“I literally just got off stage in the middle of nowhere,” says Sleeping with Sirens guitarist Jack Fowler, calling into Guitar World from a tour stop in Austria. “We were in some dirty, sweaty room with our buddies Pierce the Veil and Issues. It was nutty—the most punk rock show we’ve played in a long time.”
Back when they released their 2010 debut, With Ears to See and Eyes to Hear, Sleeping with Sirens certainly had a lot of punk spirit running through their veins—and their music.
Over the course of their next three full-lengths, however, the band—which also includes singer Kellin Quinn, co-guitarist Nick Martin, bassist Justin Hills and drummer Gabe Barham—revealed themselves to be in a possession of a heightened, and incredibly sharp, melodic sensibility, and developed into a unit that was able to bring the post-hardcore fury one minute and deliver a beautifully crafted, hooky pop-rocker the next.
Their new and fifth full-length, Gossip, continues this evolution, resulting in their most melodic and compositionally mature record yet.
“I think we’re playing to our strengths on this one,” Fowler says. As for the sound of the music, he continues, “it’s not hard rock, it’s not emo rock, it’s just a straight-up rock and roll record. We wanted to really make something that was electric and timeless, while at the same time breaking some barriers.”
Some of those broken barriers, as it turns out, had to do with guitars. “There are certain songs on the record where I’d sit in a room with [producer] David Bendeth and he’d be like, ‘Hey, at the end of this song let’s just turn on every pedal and go for it,’ ” Fowler recalls. “So all the weird noises and stuff you hear on the record, in songs like ‘Gossip’ and ‘Empire to Ashes,’ it’s things that sound like samples but they’re not. It was a lot of just sitting in a room with Bendeth and cranking out crazy sounds and crazy ideas, because that’s the kind of producer he is. He definitely took us all out of our comfort zones.”
Songwriting-wise, Fowler points to two songs on Gossip—the anthemic first single, “Legends,” and a swelling, atmospheric ballad titled “Hole in My Heart”—as standouts. Regarding the former, he says, “I could listen to it every single day and it wouldn’t get old.” As for “Hole in My Heart,” he continues, “It has this eerie, dark sound, but Kellin does these really high little Seventies throwback, Zeppelin-style runs. Onstage I can just see it with production and projections and fire and all the fun stuff we’re gonna be doing soon. I can’t wait to play these songs live.”
When it comes to playing live, Fowler, an avowed guitar nerd, says that he tends to bring as many as eight to 10 instruments out on the road with him, to make sure he always has “the perfect guitar for the song.” He estimates that his collection has swelled to somewhere between 30 and 40 instruments at this point, many of which can be seen in the photos he posts on his Instagram feed. “All my friends see the photos and joke around, like, ‘Just give me one!’ ” he says with a laugh.
“But I can’t get rid of them. I’m literally a guitar hoarder. I hold on to everything. “I guess I’m just a very unsatisfied guitar player,” Fowler continues. “I always think there’s something out there that sounds better than what you have, and I’m always trying to find it. I’m constantly in search of the perfect sound…and I feel like I’m getting there.”
Epiphone Elitist 1963 ES-335 Dot reissue, PRS Custom 22, 1960s-era Gibson SG, 1960s-era Fender Stratocaster “George”
Diezel, Tyler, Naylor 50-watt, Friedman
Strymon BigSky, Strymon Mobius, Strymon Timeline, T-Rex Whirly Verb… “The list goes on and on. We used so many.”