SLEEPSPENT | "IT'S BETTER IF YOU DON'T SPEAK OR THINK" EP | SLOW START | MAY 4th, 2018
21-year-old songwriter and guitarist, Austin North began performing as a UC San Diego student before eventually returning to his hometown of El Paso to form Sleepspent with friend and co-writer, Aaron Quintanilla.
The band, now a trio including Grant Gonzalez on bass and Josh Mendoza on drums, will release its Chris Common (Minus The Bear, Chelsea Wolfe, Le Butcherettes)-produced debut EP “It’s Better If You Don’t Speak Or Think” via Slow Start Records on May 4th, 2018.
North’s knack for creating music that is bathed in atmosphere (think Slowdive mixed with a more reverb-y Radiohead, led by a guitarist with an effects pedal fetish) that doesn’t lean away from authentic lyricism and captivating vocal performances (think Jeff Buckley) is proven on “It’s Better If You Don’t Speak Or Think”.
“We’re also definitely inspired by Shoegaze and Dreampop,” North says, elaborating on Sleepspent’s sound. “That can be heard in the alternate tunings used throughout our music as well as the melodic chord progressions and melodies.”
And though he’s young, North also takes influence from future hall-of-famers like The Cure and The Smiths – two more acts with definitive “sounds” that have never sacrificed art for artifice.
North’s formative years studying jazz guitar wraps it all up in a solid technical foundation, too, but ultimately, Sleepspent songs exist to make you feel.
“They’re more about whatever emotion and feeling they bring about in people,” North says. “I write them to make people feel and interpret my own musings rather than to have them be relatable.”
“A lot of the songs on the EP center around a feeling of confusion and a sense of isolation, and ‘Something’ is a prime example of that,” North continues, referring to the EP’s upcoming first single.
“Something” defines Sleepspent in precise terms: The melody is utterly mournful, but its palpable sadness is totally addictive at the same time.
“The main line ‘I am very much alive / No thanks to anyone’ is almost spiteful, even,” North explains. “It can seem like a positive thing to become self-sufficient but can really be harmful to lose touch with others.”
The song evolved from a North demo into a Sleepspent signature song that features a kind of indie version of the “wall of sound,” which was created by North alone and then re-created in the studio.
“‘Something’ came to be all in one night by myself,” North affirms. “I recorded the demo with some odd recording techniques, like blindly playing random notes in the same key over multiple tracks in order to get a very noisy and chaotic sound that we recreated later.”
Interestingly, the demo recording’s closely mic’d acoustic guitar tracks, augmented by an ebow, have survived through to the final track.
“We also used an air organ, which was a dream to play in the studio while recreating a synthesizer I had used in the demo,” North says.
For all of the obsessing over gear and studio experimentation, Sleepspent is also quickly gaining a reputation in El Paso as a formidable live act.
Sleepspent has already been nominated as a ‘Best Band in the City’ by The City Magazine in El Paso, who called the trio “completely captivating, live and through your speakers.” As Sleepspent’s local following has grown, the group has become a go-to local act to support nationally touring artists, and has also begun to hit the road itself.
Sleepspent will announce more live performances as the release date of “It’s Better If You Don’t Speak Or Think” nears. For now, introduce yourself to Sleepspent, and to crib North himself: There’s no need to speak or think. Just listen.
The debut EP by Sleepspent arrives on May 4th, 2018 via Slow Start Records.
12/27/2018: El Paso, TX @ The Living Lounge
12/28/2018: El Paso, TX @ Rockhouse Bar & Grill (w/ If We Were Turtles)
01/19/2019: El Paso, TX @ The Black Orchid
01/31/2019: Albuquerque, NM @ Moonlight Lounge
02/01/2019: El Paso, TX @ Neon Rose
02/02/2019: Lubbock, TX @ Downtown Social Club
02/04/2019: Memphis, TN @ Growler
02/05/2019: Nashville, TN @ Springwater (w/ Off To Sleep)
02/07/2019: New Orleans, LA @ The Circle
02/08/2019: Corpus Christi, TX @ The NASA
02/09/2019: Austin, TX @ Love Goat
03/09/2019: El Paso, TX @ Monarch