Tag Archives: musicians

You Need to Know About This Band: Sleeperstar

25 Sep

Last night, September 24th, 2010, I had the pleasure of attending the Sleeperstar show at Diesel in the South Side. I also got to sit down with the guys before their concert – at Primanti Brothers, nonetheless – and chat with them over food about the band, their creative process, and their music.

If you don’t know about Sleeperstar, it’s time to get familiar. Hailing from Texas, Sleeperstar is an alternative-rock/pop band comprised of  Chris Pearson (Vocals, Guitar, Piano), Nick Box (Vocals, Lead Guitar, Piano), Jake Lester (Vocals, Piano, Synth, Keyboards), Brandon Rosas on Bass and Shaun Menary on Drums. They’ve played with the likes of Carbon Leaf, Bowling for Soup, Vertical Horizon, Owl City, and even John Mayer, and describe their music as being inspired by U2, Third Eye Blind, Coldplay, and Muse – among others.

These guys are no hacks. All of them have musical background dating back to, well, their childhood days.

Pearson says that both his father and grandpap directed orchestras and choir, and that he grew up, “immersed in music.” At the time, coming from a musical family seemed more of a curse than a blessing, as Chris longed to focus on sports and thought that singing was kind of lame. However, he continued singing in his church choir (his parents told him that “he’d someday thank them”) and, by junior year of high school, became inspired to stick with the music route when he started playing acoustic guitar after hearing a friend perform a Guster tune.

Drummer Shaun Menary also knew from a very young age that he’d be a musician. He has quite literally played drums almost his entire life, and was inspired by his father who also played. He began to really get serious around 8th grade and, according to the rest of the band, is one hell of a drummer. (I can attest to the same, from a fan’s point of view!)

Jake Lester, a whiz on the keyboards, began playing piano at the age of 5, quit, and felt compelled to play again because of his father’s band, “Doctor Doctor” (which, was actually made up of ALL DOCTORS….with a ‘guest lawyer’ now and then!) Musicality was in his genes and that exposure helped him realize that he enjoyed what they did, and that he wanted to someday play in a band. His favorite part? “How people reacted to the music and to what they were doing.” He and Nick Box, lead guitarist of Sleeperstar, grew up together, went to the same church, and later, went on to college together.

Nick, like Jake, began piano lessons at the tender age of 5. He says that he would “walk up to pianos and just begin playing around, trying to pick up melodies.” At age 14, he found his love for the guitar, and joined the church band. In college (with Lester) he began to write songs.

The bass player, Brandon Rosas, was unfortunately stuck in Texas for the Pittsburgh show, as he was in a wedding, so I didn’t get to talk with him. However, the group was able to pull an original member to help fill in for a few shows – and they’re so good, that you really couldn’t have heard the difference.

Additionally, the camaraderie and “vibe” with these guys was awesome. You can tell that they’re at tightknit group, and always looking out for the greater good of the band. Even I, an outsider looking in, could sense a type of brotherhood that, combined with their mega-talent, could potentially catapult them to superstardom, as long as nothing gets in the way  and clouds their judgment.

It doesn’t seem that would be a problem. All of these guys seemed incredibly kind, humble, and down-to-earth, with disarming charm and a great sense of humor. (In this industry, it doesn’t hurt to have the ability to NOT take yourselves TOO seriously! It seems as though these boys have their heads on straight – a rarity in todays’ world.)

When we went to Primanti’s, they all decided to try out the famed sandwiches, Pittsburgh-style, and, complimented Pittsburgh multiple times, calling it a “beautiful” city. They’ve been here before, playing at Club Cafe and FATE Ultralounge, but seemed particularly amped about last night’s show at Diesel….and it’s no wonder: they’ve worked hard to get to where they are.

They all have a pretty equal share in the creative process. Lester describes them as, “lightening rods” – any one of them can be struck, at any time, by an awesome idea. Typically, if one of the guys comes up with an idea for a song, he’ll present it to the others, making each track a collaborative effort. As Chris explained, “Some of us are more inclined to words. Some of us are more inclined to music first. Our brains work in different ways, and we’re all a part of the writing process when it comes to our music.”

This respect for one another and each man’s unique talents is what helps hold them together. When I asked if they ever bickered, or got sick of touring together, the response was, to paraphrase, “not really.” Nick says that when it comes down to it, it’s “kind of like a marriage, we have our ups and downs, and when you’re traveling with people day in and day out, you tend to notice flaws. But, when it all comes down to it, I wouldn’t ever want to be in a group with any other people.” Jake chimed in that, “if we argue, we always know that we WANT to understand one another. We strive to enrich each other and to hold each other up.”

The bond is apparent because, when this group of guys is on stage, they truly come alive.

Their set, which began at 8pm, included original songs from their album, “Just Another Ghost” but also included an AWESOME cover of Jay Z’s “Empire State of Mind (New York)” as well as a mash-ups of their own songs with Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” and B.o.B’s “Airplanes.” Additionally, they covered “Hey Jude” by the Beatles, during which they invited opening act – local band 13AM – to join them on stage.

My favorite song of theirs has to be Texas Rain – but , that being said, their whole album positively rocks. They definitely put me in mind of OneRepublic or Coldpay – two of my absolute favorite bands.

If you missed last night’s show, you missed out (especially because of the part where, halfway through their set, they gave a SHOUT-OUT to Glitzburgh!! w00t!) but – fear not: you can buy their album on iTunes and can also order online at their website: http://www.sleeperstar.com

I predict big things for these great guys.

CHECK ‘EM OUT! … I’m not ‘encouraging’ – I am ‘demanding!’   🙂

@Sleeperstar on Twitter

Click here to find Sleeperstar on Facebook

Visit their MySpace page by clicking here.

I’ll leave you with some photos. Video coming soon!

(Oh, and the fact that there is a Pug on their website makes them EXTRA cool in my book!)

Psssst… here’s a tweet to us, from the band, pre-show: http://twitter.com/Sleeperstar/status/25447411918

“Interview w/ Ashley & her company @Glitzburgh and show tonight at @Dieselpgh!!! We go on at 9pm, gonna be a hot one!!!” ~ @Sleeperstar

Photos:

Me with Sleeperstar

With my Sleeperstar "Just Another Ghost" CD to listen to on the way home!

Yvette and I at the Sleeperstar show (she's who turned me on to this fabtastic band!)

The guys, post-interview, pre-show!

During the show


SLEEPERSTAR

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