Back To The Future Hearts Tour! Nov. 6th at EMU Convocation Center
SLEEPING WITH SIRENS drive right to the core of that place inside that connects people through music. Kellin Quinn’s intimate vocal revelations arrive drenched in a warm vulnerability that has stitched fans around the world to the band. Even as their penultimate album, Madness, promises to crack the mainstream wide open, the band remains steadfast in their determination to keep things welcoming (and sheltering) to the people who’ve been there since day one and the ever-increasing number of new fans alike.
Madness, frankly, is an unashamed masterpiece of melodic pop rock perfection, driven by an undercurrent of punk aggression and beautifully tempered by an overwhelming soulfulness and sensitivity. Together with Quinn, guitarists Jack Fowler and Nick Martin, the rhythm section of bassist Justin Hill and drummer Gabe Barham forge a vibrant musical collage in songs that serve the powerful audience connection SWS celebrates.
Even with 102 million streams, 83 million music video views, millions of social media followers, 80,000 tickets sold on the first leg of The World Tour (nearly ever show has sold out since 2012, including two nights, in advance, in London in 2015), mainstage appearances at the UK’s prestigious Reading Leeds festivals, over 700,000 in combined album sales and a #3 debut on Billboard’s Top 200, SWS maintains a firm grasp on their musical identity, with an authenticity that draws bigger and bigger crowds.
“The biggest foundation for all of us in the band is to stay true to ourselves,” declares Quinn. “We all sleep well at night knowing these are the songs we believe in. This is the music we want to put out there for the world. With Madness, our focus was in putting out an album like the ones we grew up listening to, the music that changed us.”
Fowler concurs. “We’ve all grown-up as songwriters and as musicians,” he says. “There’s a lot of new, different sounding stuff, but we still maintain our roots. It goes from the most punk rock sounding stuff we’ve done to the prettiest ballad we’ve done. We wanted to give everybody a taste of everything we do – the short, fast punk songs, the pop rock songs and the emotional ballads. It’s the best album we’ve done, hands down.”
Produced by hit-maker John Feldmann (Good Charlotte, Panic! At The Disco), Madness is an electric celebration of all that is SWS and everything they represent.
“Kick Me,” which went to #1 on Billboard’s Trending 140 Chart, boldly declares confident defiance in the face of would be bullies. “We Like It Loud” may very well dominate rock radio, even as it will assuredly elicit massive sing-alongs in theaters. More than a lowest common denominator celebration of sound, the song goes deeper, championing the disenfranchised in the way rock anthems do best. “Better Off Dead” confronts the feelings of hopelessness that drive young people to self-harm, offering the perspective of people who lived through it and grew to lead fulfilling lives after school. Alternately, “Madness” is a ballad as delicate and timeless as the most evocative songs of rock’s greatest bands, an optimistic and earnest love letter to a fallen loved one.
Quinn takes pride in the fact that Madness is a filler-free affair. Not one track is skip-worthy. “Every song has a place, a home, and feels like it belongs on the same album with the other songs,” he says. “You can play the album front to back, all 13 songs, and it could all flow as a live set. It starts with something ‘in-your-face,’ then keeps the momentum going, before it slows down for a few, then we bring it all back up.”
The nonstop social media buzz, the Alternative Press recognition as Artist Of The Year, it’s all emblematic of the groundswell SWS built at what feels like a lightning pace. Alternative Press, Rock Sound, Kerrang!, Outburn and Blunt regularly feature them on the cover. The devotion of the SWS faithful is potent and palpable every time Quinn’s voice ascends to his signature banshee-like wail on record, in videos or live on the stage.
“We’re a very tight knit group,” explains Barham. “We have the same ideas about everything, as far as the direction that we’re going.”
Quinn’s incredible voice and the easygoing affability of all five guys endears them to a diverse audience, people more friends than fans, people who connect with the band’s energized tales of childhood woe, tender love letters, and direct encouragements to seize the day, triumph over heartache and pushback against the hater brigades. No matter how big Sleeping With Sirens becomes, they haven’t backed down from offering only the most courageous examinations of what they are as people and as a rock band.