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Sleigh Bells, the genre defying, ear-drum bursting duo is hitting Boulder Theater Monday Oct. 22. In anticipation for their show, The CU Independent talked to vocalist Alexis Krauss about the band’s unique sound, their relationship with MIA and more.
Your sound is so unique that it’s almost hard to describe to people. What music and sounds have had an influence on you as a band?
We’re influenced by so many different genres and we try to make music that sort-of transcends genre … What I mean by that is we listen to everything, from metal to pop to electronic to hip-hop, so when we think about making music we never feel hindered or limited by the type of music we feel like we can make. We write songs like “Kids” on Treats which is a very poppy with hip-hop like beats. Then we have songs like “Infinity Guitars” which are much more rock and punk oriented. So, we never feel restricted in that sense, by the music we have to make.
A lot of the influences for Sleigh Bells came from when Derek left Poison the Well. Derek, with Poison the Well, had been working within the confines of a traditional band structure … But, he was more interested in exploring the world of production and getting into beat making … So, he was interested in just testing out sounds and didn’t want to be restricted by any type of genre or any demographic of music listeners… In a lot of ways Sleigh Bells was sort of an attempt to rebel against all those confines and step outside the cage and make music that was really outside of the box.
Treats was such a success, and Reign of Terror manages to both capture the sound of that album and also take it somewhere new. What was the recording process like for Reign of Terror? Were you ever concerned about repeating yourself?
I don’t think we were ever concerned about making another Treats. Most of the pressure didn’t come from other people saying: “it’s a sophomore record. What kind of record are you going to make? Are you just going to make another Treats? That’s what people want, and if you try something new people are going to rebel against you…”
You know, it’s hard to make a second record. But Derek and I, we never felt that kind of pressure. The only kind of pressure that we felt was to continue making music that we thought was of the highest quality and continue to push ourselves forward as musicians and as songwriters. To do something that excited us. We didn’t want to make another Treats because we had already made Treats and we were happy with it. We wanted to push ourselves in a different direction and try something new.
You mentioned new music. Are you two already starting to work on your third album?
We are, yeah. We’re trying not to talk too much about it because we like the mystery of working on new music and not really letting anybody know anything about it until we actually release it. That being said, yes we are working on songs and we have just gotten a lot accomplished. So, we should have a new record out by 2013 for sure.
I recently came across something that said you worked with MIA on your debut album. Is that true? And if so, what was that experience like?
Actually it’s funny. People assume that she was the one helping us. But actually, it was the other way around. She helped us in that she was very supportive and was a champion of our music. She helped it get out there, and obviously being associated with somebody like MIA can only really do good things for you when you’re a new band and nobody knows you or gives a shit about you.
But, it was actually Derek who went into the studio with her and contributed production work to her record Maya. He produced a track on that record called, “Meds and Feds.” If you look into it, he contributed new ideas to it, but the base of that track is a sample from the track “Treats” on our first record… Oddly enough, when he was in the studio with her, that’s how he met our engineer. Shane was engineering some of her sessions … So it was a really good launching point for us and gave Derek a lot of confidence as a producer … She did a lot for our band and we’re grateful for all the help she provided to us early on.
You guys have been on tour a lot since your debut album came out; I think you’ve been to Denver at least three times. What do you love most about being on the road? What are some of the less fun parts?
We tour a lot. In Denver we did Larimer Lounge and The Ogden. We played Bluebird with Yeasayer, and I think we did The Ogden twice actually. So, a lot of times (laughes). We definitely love it, there’s a lot of positives. We’re very committed to this band and we’re very committed to bringing our music to as many people as possible. We have a really great range of people that come out to our shows. We have young kids who love pop music that come out, we have older men and women who are Metallica fans that come out, we have the whole demographic of kids who follow Pitchfork and Stereogum and a lot of indie rock blogs. We love that our records, while they can be very polarizing, encourage a lot of different listeners from a lot of different musical backgrounds…We love performing and we have a great crew that we work with that at this point are like our family. So we’re all out here together on the road doing what we love.
Things that are frustrating about tour? Like anything, it can turn a bit monotonous. Especially around this point, when we’re so eager. We have new material and we’re so eager to get it out there but we’re restricted to just playing Treats and Reign of Terror material. It’s less of an anger and negativity and more of a feeling of restlessness … If anything I think the monotony gets a little tiresome, but that would be the only negative.
Contact CU Independent Managing Editor Isa Jones at Alexandra.firstname.lastname@example.org.