Sleeper Agent - ‘About Last Night’ track by track

March 25, 2014 by AltPress

Sleeper Agent - ‘About Last Night’ track by track

About Last Night, as the title implies, is a very personal record. It is so personal that we decided to make it very public. As I sit on a corduroy sectional in an empty hotel room in Washington, D.C., sipping a diet soda, I would like to give you a rundown of the record. With every great story, there's a protagonist and antagonist. This album takes that idea and puts it to bed. Everyone in the band has contributed an idea, a thought, a line and their own interpretation. These are only my thoughts.

Written By: Guitarist/Vocalist Tony Smith

“Be Brave”
The simple three chords and organ melody that drive this song have been around since the Celabrasion demo sessions. Originally a memorable bridge in a forgettable song, “Be Brave” came into fruition as I sat on the back of a golf cart, surrounded by the sonic onslaught of several dance tents at Coachella 2012. The lyrical content spawns from a blurry night with a longtime female friend. A long, freezing post-bar walk and a warm bed lead to a lengthy conversation that ended in a mutual "I'm lonely, I'm terrified of growing up, and I'm glad you're here tonight." Platonic bedside chats and awkward morning-after conversations aside, this song can also be viewed as the culmination of the experience the entire band felt on a day-to-day basis during our first few national tours.

“Waves”
At its most cynical, “Waves” is a man-behind-the-curtain reveal of everything we thought was magical when we were young(er), yet it's also full of excitement and joy. The central guitar riff comes from an uncompleted 2010 song by our keyboardist, Scott Gardner. The lyrics were pinned after a long supporting stint with Circa Survive and Map & Atlases in the fall of 2011. After several bouts of bad luck (including, but not limited to, a freezing night sleeping in a broke-down van on the side of the interstate) we all nearly lost our minds. I got home, hugged my parents and recorded a bedroom demo (below) that we would eventually combine with Scott's charming riff to create one of our greatest contradictions to date.
 


“Take It Off”
Our follow-up to Celabrasion was, originally, a very safe, blues-punk-pop-rock return to form. A mentor sensed the tension we felt and suggested we get away. A month later we drove three hours out of the way into the mountains of Kentucky and introduced hundreds of pounds of equipment, food and beverages to a quaint and secluded cabin. Josh Martin, our lead guitarist, began playing a riff that dragged everyone out of their post dinner "food coma" and into the makeshift rehearsal space. The song poured out in mere minutes, and we realized the change of environment was healthy and needed. The lyrics come from an argumentative late-night spat at 2012's Hangout Fest in Alabama. After an all-night drive, we were all in different head-spaces. Things were said, fun was had, egos flared and we shed our bullshit. Take it off.

“Haunting Me”
Originally intended to be a Jackson Five tribute, “Haunting Me,” evolved into a sultry, late-night revelation. The melody, intending to be sugary sweet and overwhelming, became a musical account of a bizarre conversation with a childhood friend who'd simply partaken in too much. Getting older is interesting, and watching your friends and loved ones age with you is even worse. The song is a mid-conversation catch-up with someone you love but are having a hard time recognizing. Ultimately, it's questioning why you let the ones you love the most hurt themselves and possibly, inadvertently, you encourage their behavior.

“Lorena”
Lorena is a fictional character that I see a lot of myself in. She's a saloon prostitute "looking for a way out" in a popular frontier novel. I picked up the book for a couple of dollars at a truck stop to pass the time a couple of years ago. While the reality in the song runs deep, I reserve from saying too much. The song was written in the early morning hours after a bit of time off. It's special to us all.

“Bad News”
This is the first song we wrote for About Last Night. We were in a state of confusion and disarray. Do we continue writing playful two-minute punk-pop songs or do we attempt something "meaningful"? Funny enough, the music from this song comes from a quick break during rehearsal. We were jamming to Darth Vader's intro music, and we strayed into what would become “Bad News” opening riff. Lyrically, it continues the theme from “Haunting Me,” expanding on the emotions to hear the other side of the story. It's a tug-o-war of conflicting emotions: "Who wants to stay in love with you?/I just want to stay in love with you/It's bad, bad news/It's bad, bad news?"

“Me On You”
Written on the road while promoting our first album, Celabrasion, “Me On You” is a send-off to the most acidic type of relationships. Its Stockholm syndrome-esque lyrics are about uprooting the bad weeds in life and witnessing them grow back incessantly stronger over and over again.

“Shut”
Originally penned for the soundtrack to Tim Burton's Frankenweenie, the track was deemed too dark and nearly scrapped all together. Luckily, everyone else we played the demo for were very taken with it, and “Shut” lived to see the light of day. The lyrics play like vignettes of a series of vulnerable creatures and people. It's about struggle, opposition and the inevitability of acceptance.

“Impressed”
“Impressed” is a rhythmic and sonic love letter to one of my favorite bands, Antony And The Johnsons. Its near chamber-like arrangement comes from an urge to write a song unlike any that had come before it. It's visceral, haunting and a little demented. It's about the need for acceptance the deep impression someone can leave on you.

“Good Job”
The ultimate walk-of-shame song, “Good Job” is an anthem about fucking up and being okay with it. If you set failure as your goal, you'll always win. It's about surviving by just getting by. It's a battle cry for the inner free-loading underachiever in us all. The music and lyrics were conceived while watching a rerun of Vh1's Where Are They Now?.

“Eat You Up”
“Eat You Up” comes from a place of total self-awareness. You know what you're doing is wrong and why you're doing it, but you can't help but feel that's it's all for the right reasons. Break yourself down to build yourself up again, and flippantly cast it all aside to live as loud as you can. It's that devil-on-shoulder moment. I guess the angel got stuck in traffic. There are six demo versions of this song. Most were low-tempo and dark until we witnessed !!! (Chk Chk Chk) play live and aspired to create a similar hyped-up, dance-fueled vibe.

“Sweetheart”
Alex [Kandel, vocals] and I were bored one night in 2012 and challenged ourselves to write a song together for the first time. Her favorite poet is W.B. Yeats so we pulled a line from one of his poems and ran with it. We ended up penning the final words to conclude a narrative we'd been hinting at in all of the others songs we’d written for this album. "Sweetheart, don't love too long, sweetheart don't love at all." I consider it the epilogue to the whole experience.

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