Sleeper Agent ready for “hometown” Forecastle Festival

By BRADEN LAMMERS

Bowling Green-based pop-rock band Sleeper Agent has been generating a lot of buzz since the group formed in 2010.

Within nine months of playing their first show together the band –which features keyboardist Scott Gardner, female singer Alex Kandel, guitarist Josh Martin, singer-guitarist Tony Smith, bassist Lee Williams and drummer Justin Wilson– began recording their debut album “Celabrasion,” landed a deal with Mom + Pop records and signed to tour with Cage the Elephant, according to the group’s website.

Having toured with Cage the Elephant and playing festivals like Coachella and Austin’s South by Southwest –SXSW– the band’s audience has continued to grow and they have been featured in music publications like “Spin” and “Rolling Stone” as an up and coming group.

The band is taking the stage at Forecastle Festival X on Friday and a day before the show Kandel took time to talk with the News and Tribune.

Q: How do you feel about playing Forecastle this weekend?

A: I’m really excited. I’m actually already in Louisville. I sort of live here part-time now.

Q: Your band has received a lot of buzz from music magazines as a group to watch. What kind of weight, if any, does that carry for the group?

A: It’s always really encouraging when you get backed by some really great publications. I think we would’ve missed out on a lot of our fan base if it weren’t for some of them. They reach so many people. And even if just a fraction of those people just look you up, and a fraction of those people become fans and come to shows, that’s what it’s all about. You know, you want to find those people that connect with your music and that’s really cool when that happens.

Q: What are some other ways that you try to reach your audience?

A: By touring constantly. That’s really how you build a fan base. You take every tour you can when you start out. It doesn’t matter how similar sounding the band is [you’re touring with]. Because then you’re meeting a completely different fan base every time. And a part of them are going to be fans that stick with you for life and that’s really cool. They had something about [the band in “Rolling Stone’s” Women Who Rock Feature] in “US Weekly.” The amount of people that have read “US Weekly” are not going to be the type of people who have picked up “Spin” and seen us in there before.

Q: Have you played a lot of large festivals like Forecastle? How do they compare to club shows?

A: We’ve played a lot of festivals and they’re always a really fun environment. They’re totally different. Festivals are great because that’s how we’ve met a lot of bands that we’ve become really close friends with. That’s always really cool. And the crowds at festivals can be a lot larger, just naturally. That’s really sweet too. When you play a festival, while you’re performing, you can see people walking by and you’ll see someone stop and come into the crowd. You see that happen more and more as your set goes on, and that’s a really cool feeling. People have a choice. They could go get a funnel cake or something, but instead they come and watch you. It’s really cool.

Q: Is there an act you really want to see at Forecastle?

A: I really want to see Neko Case just because I have every album she’s ever made. Jeff the Brotherhood for sure. They played the Starry Nights Festival in Bowling Green, Ky. with us a few years ago and they’re really cool. And I’ve never seen My Morning Jacket live. I should probably do that, too.

Q: Do you feel like you’re playing a hometown festival?

A: Yeah, it always feels like that when we play in Louisville. Anytime we’ve played [Headliners] it’s kind of the closest we kind of get other than Nashville for family to come up. It’ll always feel like home. Anywhere in Kentucky is different than anywhere else in the world. Any time we cross the border it’s like this sigh of relief.

Q: Are you working on a new album?

A: Yes, very diligently. We have been writing constantly and I’m demoing now. We’re actually going to be getting a cabin, sort of near Lexington, for like a week and just kind of holing up in there and writing and stuff. Just kind of isolating ourselves. I’m really excited for this next record, already where it’s going and the rough demos that we have, I cant wait to put it out.

Q: Do you know when it will be out?

A: No idea. We work fast, so we will always shoot for sooner rather than later.

Q: Finally, the best food you get on the road that you can’t get at home?

A: Italian food. Where I grew up in Ohio there’s all these locally-owned family Italian restaurants that have their great-grandmother’s recipes and stuff. So, I got spoiled with that and it’s nowhere to be found down south, at least in Bowling Green. So, whenever we’re on the road I’m always on the hunt for a really nice local Italian restaurant. And there’s this place in Tucson…where they invented the chimichanga. It’s incredible.

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About hoosierhits
The music blog of the News and Tribune, Jeffersonville & New Albany, Ind.

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