Caleb Hodges, lead vocalist of Art of Sleeping, is a night owl. “Ever since I was a young boy I had trouble falling asleep. That’s just what I’ve done my whole life. It sounds token, but when I was a teenager I would end up plucking the guitar or writing songs down. I guess lack of sleep turned into an art form for me. And for some people, sleeping is an art form in itself.”
So it was during the wee hours of the morning that Caleb was at his most creative, stirring not only the songs of Brisbane’s Art of Sleeping into existence, but also the name itself. And while his musical counterparts may not share the same sleep-related frustrations, they do see eye-to-eye on a creative level.
“There’s a theme that we all agree on when it comes to our music. We aim to always have a level of integrity musically and lyrically. We don’t want to create something that feels contrived or forced. We want to create something that’s real and something that resonates.”
It all started when Caleb met Jean-Paul Malengret (drums) and Jarryd Shuker (keys) through mutual friends. Jean-Paul and Jarryd had already formed a bond that was founded on a series of innocent jam sessions and noting that they had similar musical interests, invited Caleb along.
The band’s origins may not be all that remarkable, but it was from these humble and rather ordinary beginnings that the five-piece developed naturally, away from any pre-conceived idea of what their sound would become.
“When JP and I started jamming together we never played with the intention to become a ‘band’ so to speak. We wanted to keep it to us just doing what we enjoyed and not forcing anything from it,” explains Jarryd. “Though, when Caleb brought in some of his ideas for us to write with, that desire to keep it to just playing tunes disappeared, and we suddenly wanted to record.”
Stumbling upon guitarist Patrick Silver at a blues night in Brisbane’s West End, the then reluctant ‘band’ extended an invitation to join their modest musical collective. When the time came to recruit a bass guitarist, Jean-Paul’s brother and Jarryd’s schoolmate Francois was the perfect choice, adding new drive to the band.
From there, the band honed their sound, combining the diverse elements and influences that would later see them win hearts with breakthrough single ‘Empty Hands’. But beneath the driving choruses and soaring riffs for which Art of Sleeping are known, there is a message that delves a little deeper.
“I’m in love with the reality of life,” explains Caleb. “That reality that life isn’t always so happy and perfect. People aren’t perfect. I’m not perfect. I feel that these songs give that a voice. It’s about letting go and being honest about how we all are. Laying it all out.”
Whether it be the broken father-son relationship explored in anger and accusation in second single ‘Above The Water’, or the yearning repeated question of “are you hollow?” in title track ‘Like A Thief’, there is no denying the conviction in Caleb’s words.
Despite taking the high road in a lyrical sense, musically speaking, Art of Sleeping packs some serious punch in a live setting - a notion widely accepted on Australia’s East Coast where the band have sold out numerous shows in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
From behind his beloved Maton guitar - the sole material survivor of a fire that claimed his house six years ago - Caleb’s passionate vocal growls almost in defiance of the microphone that stands before him. But in no way is instrumentation left in the shadows, with each passing riff from Pat, melody from Jarryd and rhythm from brother team Jean-Paul and Francois lifting the dynamism and live ambience to new heights.
Produced by Brisbane’s Yanto Browning at Airlock Studios, EP "Like A Thief’" captures the powerful vitality and potent lyricism that hits hard at Art of Sleeping’s live shows. Yanto had contacted the band after he had heard a demo version of ‘Shoulders’ floating around online. After some brief discussions and sharing of ideas, it was clear the understanding and appreciation for authenticity was mutual, and the band began their in-studio work.
“We really wanted the music to be genuine and so there are no tricks or special effects. We tracked whole EP live and Yanto was on board with the same ideas, leaving an recording that we felt captured our energy and sound on stage,” says Jarryd.
Along with their recording and touring, the band generated considerable industry interest. From record labels to booking agents and festival promoters, everyone wanted a piece of Art of Sleeping; something that buoyed the band’s creativity and thirst for great songwriting. Now with "Like A Thief" ready for release, Art of Sleeping look to feed the hunger for growth and honesty that has driven them this far.
Although it’s something we can rest easy knowing, Caleb it seems, faces a few more restless nights yet.
"Like A Thief" is out now.
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