KNITTING FACTORY ENTERTAINMENT
Sleeping with Sirens and The Amity Affliction
T.S. Eliot once famously claimed, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
Risk catalyzes Sleeping With Sirens on their fifth full-length and first for Warner Bros. Records, Gossip. Through taking quantum sonic leaps, the quintet—Kellin Quinn [vocals, keyboards], Jack Fowler [lead guitar], Nick Martin [rhythm guitar], Justin Hills [bass], and Gabe Barham [drums]—reach the artistic heights they began angling for nearly 10 years ago, while amplifying musical hallmarks such as soaring and soul-striking vocals, wildly catchy riffing, and intricate beats.
At its heart, the record reflects not only creative progression, but personal as well…
“The story of Gossip really begins in me transitioning from a boy to a man,” admits Kellin. “I grew up basically my entire life playing music in this group. This record is me figuring out who I’m supposed to be as a musician, a husband, and a father. It’s a hard, scary, rewarding, and daring process that gets chronicled in the lyrics. Musically, I feel like it’s the first Sirens record that sounds specifically like us. We took chances, experimented, and continued to do what we do best: create art. It’s something new. It has an authentic sound that we’ve been working towards all this time.”
When it comes to alternative music, the boys have quietly pushed the envelope since the release of their 2010 debut, With Ears to See and Eyes to Hear. Along the way, Sleeping With Sirens’ delicate one-two punch of towering melodies and tight musicality galvanized a diehard fan base dubbed “Strays” as they sold a staggering total of 1.5 million albums worldwide. 2013’s Feel bowed at #3 on the Billboard Top 200 and boasted a standout collaboration with MGK entitled “Alone.” Its 2015 follow-up Madness went Top 15 and earned unanimous acclaim with The New York Times praising how it, “blends tender and anguished in equal measure.” Along the way, Alternative Press named them 2014 “Artist of the Year” at the Alternative Press Music Awards, awarded “Kick Me” the 2015 “Song of the Year”, and touted them on its cover six times. They’ve graced the main stages of Warped Tour, Reading & Leeds, and more in addition to Kellin duetting with Pierce The Veil on the gold-certified “King For A Day.” After a whirlwind 2016, the guys hunkered down in January 2017 and commenced work on what would become Gossip for the next six months.
The sessions earmarked a few firsts for Sleeping With Sirens. It’s the first time that they recorded in multiple states, working everywhere from Los Angeles and Nashville to New Jersey. It’s also the first time they collaborated with producer David Bendeth [Paramore, All Time Low]. Often tackling one vocal or guitar part for eight hours straight, the musicians meticulously tapped into what Kellin dubs an “Electric” energy.
“We finally captured the live experience with Bendeth,” says the frontman. “We have the production, but there’s a rawness that comes through. David is very old school. He really pushed us, and we pushed ourselves. We realized what we could do as artists, and we evolved.”
That growth shines through the first single “Legends.” Piano and drums resound as Kellin empoweringly chants, “We could be legends after all.” It’s a triumphant call-to-arms bolstered by swells of hulking hooks and guitar.
“It’s about looking at your life and all of the obstacles in front of you and maintaining faith, belief, and love in yourself no matter what,” he goes on. “If you want to be somebody great, you must have that confidence. We’re in an age where everyone is surrounded by social media and constantly being judged. So strength comes from within. It’s a reminder that the work and time will pay off in the end.”
Over propulsive clapping on the title track “Gossip,” Kellin presciently croons, “I got that new sound and when I come ‘round I’ll be your nightmare, I’m coming for you don’t be scared.” It sums up the album’s mission statement, proudly addressing the evolution over snapping six-string distortion and the scorching falsetto that turned the conversation towards Sleeping With Sirens in the first place.
“The song discusses what people say about you,” he explains. “It correlates to social media again and how humans generally act. Everybody always has an opinion, whether it’s good or bad. It’s such a different record for us. We took the leap. We stand behind it.”
Acoustic guitar slips into an avalanche of glitchy electronics and vocal torrent on “One Man Army,” while “Trouble” hinges on a danceable groove and swaggering admission, “I’m in trouble.”
“‘Trouble’ is all about being blinded by what we think is important,” continues Kellin. “We get in trouble because we lose sight of what really matters. It’s about coming to terms with what matters in life. For me, it’s the little things like the moments I get to sleep in my own bed, wake up, and see my daughter or when fans tell me I got them through hard times.”
Gossip signals the start of another chapter for the band as well. In 2017, they inked their first major label deal with Warner Bros. Records as Kellin puts it, “They operate like an indie and automatically felt like family. It was like the stars aligned.”
Ultimately, the risks yield Sleeping With Sirens’ boldest, brightest, and best work to date.
