The one-two of an album not landing as well as they'd hoped (2017's 'Gossip'), and then their triumphant return being cut short by the pandemic (2019's 'How It Feels To Be Lost'), left Sleeping With Sirens no choice - knuckle down and dig through the ashes of what was left.
Emerging with their latest album 'Complete Collapse' firmly in hand, it's a return to that vicious Sleeping With Sirens sound that established their post-hardcore motives back in 2009. But this time, it's packed with the extra added knowledge of what they want to be and, more importantly, who they want to be. Particularly in the case of vocalist Kellin Quinn who reigned in his onstage alter ego and found the path to inner peace.
Heya Kellin, how're things going in the ramp-up to 'Complete Collapse'?
I'm feeling good about it. It's right around the corner, so it's nice to finally release it from my death grip.
Now it's all locked in, how's it settling with you?
The thing about making records is that the amount of time it takes you to make that record, you grow so much within the months afterwards that it's almost like a photograph of you. I think that's a cool aspect. It's almost like a mirror image of the things that we think and the things that we say; the cool thing about music is that you put it down, and it's something that you can go back and see who you were then and internalise it and go, 'Okay, cool. That's the shit that I went through, and this is who I am now because of getting all that out'. It's therapeutic in that way.
And who were you when you started 'Complete Collapse'?
Man, I was a dude that was toured into the ground. We had come off a record – 'Gossip' – which was a really dark time for the band. I think it was probably my lowest. And then doing 'How It Feels To Be Lost' and feeling that record and the impact – like two tours and seeing shows start to fill up again and people coming back – and then all of a sudden, that's gone. So a part of it is bittersweet because I feel like we never really gave that record its due, but at the same time, I think that we all in the band needed to go home and just figure out who the hell we are. Like I figured out that Kellin Quinn is a version of me, but it's not everything. It's not all of me, you know what I mean? It's just a part of me, and it doesn't have to be my everything, and I've figured out how to associate that and not be so caught up in this character that I've basically created over the years.
It sounds like there's an irony in the title of this new album because you appear to have found yourself?
The name is kind of a play on words in the sense that basically what the record means is if I had continued down the path that I was on, I would have completely collapsed, you know what I mean? So it's looking at that and realising you either change for the better, or you change for the worse – there's no in-between. And then I also think that it's a play on – especially with the album cover, which, you know, like is perfect – but the way that we've gone through this pandemic, and just we're sitting by the pool with our martinis, while everything's burning around us and we're just kind of like casually ignoring the elephant in the room, which is we just went through a really disastrous, mindfuck of a thing and I don't think we've completely digested it. It's just kind of like, 'Oh, we're back to normal again.' It's like, what the fuck has happened?
Moving forward from 'HIFTBL' after 'Gossip,' how much did that play into the sounds of this record?
'Gossip' was just a lot of people in our ears telling us who we were supposed to be or what we could be like, "Oh, if you did a song like this, you could be like this band" or "you could be like this band", because of all the other bands and artists that were on Top 40… I'm thankful for that record, because if it wasn't for that record, I don't think it would have kicked us in the ass to really go back and rethink who we were and what we want to do, you know? I think that we realised that 'How It Feels To Be Lost' was our lane. I feel like it was us getting back to the roots of who we were before making 'Gossip', and then this new album is just a continuation of that. And I think it's even more so, like some of the songs are almost a nod to older records. We'd be writing a song and be like, man, this kind of sounds like 'If You Can't Hang' a little bit, or this song kind of sounds like 'Trophy Father', and maybe we can tie in some lyrics from that song and bring it into this one. So it was almost just like finding yourself again and just having fun.
Is it important to feel that being so deep into your career?
I think that music should be a growing evolution. For instance, I've been wanting to learn guitar and get really good at doing that because I want to incorporate that into the writing aspect. Like I feel in the studio with writing, I have all these ideas in my head, but I can only convey them with my mouth or singing things, and there are ideas that I have musically that I want to incorporate too. So I'm learning all of the basics through a bunch of songs; right now I just learned 'Loveblood' by Sundara Karma – I love that band – and just playing with power chords. If I get to the point where I can play a few of our songs live, then hopefully, by the next record, I can incorporate some riffs and some ideas into the mix.
It sounds like you're chomping at the bit to grow?
I just want to have fun and enjoy it, you know? I feel like being a singer for like 12 years has been cool, but now I'm ready to grow as an artist and to do more things with music than just standing up there and singing – which is a skill in itself, it's hard to do what I do, but at the same time, it would be awesome to incorporate other instruments. And I'd like the band to grow out of being a Warped Tour band or a scene band. There needs to be an evolution of sound, there needs to be an evolution of playability and character and things like that. So I'm just thinking ahead in terms of like, who do I want to be in like four years onstage? Do I still want to be punk-jumping off bass cabs, or do I want to sit there playing guitar or maybe some synth and doing some cool shit with instruments and making it more of an intimate, live show instead?
Having dedicated fans and a level of expectation, is that restrictive at all?
We'll do what we feel is necessary first without getting in that position where we're getting a lot of voices in our ears. I think that it comes down to thinking about who we would want to use to produce new music and things like that. So there's a lot of ideas that we're already kicking around and ideas that we have for what we want to do in the future to kind of like elevate the bands while still being like who we are with these last few records especially.
It sounds like the future is promising for Sleeping With Sirens, then.
I feel like the last one, and this one, are a great jumping-off point. As our band is getting older and we're getting more mature, and we're all listening to different shit now. I'm not listening to really anything within our genre. Most of the stuff I listen to is completely different than what I listened to when I wanted to start making music like this; it's like, I'll go back and listen to like that first US record or like, you know, we're just talking about like, art and stuff, but I'm listening to like tonnes of different shit. I'm listening to Velvet Underground all the time and to Radiohead and stuff like that. So those are things that I would love to mess with and incorporate and just have fun. And if it doesn't work, then cool. We'll move on to a different song, but at least try it, you know?
Taken from the November issue of Upset. Sleeping With Sirens' album 'Complete Collapse' is out now.
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