Sleep on It finally made their way over to the UK and we were stoked to catch them at this year’s Slam Dunk Festival. We caught up with vocalist Zech Pluister and guitarist TJ Horansky before the band hit the stage in Leeds, and we had a chat about the Chicago music scene, staying original in the pop punk scene and more. Read our full interview below.
MOSH: How are you guys feeling about playing Slam Dunk this weekend?
ZP: Exciting! A little nerve wracking because we’ve never been here before so we don’t really know what we’re getting ourselves into, but we’re just excited to be here. It’s definitely a privilege to be in the UK playing music.
MOSH: Do you have any particular songs you’re excited about playing/ any usual crowd pleasers?
TH: We’re playing some stuff we haven’t played live yet. Our opening track is the opening track to our album and we haven’t played that live yet. So we’re just excited to play some more new stuff, really. Our record only came out in November so we haven’t really haven’t toured much on it.
MOSH: How has the reception generally been so far?
TH: I think it’s been great.
ZP: I’m kind of the worst person to ask about that because I don’t pay much attention to social media at all. I don’t really read the news, or read what the fans like. Maybe that’s because I would get really sad if I read one bad review and I think it’s over! From what I know though, a lot of people loved it.
TH: We also haven’t played that many shows since the record came out, so now that we’re here at Slam Dunk playing shows I think we’ll finally get to see which songs get a reaction and what people like.
MOSH: As with any genre really, but especially in pop punk and how saturated it can get, are there are themes lyrically or musically that you try to avoid when writing?
ZP: Definitely. There’s nothing wrong with anything I’m about to mention. I really try to stay away from writing songs about tour. When I am writing any music about a relationship or anything of the sort I kind of try to make it more eloquent, and in a way dance around the subject without really saying what it is. I also try and keep it more 2005 then 2010.
TH: We just write music we want to hear and trust our gut. That’s really what it comes down to. Cliche is a very subjective thing, but we try to avoid things we think have been overdone or can be considered cliche.
MOSH: No pizza then? I don’t even know the origin of that to be honest.
ZP: I don’t either but I think it’s because pop punk dudes are broke and pizza is cheap.
TH: Eating pizza with your friends and you’re posi about it, that’s the whole thing.
ZP: I just broke up with my girlfriend and I want to leave my hometown.
TH: Maybe we just like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Maybe that’s it.
MOSH: Speaking of hometown though, you guys are from Chicago and from an outside perspective it’s almost semeed like a thriving music scene. How would you say that that affected or influenced the way that you write music?
ZP: If anything I would say it influenced me because I was just constantly surrounded by it. There was never really anything I had to look for or find the underground scene. It was just something, not to sound vain, but just something I was born into. It was just natural – I’m the only one who’s from Chicago, everyone else is from a different state. I don’t think it really inspired my writing too much but more like it drove me to always be better. There’s always so much happening and there’s so many good bands and I wanted to be one and it kind of drove me to become a better musician.
MOSH: Were there any bands in particular?
ZP: Obviously the big ones – Alkaline Trio, Fall Out Boy but from the local scene, First and Foremost and there’s a band I got really close to called You, Me And Everyone We Know. They were a really big influence on me, is in my opinion one of the best lyricist from that scene.
TH: We just watched The Audition from out the window here and they’re sick. They’re a Chicago band.
ZP: I could sit here for an hour and list great bands from Chicago. It’s definitely what drove me to want to be a musician and become someone like The Audition or Fall Out Boy, Spitalfield that came from there and gave Chicago the name it has.
TH: It’s why I wanted to move to Chicago.
MOSH: On your last record, you guys had a song with Derek from State Champs. If you could have anyone on the lineup today feature on a Sleep On It song, who would it be?
ZP: Jim Adkins from Jimmy Eat World.
TH: Jimmy Eat World is probably our favourite band.
MOSH: Is there anyone else you’re excited about on the lineup?
ZP: Oh yeah, there are so many friends!
TH: I love Every Time I Die, it’s one of my favourite bands especially to see live.
ZP: We got really excited today because they tweeted that it’s been like 56 days since they played a show and they were like “That shit ends today!”
TH: They’re great. I’m also excited to see Taking Back Sunday.
ZP: There are a lot of friends here so that’s going to be really exciting. It would be good to catch up with As It Is, we toured with them. Grayscale is here. We’re just really excited.
MOSH: So this is going to either go down very well or not but I decided I had to do it. If there is a band you think people shouldn’t sleep on, who would it be?
ZP: Other than us, it’s honestly hard to say.
TH: There’s a band from Chicago called Highwire that we’re friends with, they’re incredible. I would recommend checking them out.
ZP: There’s a band I’m into thanks to AJ from The Dangerous Summer called The Band Camino. They’re a band that’s coming up right now. I would say those two are great.
MOSH: What does the rest of the year look like for you guys?
ZP: Tour. Tour, tour, tour. Hopefully write a record. Tour, tour, tour. Hopefully record a record.
TH: We’re going to be on Warped Tour for the last two thirds of Warped Tour so we’re excited about that. We’re figuring out our plans for the Fall but would love to be touring again in the Fall. Just trying to play as many shows in as many places as possible.
ZP: Just gotta stay busy. We spent the past like five months just sitting at home and I think that’s also why we’re kind of in shock that we’re in the UK right now playing shows. We just want to stay busy, we kind of made a pact in the band that we would never do that again.
TH: Yeah, that was way too long of a break!
ZP: We were starting to get a little crazy, we all had cabin fever so want to keep playing shows, keep having fun, keep writing music and keep making new fans.