“No matter what anyone says, I want to encourage listeners to take risks of their own,” Kellin leaves off. “Our band took a chance. We’re going to back it. That’s all you can do as an artist. This is my diary. It’s who I am.”
Life often resembles a game of chess. Players outside of our control make moves that affect our everyday existence. However, recognition remains the first step to revolution. Once you know the game, you can make a difference in the outcome. On their sixthfull-length, Only Death Is Real [Sumerian Records], STRAY FROM THE PATH survey the playing field and provide a book of bloody battle notes etched in hardcore energy, metal fire, and hip-hop poetry. The Long Island, NY quartet—Thomas Williams [guitar, vocals], Andrew “Drew York” Dijorio [vocals], Anthony “Dragon Neck” Altamura [bass, vocals], and Craig Reynolds [drums]—outline that fight on the record’s very cover art…
“The king equals the elite, the queen equals the government, the bishop equals the church, the knight equals the military, the rook equals the police, and the pawn equals the people,” explains Thomas. “This was the first time the vision and the theme of the album came before the music. We had the artwork first. We wrote this during a pretty dark and reflective time in our lives. In an age where government has failed, they made us feel as small and as insignificant as ever. In this game, all of the attention is turned onto the people: white versus black, Democrat versus Republican, gay versus straight, or Trump versus no Trump. They know the fight is within the community. There can be no fight against the establishment.”
Nevertheless, STRAY FROM THE PATH continue a 16-year tradition of speaking out. This tradition has transformed the group into genre luminaries. Most recently, Rock Sound placed Subliminal Criminals at #17 on its coveted “Top 50 Releases of 2015” list, while its single “First World Problem Child” [feat. Sam Carter] racked up 721K Spotify streams and counting. In support of the record, they hit nearly every corner of the globe with the likes of Architects, The Amity Affliction, Beartooth, Stick To Your Guns, and more in addition to Warped Tour.
In 2017, the boys hit the studio for their fourth straight collaboration with producer Will Putney [The Acacia Strain, Body Count] and first with vocal producer Jesse Barnett. Recording with Craig behind the kit for the first time, they ignited a fresh spark.
“Since Craig joined, the vibe of our band has been electric,” Thomas continues. “Everyone has a brand new fire in them to push us to places we’ve never been. He’s added a chemistry on and off-stage that has changed us for the better, and we’re writing our best material to date because of it. Then, there’s Will. He’s basically a member at this point. He’s our tie breaker. He understands us better than anyone. Also, Jesse brought in something we haven’t had yet on a STRAY FROM THE PATH album.
”They introduced the record with the first single “Goodnight Alt-Right”. A full-blown aural assault, it goes straight for the jugular, confronting and courting controversy head-on.
“When Richard Spencer, a white supremacist, was punched on-camera a few months back, it was great to see that he and his hatred were not being tolerated,” he explains. “We were shocked to see that people were actually defending him though. They said he should have freedom of speech. They’re not wrong. People should be able to exercise free speech. Sometimes, the things you say come with consequences. There is enough hate, misery,and division in this country that we don’t need a televised white supremacist saying, ‘This country belongs to white people.’ Bottom line: if you preach hate, expect hate.”
Elsewhere on the record, Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die and The Damned Things brings pure rock fury to the rousing and rambunctious “Strange Fiction,” and the “insane voice” of Knocked Loose’s Bryan Garris adds another dimension and dynamic to “All Day & Night.” In a rare cameo appearance, hip-hop luminary Vinnie Paz of Jedi Mind Tricks spits raw truth on “The House Always Wins” between a chaotic, combustible, and catchy hardcore onslaught.
“Vinnie might be the craziest feature we’ve ever had,” Thomas explains. “Jedi Mind Tricks, and Vinnie specifically, is one of the most politicallyaware and ferocious acts of our generation. I know he doesn’t collaborate much, so to have him do an entire verse was an incredible honor.”
Ultimately, only death is real comes at the right time.
“This is the world we live in,” Thomas leaves off. “It madea heavier and darker version of STRAY FROM THE PATH, and death is the only thing that’s certain.”
The cover of UNITYTX’s new EP, MADBOY, features a cartoon depiction of frontman Jay Webster shouldering a massive boulder, though from the illustration it’s hard to tell whether this represents the final step of a Herculean triumph or another entry in a Sisyphean sentence.
As it turns out, the Dallas-based hardcore/hip-hop band’s career has been both. Formed in 2014, the group has battled untold numbers of ups and downs, from numerous member changes to even more naysayers kicking back at their refusal to bow to genre norms — not to mention deep turmoil for Webster himself, including near homelessness and serious doubts about the viability of his musical dreams. Just when it seemed they were gaining traction, misfortune was always just around the corner looking to cut them down.
But now, with MADBOY set for release September 25 via Pure Noise Records, UNITYTX is living proof of the power of personal resilience and sheer will.