Sleepcomesdown goes "into the atmosphere" with help from cicadas and The Boss
The ominous cool of Sonic Youth and Unwound is an easy ploy for a band to hide behind, and so is the circuit-stabbing experimentation of Health and Black Dice. To merge the two takes a little more dedication and surprisingly doesn't mean getting swallowed whole in pretension, at least for Milwaukee-via-Kenosha band Sleepcomesdown. As clearly as these influences come through, they also inspire the five-piece to expand and revise its palette of textural gadgets and reverb-laden effects with each song. Dylan Zocchi's synths and "electronics" (increasingly, a catch-all term for "random things that aren't typical rock-band instruments") have a way of supporting the band's creepily-cooed vocals and post-punk guitar hooks. The chorus of "We Disappear," from a split 7-inch with Milwaukee band Worrier released this year, even talks of vanishing "into the ocean, into the atmosphere," as if the band's daring all this sound to engulf it a little more. Before Sleepcomesdown's show Friday at the Cactus Club, guitarist Steve Ruppa told The A.V. Club about the sonic tinkering behind two original songs and one Bruce Springsteen cover.
Steve Ruppa: One sound I use in there is a cicada sample. There's also a really tweaked-out Stephen Hawking vocal sample in that song. It's kind of like some odd chatter. He has one quote, something to the effect of, "You can't feel sorry for yourself because no one will have time for you." There's even a sound in there that is nothing but an effect pedal tweaked-out. There's no note, just reverb that creates a note by tumbling on itself.
The A.V. Club: The whole point of Springsteen's Nebraska album is how stripped-down it is, but you're kind of going the opposite route here.
SR: We wanted something that we could just take the note and the melody and then create our own version. We actually like that album because of its stripped-down purity. The whole song is really just one part, so we were able to add our ins and outs and pretty much do anything we wanted to do in the key of the song. That also definitely evolved quite a bit since its original live incarnation. That has quite a few loops and samples, and then live, the way we used to play it, we'd have some guitar loops going, then three of us would play drums. We had retired it for a long time, and we just wrote another version of it that we've been playing the last month or so: a super-slow, really psychedelic, warp-y, really guitar-based version of it. The beginning of the recorded version, that is actually Bruce Springsteen making some sounds on some live recording, and it got manipulated and tweaked-out like that.
AVC: The electronics in the intro seem less tied to the structure of a rock song.
SR: Most of that EP is a ton of extra percussion. When we play live, we don't stop our music or our set. The beginning percussion intro of our song, that came impromptu in practice as we were coming out of another song, and we started developing that beat, and then we wrote the song off of that. That one sounds different because it was originally just an interlude. It was barely an intro to anything, and then we just kind of developed it into a song.
AVC: Have you gotten more comfortable using electronic elements that aren't made to go with a vocal part or a guitar part?
SR: Yeah, for sure. I would say now we do not write to guitar parts or vocal parts, really. We just kind of write to what we end up accidentally playing.