With their effervescent and charming garage pop, Sleeper Agent is a band that should be on your playlist. Made up of Scott Gardner (keys), Alex Kandel (vocals), Tony Smith (vocals/guitar), Lee Williams (bass), Justin Wilson (drums), and Josh Martin (guitar), this Bowling Green, Kentucky sextet has been causing a storm with their debut single “Get It Daddy,” and it’s high intensity music video featuring a slew of piñata carnage. Described as “a dizzying school’s-out anthem about growing up,” the song features joyful choruses and excitable rocking riffs.
September 27th marks the release of the band’s debut album. Entitled, Celebrasion, the album was produced by Jay Joyce (Emmylou Harris, The Whigs) and is a raucous is a roller coaster ride of emotions. Listening to the album you will love every track on here. The dual vocals of Smith and Kandel are pure delight. She sings her heart out and Smith provides the perfect. Songs boast joyous youth, growing up, hardened love, featuring some sick licks.
ESBMusic caught up with singer-guitarist Tony Smith to talk about their upcoming tour, their musical inspirations and influences, and what brought them together:
ESBM: How did you come up with your band name?
TS: In 2006, as sophomore at Western Kentucky University, I sitting on my bed doing some last minute Algebra homework while watching Battlestar Galactica. The character’s were throwing around the term “sleeper agent” continuously as a reference to an unaware Cylon (a race of cybernetic
robots… NERDGASM!). I thought it sounded like a great name for a rowdy rock band. Two years later, I got the chance put the two ideas together.
ESBM: How did you guys all come together?
TS:Justin and I had come up in different bands over the years but were always aware of each other. We bonded over beers at Tidball’s (a local bar and music venue) because we were some of the first kids in our friend circle to turn 21. This lead to us envisioning what would become Sleeper Agent.
Alex opened for us in 2008. She was 15 at the time and we never imagined that she would play with us eventually. A couple of years later she uploaded some original songs onto her Myspace and I sent her an email. We picked up her from school, had lunch and began talking about we wanted from music and what we wanted to do. Luckily, our ideas and aligned. She didn’t start playing with us till several months later after she pestered me on Facebook, almost demanding that we get this thing going. Scott and Lee were the rhythm section from my previous band, Downtown Handshake. Instead of seeking out new players, I just invited them into the Sleeper Agent family. We met Josh while recording Celabrasion. He came in the studio to do some session work with us. We liked him so much that we decided to keep him on board.
ESBM: Who are your influences?
TS: Our influences range from folk twee music to lo-fi sludge rock. We’re all pretty big hip-hop fans too. Andrew WK was a big influence when it came to energetic anthems. Jay Reatard showed us that pop and punk could co-exist without that dreadful 90’s connotation. Marc Bolan taught us how to be
sexy and The xx showed us how male/female vocals could feed off each other.
ESBM: What inspires you to write? Will you write a song and then the lyrics or the other way around?
TS: I usually write the riffs and melodies months before there are lyrics. If I try to write lyrics immediately, it feels contrived and dishonest. Lyrics usually flow from one on one conversations with we’ve had with friends, loved ones or “enemies.”
ESBM: After putting together your first demo in 2010 things started to happen pretty quickly for you guys with getting signed and everything. What was that experience like?
TS:Hectic. Overwhelming. Amazing.
ESBM: In many of the songs you write from Alex?s perspective, being a guy do you find it easy writing from a girl’s point of view?
TS:I wouldn’t necessarily say I write from a girl’s perspective. I write from one my best friend’s perspectives. Since most of the topics are androgynous, it’s not too far off from writing for myself. She gets final say though.
ESBM: If you weren?t playing music what would you be doing?
TS: Looking for a job in the graphic design field. Justin, Alex, Lee and Scott would still be trying to get their degrees.
ESBM: You’re heading on the Weezer Cruise next January. Have you ever played on a boat before? What destination are you looking forward to seeing?
TS:Can’t say I’ve ever played on a boat. Should be very exciting. The stage is the destination I’m most looking forward to see. Whether it’s us, Yuck, Wavves, Dinosaur Jr or Weezer.
ESBM:On October 16th you?re going on tour with Circa Survive what stops are
you looking forward to the most?
TS: Being on the road is better than being home. Anywhere but here.
ESBM:What is the next single you guys plan to release?
TS: No idea.
ESBM: You guys have a lot of fun videos on the road. Will there be another band vs. Food challenge?
TS: We’re hoping there’s a 72 ounce steak challenge in our future.
ESBM: “Get It Daddy” was named iTunes single of the week and you also offer a free download on your website. Do you feel that spreading free music helps to get more fans and encourages people to buy more of your music?
TS: Absolutely. When I download a song from a blog that I really enjoy, sometimes I’ll go out and buy the record. I’ve found some of my favorite bands that way. Just don’t give it all away too soon, you want fans to be able discover more for themselves. It makes it more gratifying.
ESBM: Alex, what is it like being the only girl in the group?
TS: She’s treated equally like another dude and acts accordingly. The only real special privilege she gets is that she doesn’t have to haul the heavier equipment.
ESBM: We love the thrashing of the pinata’s in the video for “Get It Daddy,” how did you come up with concept.
TS: Director Ryan Reichenfeld wrote up a treatment that we absolutely adored. Thus, the video was born.
ESBM: September your album is coming out, it is also the 20th anniversary month of Nirvana’s Nevermind. Were you fans of the band? What does the album mean to you?
TS: As young teenagers, I think we all had our “Nirvana-phase”. It’s a great
pop record that opened several doors to other great bands for me in junior high. However, at 24 I find In Utero to be more gratifying and rewarding. Nevermind is what got my attention though.