sleepmakeswaves is an Australian four-piece post rock outfit wherein each artist is an absolute master of their instrument and an open intuit in flow with the other three. The story they create with sound and emotion flows from screaming pain to floating euphoria and everything in between. AMY SEVEN spoke with guitarist Otto Wicks-Green who shared some interesting insights into the band’s approach to their third album Made of Breath Only which is out this week and gets an official Perth launch at Badlands Bar on April 7.
To someone who hasn’t heard you or heard of you, how do you describe your music?
I often have this conversation with Uber drivers when the question comes up and one of my favourite ways to describe us is by saying, imagine you are going to a symphony orchestra but instead of violins they had guitars really loud and distorted, and a drumkit, but it is just four guys.
When you guys are creating your albums do you create them as a story which carries a theme from start to finish or as separate tracks which you then piece together afterwards?
It’s a bit of both but this record is definitely the most conceptual and intentional record we have done in comparison to others, where we had a long period of song writing until we had enough songs to make an album. With this one we did set out with a more intentional, conceptual vibe in mind. We all went through various forms of loss in 2015 and we wanted to channel that into something powerful and dark and this metaphor of the Antarctic was the framework and aesthetic so we wrote the album with this in mind.
Was any of that loss to do with losing your guitarist Kid Khor?
Yeah a little bit, we miss Kid but it was a positive and amicable departure, he remains one of our good mates he just achieved everything he set out to with the band and shortly after got married and is doing really well, but yeah we miss him.
So has your new guitarist Dankiel Oreskovic’s place in the band changed the dynamic at all and where did you find him?
Most of the songs were already written by the time Dan came in but what drew us to him was his guitar playing live is unlike anything I have ever seen before. He is an absolute machine. He has this amazing, expressive and passionate delivery of notes that is also qualified by his ability to create beautiful sweeping soundscapes which we knew because he plays in another band Meniscus which to me is Australia’s best instrumental band and I have been following them since I was eighteen. So getting to be in a band with this dude is so awesome. His performances are all true to record and having him on the album is a complete privilege. Because of his other commitments he wont be touring with us this time so another friend Lachlan Marks from Gay Paris is filling in on the tour and bringing with him is own unique rockabilly energy and he is awesome. Such a funny, smiley man.
What can you tell us about the lead single Tundra?
Tundra is an expanse of ground that is permanently frozen so very unhospitable to life. We went with this as the lead single because it is an overture for the rest of the album. We added so much sonic information into that song and emotional information. It goes from soaring highs to brutal valleys. It has big intensity and big epicness but also a sadness and bleakness at the end, but with a slight note of optimism. The name Tundra came out of those first chords, something about the character of them. I’d been messing around with this new tuning which is where a lot of this music came from. Open strings at the top ringing out with the chords around them bringing a sense of melancholia to it. A bunch of reverb and the open chords evoked in me a harsh, barren terrain as a metaphor for grief or missing someone.
How does this album differ to your others production wise?
With the production of this record we really went all out with quite an interesting influences inspired by the Trog sound which has a lot of mellotron and keys and really expansive orchestral pad notes which are strewn throughout the whole album. Our producer Nick DiDia is a Troghead from way back and I think this was a really good project for him to indulge in. We wanted to go for a really raw and exposed sound like back in those times when you just had to practice your arse off and there wasn’t a lot of fancy correctional software to hide behind. We wanted to make this album about the performances and provide these analog and 70s style flourishes around the edges.
And the title track, Made of Breath Only…?
This came out of a beautiful piano motif that Alex [Wilson, bass and keys] wrote. He did all the programming and stretching and pulling of the wood that you hear at the start of the track giving the organic, aching quality to it. I came along and added some nice little guitars around the edges. We felt like it captured the spirit of the record and divides the album in two and embodies the fragility evoked by the title.
What can you tell us about your geometric artwork and more specifically your star emblem?
The art for each album cycle is really important to us and I am a designer by trade so it is really important for me to have a cohesive aesthetic for each cycle that speaks for the music and relates to it from album artwork to posters and all merchandise. Our designer Jamie Stuart is a superstar genius. The star shape has been with us since 2011 when we recorded the first album. We wanted to create art that straddled the boundary between organic and synthetic which reflects a big part of our sound with our tech laptop electronic instruments and also drums and guitars. He came up with a shape and tessellated it throughout the album cover and it stuck. I like how mysterious it is, almost alien and open to your own interpretation. Like our music.