Sleeping With Sirens are known for pushing the envelope with their unique sound. Since debuting their first full-length album, With Ears To See And Eyes To Hear, in 2010, the band was catapulted into mainstream popularity and hit the ground running.
On their day off from touring, I caught up with Sleeping With Sirens’ bass player, Justin Hills, to talk about the band’s new album, UK tour and more.
I start off the interview by asking Justin my favourite go-to question: how would he describe Sleeping With Sirens’ distinctive sound. After a short pause, Justin settles on calling the band “an energetic, fun rock and roll band with a good, positive message”.
From description to depiction, Sleeping With Sirens has made no attempt at hiding their unconventional sound. With each album bringing its own style to the table, I ask Justin what caused the band to experiment with so many different sounds for their new album, Gossip. Justin admits it’s their age.
“We’re all growing up, and as we grow, so does the music… it’s a more mature version of ourselves.” That said, Justin elaborates, stating “anything that Kellin sings on with this group is going to sound like Sleeping With Sirens”, yet highlighting this time the band have had “write, prepare and record this album.” Having recently moved on from Epitaph Record to Warner Bros. Justin draws on the change saying “we’re on a major label, we had the time to sit back and think about what we wanted to sound like. We wrote a lot of songs and trashed a lot of them just trying to find that niche.”
“…at the end of the day we do create music for other people, but first and foremost we create it to make ourselves happy. It’s not really about the paycheck…”
It’s been two years since Sleeping With Sirens released a full-length album, inevitably leading us to start talking about how the band’s style has progressively changed. I ask Justin if both himself and the band are pleased with the way fans have reacted to their new direction. “Yeah, of course!” he enthusiastically replies. From his immediate answer, it’s clear Justin holds a lot of appreciation towards fans but importantly highlights “we’re happy with it ourselves.”
After a quick pause, he takes to explaining himself; “at the end of the day we do create music for other people, but first and foremost we create it to make ourselves happy. It’s not really about the paycheck or whatever. It’s about us being able to play and share our music in front of people and to make ourselves happy because that’s what we are good at. I don’t really think we would want to do anything else other than this. It’s just been a blessing to be able to play in front of new people and to make ourselves happy.”
Justin and I continue talking about the band’s development and bring up one of Sleeping With Sirens’ biggest recent success. The band’s lead single Legends was chosen as Team USA’s official song for the Winter Olympics. I ask him how it felt to have the band’s music recongised like that. “It was really surreal!” Justin tells me. “It’s one of those things that is uncharted territory for us. We didn’t go into [the album] expecting something like that. Justin laughs, suddenly admitting, “we were in London, actually, when we found out [about Team USA’s song choice]. I called my mum, told her and she started crying”.
From a new album to a UK tour, Sleeping With Sirens recently finished their UK tour supporting Rise Against. I ask Justin how it felt to be back on tour. “It’s been great!” he says. “It is a little different than a normal tour we would do if we were headlining. We’re definitely playing with different bands and older crowds […] It’s fun to go out on a tour that we wouldn’t normally […] and see how they react. It’s been good, we haven’t had many tours where we’ve done a direct approach, so it’s definitely an eye opener for us, and a bit of a challenge but a good challenge – we like it.”
With the interview drawing to a close, I ask whether Sleeping With Sirens have any plans after the UK tour. “We’re always writing, recording and writing on music but we’ll be on the road until we’re done with this record cycle, which could be never, so we could be on tour forever.”
Just before the interview ends, I throw in a quick advice question for budding musicians. I ask Justin whether he has any advice for aspiring artists at The University of Nottingham. “I would say study with people who are good with what they do” he states honestly. “So, with a guitar if you like Led Zeppelin, listen to Jimmy Cage and how he plays and understand song writing. If you’re an artist in the making, look at Van Gough or Picasso and play what you think is cool and emulate that until you can find your own style”.
Sleeping With Sirens’ new album Gossip is out now.
Featured Image courtesy of Sleeping With Sirens