Worth The Hangover
Rising Garage Pop Act Readies Their Sophomore Album
Words by Christine Loughran
Photo by Phil Knott
If Sleeper Agent’s debut album compares to a “fun-fueled weekend,” then lead singer and guitarist, Tony Smith, says the indie pop troupe’s upcoming release, About Last Night, can be counted as the “recovering, reflective morning after.” What exactly does that mean? To find out, listen to a track like ‘Waves’, the first single off their latest effort, directly after a track from 2011’s Celabrasion. The hooky choruses and punk add-ins, like those heard in their breakthrough tune ‘Get it Daddy’, have the same feel, but there’s a little something different about the sound. It’s more grown up.
Smith, who named Sleeper Agent in 2008 after characters on the TV-show, Battlestar Galactica, says that maturity comes with experience, and the six-piece outfit from Kentucky has had plenty. Before Sleeper Agent’s most recent tour, they promoted Celebrasion at gigs where they performed alongside Young the Giant, Grouplove and Weezer, and live on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in February 2012. That April, they rocked the iconic Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival too.
Fast forward to 2014, and their new single ‘Waves’ recounts tales of traveling from coast-to-coast, which is a familiar feeling since they are currently on tour through North America with New Politics and Magic Man. For five weeks starting on January 14th, the Bowling Green natives will take the stage in West Hollywood, Atlanta, and a smattering of venues in between. As part of this showcase, Sleeper Agent graced our presence at the Lower East Side’s Bowery Ballroom, where they played for a sold-out crowd on January 30th.
“Every time we’ve come to New York, we’ve been in a different borough,” said Smith, who adds that his band tries to experience a different piece of the city each time they come to town. “Crowds there are similar to those in L.A. They’ve seen it all, and they’ve heard it all.”
But back to About Last Night. Although Sleeper Agent’s growth since Celabrasion can be heard over their latest 12 tracks, according to Smith, the recordings also speak to recent realizations about “watching the magic, and seeing the illusion of what you thought the world was going to be, and what it actually is. It’s filled with personal anecdotes”, he adds.
There are certain things about Sleeper Agent that haven’t changed much since the last album, though. The creative process remains a “spiritual,” experience, says Smith, who considers brewing a pot of coffee and going outside for a smoke to be a vital part of his song-writing ritual. “Usually then I go back and see what Alex [Kandel] thinks, and the rest of the band,” he says.
When About Last Night drops this March 25th, Sleeper Agent urges listeners to look beyond its poppier tracks to get the full effect. A track like ‘Shut’, is a good example. “It’s minimal, dark and also bittersweet,” says Smith, who counts Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy among his influences. “It probably won’t be a single, but it’s so different than anything we’ve ever done.”
TheWaster.com | About Last Night