Post-Hardcore Band Sleeping with Sirens Opts for a More Mature Sound

As Sleeping with Sirens frontman Kellin Quinn started to write the songs for Gossip, the post-hardcore band’s latest effort, he had one goal in mind. He wanted to write songs that reflected his maturity.

“I just wanted to sound 31 [years old],” he says. The band performs on Sunday, Sept. 10, at the Agora Ballroom. “I still feel like our fans are such young kids. I feel like it’s my responsibility to make a record that’s more mature, for my sake. I don’t want to feel like an impostor. I feel like there are bands that try to hang onto being 18 even though they’re really not. I wanted to make a record that felt my age. I wanted to relate to the songs. That was No. 1 for me. Everything else fell into place.”

The band has certainly evolved since forming on a whim in Orlando in 2009. Now, only guitarist Jack Fowler remains from that original line-up.

“We don’t really have a home base, but if Orlando claims us, that’s fine with us,” says Quinn, who explains that the band’s original guitarist initially approached him about recording some tunes with producer Cameron Mizell (Memphis May Fire, Palisades, Fit for a King).

“I wanted to give it a shot,” Quinn says. “I wasn’t doing much on my own, but I didn’t think it would go anywhere. I took the chance to go out there and give this band a shot. I could tell it was a lot more professional in terms of how the music was sounding. I felt like our music was on par with the other bands who had recorded where we were recording. Cameron was also in A&R and helped us get in the door. It felt special, but it felt like I was acting a part. Now, it feels like we’re just a rock band, and it feels natural and right.”

For Gossip, the band teamed up with producer David Bendeth (Paramore, All Time Low), whom Quinn says had a “clear vision” for the album.

“He just showed up at these shows of ours in New York for like three years. He has a deep scratchy voice and would go, ‘Hey, I wanna do your next record.’ He’s known for doing these heavy bands like Of Mice & Men. And he did Paramore’s Riot! record. Everything he’s done up until our band has been heavy. We weren’t sure. We had some influence of heavy in us, but we’re definitely not Of Mice & Men. What I loved about him was that he would always show up and he really wanted to work with us, so it just made sense to do it.”

The mid-tempo “Empire to Ashes” features upper-register vocals as Quinn sings about “not giving in” before gang style vocals kick. The tune even features a mid-song spoken segment with some really poetic lyrics.

“That song is about the world we live in,” says Quinn. “I think we feel like we could be trapped in this cage that we can’t escape. We wake up every day and worry about how to survive and support our families and forget how to live. That’s what that song is about. The lyrics aren’t so literal. I am very literal and that song is more metaphorical. It’s nice to just paint a picture. That’s how it took form. People say it reminds them of Game of Thrones. I didn’t mean that, but there is stuff in there that comes off as very Game of Thrones. If you’re an avid watcher, it’s pretty funny. Some kids have taken quotes form the song and correlated them with the show.”

With its shimmering synthesizers and echoing vocals, “Legends” features layers of vocals. Quinn worked with 30 Seconds to Mars bassist Stevie Aiello on turning “Legends” into something special.

“[Aiello] had this music and different lyrics and a whole vision for the song,” Quinn explains. “He was singing me the words and I wasn’t really feeling it. I did get inspired by the song. I wanted to write [something that] felt anthemic and gave people hope. I think everyone has a dream they want to follow, but the important thing is about the climb and the work you put in and how that will help you become a legend at some point.”

The vocals in “Cheers” are particularly snotty and the song sounds less refined than Gossip’s other tracks.

“When I was working on that song, I told the guys in the band that I wanted it to feel like we were in a dirty, grungy bar,” says Quinn. “It’s like you’ve been working all day and going through the motions, and it’s like a Friends or Seinfeld episode and you get home from work and your friends are there, and it doesn’t matter how shitty life is. As long as you have people around you, you can make anything happen. It’s also like if we could write our version of ‘Party Hard’ by Andrew W.K., what would it be?”

After numerous lineup changes, Quinn says he’s finally found a lineup he can live with.

“This is the final lineup,” he says. “I’m at the point now where if there are any more member changes, it would be the end of the band. I don’t see anyone being replaced. I love everyone in the band, and I think they’re meant to be here.”

Sleeping with Sirens, The White Noise, Palaye Royale, Chase Atlantic, 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 10, Agora Ballroom, 5000 Euclid Ave., 216-881-2221. Tickets: $23.25 ADV, $27 ADV,

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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