Music Profile | Sleepy Sun

“Some of the best pieces of works are the ones made through extremely challenging times.”  Bret Constantino, lead vocalist for San Francisco-based Sleepy Sun, is recalling the process of recording the band’s fifth and newly released album, Private Tales. “The record was frustrating in many ways but our persistence paid off,” he says on the phone from his home in the Bay Area. “I hate to admit it but it was not that fun to make.” The creation of the album happened mainly over long distance when Constantino packed his bags to move to from San Francisco to Texas.  The frontman moved to be with a woman he had met while the band was on the road, one whom eventually became his wife. “She was going to school in Austin and I had come off of touring, there was no work at the time at home and I was trying to figure out if I could make my living as a musician.” In an old barracks built out back from where they were living, Constantino would wake up in the morning and sequester himself in the dead Texas heat and write. “Evan (Reiss) and Matt (Holliman) would send over guitar parts to songs and we would send things back and forth. I wrote a lot of demos in that old farmhouse.” One of which was Private Tales opener “Prodigal Vampire”. “It was just this melody of drone,” he says. “I showed it to the guys and they were very interested in it. We tried to plug into, to mash it into like three other songs we had been working on but it eventually it just seemed to work best on its own.”

The band spent about another year writing songs and eventually brought in Colin Stewart, the BC-based producer known for making records for bands such as Black Mountain, and a producer with whom Sleepy Suns had previously worked. “Looking back on it, Colin was the only person that could’ve made this record,” Constantino states. “We had to work with someone who knew our dynamic and he was a huge influence on us, he’d helped us to find our identity as a group. We’ve always really strived on having that sixth member.” Constantino remembers cold calling Stewart after hearing the first Black Mountain record to see if he would be interested in working with the band. He was and Sleepy Sun ended up flying up to Vancouver to record. For Private Tales, Stewart flew to the band in San Francisco, working with them there instead of out his home studio The Hive on Vancouver Island.  “The first two records we did with Colin, we were on a complete lockdown,” Constantino remembers. “This time, everyone was back to their lives and jobs.” Which he admits made things a little more challenging. “It’s hard enough to collaborate with five other people, harder especially when you aren’t all in the same room together.”

As tough as it was to write and record Private Tales, Constantino says that it’s exciting to have it finished and it is something they are all proud of. “It’s almost like starting the band all over again,” he says. “We are now all in different positions in our lives then we were when we came off the road the last time. It’s been a year since I’ve moved home and we’ve all assimilated. I’ve been writing more and writing music for the experience of it and the joy of it then needing to write for a specific reason, so it’s exciting to see where this will all go next.”

One place Sleepy Sun will end up next is for a show in Vancouver on August 3rd at The Cobalt. “I’m looking forward to this tour,” Constantino shares. “We are taking the time off so it feels like a bit of a vacation in a way. There’s obviously some drives I’m not looking forward to but we are definitely looking forward to Vancouver.” He recalls their previous adventures recording in the city. “We stayed at the St. Regis, I turned 21, which,” he adds laughing, “was a bit of a letdown as you guys can all drink at 19 but it was a really nice time to be there. We were just little kids having a blast.” Now, Sleepy Sun has matured and Private Tales is here to show off that growth. The album has a spaciousness and depth that showcases a real sophistication in the bands songwriting and musicianship; one that audiences here and around North America will be treated to this summer as the band winds its way around on tour.

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