Nick: We love them.

Jack: Yeah! Between Lisa, Jake, our tour manager, there have been a few that come and go but there are a few that we know are going to be with us until we are  not ‘us’ anymore’, you know.

Nick: Yeah, they are like part of the band really.

That’s brilliant. So what was the decision to tour with Pierce the Veil? You guys are, in a lot of ways, very similar bands so it is interesting that you would tour with someone that sounds quite similar.

Jack: You know that’s why we did it, kids would like tweet and tweet or write us an email saying ‘hey, you guys should tour with Pierce!’, so we did it once like two years ago and our bands seem to grow together so we were just like ‘let’s just tour with each other, for about five months straight.’

Nick: Yeah it’s be great!

Jack: Obviously it worked and it was awesome!

How do you find the impact of social media? Do you find time to respond to respond to a lot fan messages and things?

Jack: We try! We try to do as much as we can.

Kate: There must be so many though, especially with twitter.

Nick: It’s hard! Twitter is definitely a gnarly one.

Jack: That’s what we said, we try. It gets a little blown out of proportion sometimes but you got to do it. That is how you connect with your fans now.

Nick: We definitely read most, if not all of them! We read a lot, but it is very hard to find the time to respond to every single person but it still means the world to us that people write to us. We love them for that!

Is it something you have seen used effectively, social media? Like as a source for reaching out or did you find that they just came to you? Did you have to utilise it?

Nick: I mean I think it is important for us to utilise it. I think kids sometimes feel like they don’t get enough, like they have a sense of entitlement but we do what we can with it and try and make everybody happy, and post stuff about our daily lives like what we are doing.

What do you do most of the time when you are on tour? There must be a lot of down time, do you do like blogging or anything like that?

Jack: Er no, I play guitar…a lot and I sleep. I like to rest, sometimes too much.

Nick: A lot of rest. There are really long days for us in general, as soon as we get up there is things to do like we have to go to sound check or do interviews.

Jack: Yeah like people say ‘we live the life and get to travel around the world’ but like, I point out it’s like a job.  It’s like a regular, granted not 9 to 5 but it’s 12 to 10, still like ten hour days you know or eleven if you headline. Yeah so there is so much to do throughout the day, like interviews or signing posters that I got yelled at for that I haven’t done yet, there is just like a bunch of stuff you know, it’s a job but it is awesome! I think it is the best job in the world!

Nick: It is but it is still a job!

So did either of you go to uni at all because we are both studying at Glasgow, we are part of the student paper. Is that like something you guys feel is important as musicians? I have a fried studying music at college and he thinks it is worthless, he is thinking of quitting!

Nick: Yeah, this another one of those questions that has a multifaceted answer I guess. I went to university for a semester and then I dropped out.

Kate: How young were you at that point?

Nick: I was 18, but I started touring when I was 17 and yeah, I don’t know, school is kinda of, erm it works for some people and for others it doesn’t.

Jack: I just think it’s really a hard question to answer because like I was going to go to college but then I got a call to come and join this band but that’s just me. I think it is very important for people to go to school because music is definitely a very hard industry to come in. It’s like you could work for years and years and years but never get recognised, and you could look eight years back and think wow I could’ve had my masters, bachelors or you could do anything you want, you have just got to have the drive to do it. In music to me, it’s like, if it’s not working, this is going to sound bad but if it’s not working by certain age then maybe through in the towel and go do something else.

Nick: I toured for about seven or eight years of my life, never making a dime, like literally did not make any money, went into massive debt for eight years but I didn’t imagine myself doing anything different. After the eight years, finally something happened and I was making a loving from it but it took a long time to get there.

Jack: But in the mean time you were like, ‘you know what I am going to open up a t-shirt printing company’, you opened up a warehouse and started a business.

Nick: Yeah there were other things obviously that I got involved in.

Jack: You have to be smart about it, you have to do it right!

Nick: Yeah, you have to be persistent.

Do you think luck plays a big part?

Nick: Yeah!

Jack: Yeah, you just need the right person to find you out or you get the right tour, you never know what it can do, you know you never know where your life may go.

Nick: It’s definitely a gamble but it is so much fun.

Jack: The best part was that for me, the up and coming when I first joined the band, the van days when you don’t know where you are going to end up and it wasn’t really a job back then it was just like you and your buddies hanging out in the van, having a good time.

Nick: Trying to scrape by but that’s part of us.

Jack: That’s like college, starting out in a van, you move out and go to college. Eventually you get your degree and you move up to an RV, and after that you go to a bus or you get a masters. Yeah it’s just like being in college.

Nick: Yeah it’s true.

So, do you feel like you have graduated or do you feel like there is so much more to learn?

Nick: There is a lot, there is a double masters!

Jack: Yeah there is a lot more to do, we don’t want to limit ourselves, you have to keep going and see where you can take it.

In terms of like, bad albums, like if you brought out an album the fans didn’t like, how would you react to that? Would that be something you would take very badly, if you liked the album and they didn’t? Because obviously if you are changing your sound, your fans might not evolve with you.

Jack: I feel like if you back it, push it and you love it then they will eventually love it too.

Nick: Yeah there has got to be a confidence and love behind you do no matter what, and I think that shines through any bullshit and any naysayers. If people have something bad to say about it, you can be like ‘you know what I love it and I am confident in it, that’s all I can really do’.

Jack: You are always going to have those kids that will say ‘this band doesn’t sound like their first album’, yeah well we are not 17 anymore, we want to grow up and get older with our music and we want to branch out more often. We don’t want to just want to, I mean if you want to listen to the first album, go on iTunes and buy it, and listen to it over and over again. That’s okay, you still bought it, cool!

Nick: Yeah as an artist, you never ask anybody if it’s okay or if anybody likes it. As an artist, we release it because we love it and it’s a part of us, it’s a body of work that we completely back and that’s the most important thing to all of us I think. Then if people love it on tip of that, then that is the icing on the cake!

[Alex Howard interrupts the interview, and the guys talk about trying haggis. Alex says ‘it’s actually alright’. Nick agrees and asks Alex if he knows what it is? Jack then asks what it is and we proceed to explain to him what haggis is made of.]

Kate: It’s like a sheep stomach, stuffed with oats and bits from other parts of the sheep. I don’t really like thinking about it.

Arizona: Yeah me neither, I just eat it!

Nick: Yeah, I had it once it was okay. I would try it again, it definitely wasn’t something that grossed me out. It just has a different flavour.

Jack: I think that’s one of the best thing about touring, getting to try different foods

Nick: Oh, I love it.

Do you manage to get out during the day a lot to explore?

Jack: We try until that happens [points to the long queue of fans outside the tour bus], a huge line and then that just, for real like our days are like the walking dead sometimes. You are just trying to walk somewhere and then like you hear [mimics girly scream] and then fans are chasing after you.

Nick: Sometimes it is hard to get out but we try.

Do you find that as home as well or are you able to go out in your hometown?

Jack: Yeah, sometimes. I can go out in my hometown, usually because I only go out at night.

Nick: Yeah, I usually don’t go to places where young people, younger people, hang out.

Do you feel like your fan base is growing up with you as well?

Jack: They are starting to.

Nick: We see that a lot in our meet and greets now, for sure. There are a lot of people now in their twenties that grew up with us when they were in high school. It’s awesome!

Cool, well we will let you go if you are running late, it was nice to meet you guys and good luck with the rest of the tour. We will be there tonight reviewing the show, we look forward to seeing you guys!

Both: Thank you, it was nice to meet you too.


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