WORDS BY ALI GRICE
“I got to the end of a screening test for becoming an Iceland delivery driver and found out I’d failed – I had this whole existential moment; it was horrible.” Although potentially not cut out for the world of door to door frozen groceries, one half of indie duo Sleeper Service Tom Keogh finds himself in a bizarrely normal scenario for many young creatives in the music industry. Making, sharing and indulging in music has long been a release from the pent up anxieties of daily life, and the current pandemic has shone an even brighter light on music as a form of therapy. The likes of Charli XCX combined all three of these activities in her crowd-sourced quarantine album how i’m feeling now, and the musical world has followed suit in their troves. This is no different for eclectic duo Sleeper Service – having co-written, produced and released their seminal album You Won’t Believe The View in 2019, they are back again with a handful of singles to tide us through the final moments of lockdown and take us along a more honed and thoughtful sonic journey.
Intertwined in a variety of musical projects since high school, Tom Keogh and Greg Munday are more than ready to release their newest undertaking as Sleeper Service. Their experimental mix of melancholy vocal harmonies and anthemic guitar conjures up wondrous images of lost love, teenage dreams and struggles with identity. With their first single Fake Machine already released and their second premiering on 17th July, we caught up with the pair.
Looking back at their seminal release Tom shares “You Won’t Believe The View was us like being ‘Hello this is Tom and Greg’, this is our personality embodied in seven songs – we were attaching our faces to the sound.” However having matured over the last year and attacked this new project with more precision and cohesion, Tom confesses “we’re trying to tie a few ideas between the songs and marry them with a couple of music videos – generally trying to fuse them together with a theme.” The process of recording and releasing these few singles turned out to be a lot longer than anticipated: “The first song Fake Machine was basically finished a year ago, straight after YWBTV we wrote it and then we kinda sat on it for a whole year.” In part this was due to simple geography, with Greg residing in Exeter and Tom in Oxford, they had no choice but to release their music remotely. “It was a really good learning process as these next few singles have been really easy and smooth” says Greg, “it’s more difficult to live collate ideas [online] as you can’t really do it and then transfer it to another person; the actual process is sending mixes back and forth.”
With Greg and Tom both multi-instrumentalists with bedroom recording setups, they have the unique ability to throw ideas to and fro, and these have culminated into their first new single Fake Machine. “It’s actually a really nice dynamic – I was doing my thing and Greg was doing his thing and it worked really well – we leaned into each other’s forte’s.” Talking about their new online arrangement they mention long lost plans to start performing live. “I would like nothing more to play live but it’s very uncertain at the moment – basically Greg and I are very much in discussion about how far we want to take this.” With the world at a current standstill, the effects have been far reaching and have had many unpredictable outcomes. “We were going to spend two months generating the best live show possible; really pour our heart and soul into it.” Although the live music drought is a shame, sitting on such fantastic material must be endlessly frustrating. Sleeper Service however are remaining optimistic: “circumstances permitting, the barrage of gigs will happen.”
Whilst hyping themselves up for potential live shows, Greg speaks about the writing process and the promising potential for their live translation. “Our songs tend to have big bits in them which are inherently quite fun to play live, because who doesn’t enjoy slamming a guitar on stage and singing as loud as you can. So these bits will lend themselves to a hard hitting live set, in volume at least, hopefully quality too.” Tom adds “We just want to muck around and see what happens; does this fit in an album? Do people actually want to listen to this? Fuck it who cares? We like this song and we’ll put it in, if people don’t like it they can skip it – it’s not the end of the world.”
Although Billboard loves to keep telling us that the only alternative bands that matter are Imagine Dragons and Yungblud, hidden in the fray are some real gems. Sleeper Service are masters of their craft and are bringing dynamic alternative pop straight to your ears. Their mixture of ambient Bon Iver moments with the enormous Big Thief atmosphere on Fake Machine creates a beautiful remedy to modern life. An all-surrounding, deeply relatable anxiolytic that swaddles you in its warmth.
Punctures is available to stream everywhere on 17th July 2020.