By Jeff Goins, Editor
After recently seeing Sleeping At Last in concert at the Exit/In in Nashville, I was so blown away by their performance (which included a string quintet) that I wrote them a letter. To my surprise, they wrote back, and out of our little exchange, we ended up with the following interview:
WRECKED: Where did you come up with the band name Sleeping At Last? Does it have anything to do with the fact that your music is great to go to sleep to (I mean that in a good way)?
RYAN: Well, one day we were in a bookstore and at the time we were in dire need of a band name, so we picked up a book of poetry and i jokingly said “alright.. whatever page I flip to right now, will be our band name!” and it was a poem called “Sleeping At Last,” and we felt like it fit quite nicely and it stuck.
WRECKED: What is the song “Needle and Thread” about?
RYAN: “Needle & Thread” has a pretty large theme.. in a nutshell, it’s very much about death and how when it’s near us, it seems to refocus our eyes in so many ways.. and re-calibrate our priorities. And when those feelings begin, we remember that love is really the only clear answer to our existence. The song is about the realization of that. It’s about how love has shaped us, but also how the absence of it has bruised us.
WRECKED: Every year, you release a free Christmas song – isn’t that right? How did that get started, and is 2008’s Christmas free download still available?
RYAN: We recorded “Silver Bells” first, several years back for fun and ever since, it just sort of became something we really enjoyed doing, so we made a tradition of it! Yes, our 2008 song “A Cradle in Bethlehem,” I think is still up on www.virb.com/sleepingatlast.
WRECKED: How did you come up with that cool riff on “Say”, and why is it so darn catchy?
RYAN: Thanks for saying it’s catchy! I can’t completely remember how it came about exactly, but I remember that the words to the chorus of that song came at the exact same moment as the guitar line.. which for me is very rare.. and something I always appreciate!
WRECKED: What inspires you? I mean, at the end of the day, when music feels more like a job than a privilege, what makes you truly come alive?
RYAN: Great question! I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Hawaii several times and that is a place where I consistently feel inspired. Also, over the last couple years I’ve become pretty obsessed with BBC Nature Series.. David Attenborough has made several incredible series about Animals and other creatures.. “Planet Earth,” “Blue Planet,” “Life of Mammals,” etc.. I’ve found myself completely inspired and amazed by each of ’em. Incredible stuff.. to me, each series somehow points out these amazing details and it reminds me so clearly of the incredible designs that surround us in this world, and what a gift that it all is. Aside from that, for the very same reason, I’ve become really inspired by a radio show/podcast called “Radio Lab”.. it’s incredible! There so much more, but I don’t want to ramble on too much!
WRECKED: If your voice could sound like any singer of all time, who would it sound like?
RYAN: Hmmm.. I’d have to say, Nat King Cole. I think he might have the greatest voice of all time.. so, I wouldn’t complain if I woke up tomorrow and sounded like Nat King Cole!
WRECKED: Are you guys a “Christian band”? What does that mean to you, and how is faith incorporated into the music you write and play?
RYAN: I hate to use the old “We’re not a ‘Christian band,’ we’re Christians in a band..” thing, but … since we began, we’ve felt very passionate about making our music available to anyone that was kind enough to listen, no matter who they are or what they believe in.. We’ve also always aimed to write music that is as sincere as possible and that incorporates everything that means a lot to us. Our faith is a very big part of our lives, so naturally it comes through in our songs in a lot of ways. We never try to tone it down or up. And that’s sort of how we’ve approached our faith and music from the beginning. We’re just privileged to play music for anyone with an open ear.
WRECKED: When does your next CD come out?
RYAN: We’re planning on a late summer release! Perhaps early August? Can’t wait.. we JUST nailed down tracking and mixing dates.
WRECKED: Will it be an EP, or a full-length?
RYAN: It will be a good ol’ fashioned full-length.
WRECKED: What can we be looking forward to? Any info you can sneak us without getting into trouble?
RYAN: Well, we’re definitely enjoying a bit of different instrumentation for us on this one.. I’ve recently become in love with playing the Ukulele, so there is already several songs written out of that.. but it will also feature lots of strings (we love strings.), lots of pianos and acoustic guitars.. a touch of harpsichord and lots of other toys! I’d say overall it has a softer feel in some ways.. a bit more intimate? BUT I’m terrible at explaining our music, so feel free to disregard anything I’m saying! We hope you like it.. we’re very excited about it and can’t wait to finish it up and let it see the light of day!
ED: Lastly, in our online magazine “Wrecked for the Ordinary,” we like people to share about issues that “wreck” them – things that they see that aren’t right in the world that disturb their comfort and cause them to act. What wrecks you… and maybe Sleeping At Last as a whole?
RYAN: There are definitely a lot of issues that fit into that category, unfortunately. Not too long ago, we had the pleasure of working with Invisible Children, to help raise awareness and to find aid for those suffering in Northern Uganda. And most recently, we’ve been very proud and privileged to be a part of some Humane Society campaigns that strive to raise awareness towards stopping animal abuse, making wise decisions in our food choices and appreciating the work of local animal shelters.
Jeff graduated from Illinois College, a small liberal arts school, with a degree in Spanish and Religion. He lives in Nashville, TN. He works for Adventures in Missions, edits this silly little magazine, and loves to do new things. He just got married.