I spoke with Ryan (guitar and lead vocals) and Steve (drums) of the Chicago band Sleepwalk last weekend and we chatted about their brand new album, Shimmer. The 90’s, dream-pop, soft grunge rockers put in a lot of work on their latest release that definitely shows in the final product.
Sleepwalk first started 3 years ago with the intent of becoming a black metal band, but when Steve lent Ryan a CD by the band Nothing, things changed. They are greatly influenced by famous alternative bands of the 90’s namely The Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, and The Stone Roses. These guys put together a sound that melds all these influences together creating one luxurious blanket of dreamy songs you just want to wrap up in and float around a room to like the lil ghost-baby you are.
After opening for a Ringo Deathstarr show, the concept of a full album came pretty spontaneously with the main focus being the shoegaze sound and high quality recording and production. As for song writing, about half of the quintet came up with the skeletons of the songs, while the entire band got together to work them out full and finally. Shimmer features a few of their older songs, including the title track and “Lucidity Slips”, that they pulled out of their backlog and reworked to fit with the sound of the album.
Shimmer brings a lighter feel compared to their debut EP, Heaven’s Gate, which came out in February of 2016. The change in sound wasn’t a preconceived concept by any means, but it was warmly welcomed. Heaven’s Gate had a bit of a darker, edgier vibe reminiscent of Title Fight, but you can hear the hints of those whimsical, whisper-vocals, and “layers of swirling guitar” that became much more prominent on Shimmer.
“Shadow” is definitely my favorite song off the LP, finishing the album off with a beautiful build that reminds me a bit of if Beach House and This Will Destroy You decided to make a dreamy, bedroom-pop baby. The blisteringly loud noise of everything mixed with those calm vocals make for the most beautiful, floaty, drone-y song, and I just love it.
Nearly all five members of Sleepwalk have played in other local, Chicago bands previously which helped them in navigating the DIY music scene there as Sleepwalk became a real thing. They say that DIY spots come and go, especially now in the wake of the Oakland warehouse fire, but that some of their favorites venues (DIY and otherwise) to play have been The Empty Bottle, Schubas, and Beat Kitchen.
As for the future, they tell me that more music will eventually be a thing, obviously, but that right now they’re just trying to get the word out about Sleepwalk and Shimmer. They’d also like to get physical copies of Shimmer available for fans, because right now you can only download a digital copy on BandCamp (name your price!).