Artist Interview: 1-on-1 With Sleeping at Last

I have been basically stuck in the indie rock scene for the last six months and every band that I find that fits this mold just impresses me more than the last.  The band that I am with here today is no different.  Matching heartfelt lyrics to a voice that can send chills down your spine, this band brings a true sense of the word talent to the stage.  Their music is epic and I am pulled closer with every strum of the guitar.  Sit with me today as I am excited to introduce to you the talented group of guys in Sleeping at Last.

Where did you come up with that name?

(Ryan) Well, when it came time to decide on a name, a friend and myself were in a bookstore and I jokingly picked up a poetry book and said, “Whatever page I turn to will have our new band name!”  So I flipped the page and “Sleeping At Last” was the title of a poem.  When we saw it, we thought that it fit pretty well and so it stuck.

How long have you guys been performing?

(Dan) We have been together for a while now.  It’s just about ten years that we’ve been playing together.  We started out pretty young.

Where are you from originally?

(Dan) We both have grown up in and still live in Wheaton, Illinois.

How the heck did you get a song on my favorite show of all time, Grey’s Anatomy?

(Ryan) Well, they were kind enough to reach out to us and request the usage of our song “Quicksand.” It was quite a treat to receive such an amazing email.  Grey’s is one of my fiancee’s favorite shows ever, so it was fun to be able to share the news! It was an amazing opportunity for us!

How many times have you watched that episode?

(Ryan) (Laughs) Well, we’ve only seen the full episode once or twice.  But I’m sure we’ve checked out the spot our song appeared a few more times.

What is the largest crowd that you guys have ever played for?

(Dan) We’ve been really lucky to open up for a few bigger artists.  The biggest audiences would probably have been either when we opened for Switchfoot at a few state fairs, or when we opened up for Alanis Morissette.  Both crowds were probably in the four to six thousand people range.  They both were a lot of fun.

Do you have jobs outside of music?

(Ryan) We’re very grateful to be able to focus on music full time. So, no – neither of us have jobs outside of Sleeping At Last.

Do you guys have a favorite venue?

(Ryan) I have a few favorites but PARK WEST in Chicago is probably my all time favorite.. We actually have our upcoming album release show there on September 19th. Can’t wait! Such a beautiful and comfortable venue. Love it!

What are your thoughts on the passing of Michael Jackson?

(Dan) It’s very very sad.  I guess the saddest thing is thinking about what a rough life he must have had.  Between his family and fame and all the tabloid stuff, it had to have been a very difficult life to lead.  He was so famous that it was probably hard to find some one that would treat him like a normal person.

Who are some of your biggest influences?

(Ryan) Early influences for me would be Radiohead, Sunny Day Real Estate, Bjork, but in the last decade, I’ve been really inspired by Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole, Wilco, etc.  (Dan) I grew up being a huge Beatles fan.  They are probably my number one with Radiohead being a close second.

Describe your genre in one word.

(Ryan) Gentle?

If you could tour with anyone in the market today whom would it be?

(Ryan) Oh boy, there’s a LOT of folks we’d LOVE to tour with.  All of our favorite, influential bands! Too many to name in fact.

What would you be doing if you were not playing music?

(Ryan) Not really sure.  I can’t imagine it, to be honest. Music has been my passion for as long as I can remember. If it wasn’t music, I’m sure I would pursue something creative as well.  Photography? Film? Not sure.  (Dan) I really don’t know if I could really do anything but music either.  It’s what I love to do.  But if I had to do something else I think I would like to do something in film.  I’m a huge movie junkie and I think I would love to do some of the behind the scenes stuff.

What are your thoughts on MySpace?

(Dan) It seems to have become a little less friendly as a social networking site.  It’s become more of a promotional tool than anything else. It’s great for bands because it’s an easy way to get your music out there for people to hear, but it seems to be falling out of favor with the general population.

Are you guys on Twitter?

(Ryan) Yes, sir.  We update fairly frequently.

Tell me about the new album.

(Ryan) Well, it’s called “Storyboards” and we’re very proud of it! To us, it feels like a bit of a departure stylistically. Maybe that feeling stems from the fact that we introduced several new instruments into our sound on this record. Ukuleles, a little bit of banjo, etc.  Lots of organic, acoustic instruments. Loads of strings and we had the privilege of working with several folks that we admire! Van Dyke Parks (who worked a lot with Beach Boys, Joanna Newsom, Randy Newman and even U2) wrote an orchestral arrangement for us, which was such an incredible experience! We also had several other guests appear on the album.  Jeremy Larson (an excellent solo artist) wrote a string arrangement on a song, as well as played some strings on it. Ryan Francesconi (who is a member of Joanna Newsom’s band) and others! Truly a treat. Overall, it’s a softer, gentler, but slightly more upbeat collection of songs. Hope you like ’em!

Where can I get some Sleeping at Last merchandise?

(Dan) At We’ve got all our t-shirts and CD’s and everything else available there.

Do you guys have any thoughts on a nation wide tour this year to support the new album?

(Ryan) Yes, we’re developing plans for just that now.  More than likely, we’ll do a few weeks in the fall, as well as several sections of touring next year! Can’t wait to share these songs live.

I love your website.  Who developed that?

(Ryan) The paintings were by an INCREDIBLE artist named Geoff Benzing ( and the website was assembled/developed by the amazingly talented, Jim Alleman ( – they did a fantastic job!

If you could only play one song for the rest of your career what song would you choose?

(Ryan) Ouch! That’s a tough question.  It’s like choosing your favorite child! (Laughs) You just can’t do that to me.

If you could meet anyone alive or dead who would it be and why?

(Ryan) (Thinks)  Also a tough one. I’d love to meet the folks at Pixar.  They are responsible for nearly ALL of my favorite films ever so, it’d be nice to tell them how much I love them face to face.  (Dan) I think I would probably have to say Paul McCartney.  Like I said I’m a huge Beatles fan and he’s one person that I really think I might get emotional if I were to meet in person.

Is there a ringleader amongst you guys?

(Dan) I think we’re pretty democratic.  Every decision gets tossed around quite a bit before it gets made.  We’re actually pretty bad at making decisions.  In fact, I’m having hard time trying to end this sentence.

Who writes all the songs?

(Ryan) I write the core of the songs.  The foundation, the lyrics, etc. and then when things are substantial enough and feel promising we lay the instruments on top of that.

PC or Mac?

(Ryan) MAC! No question.  I’m a bit Apple obsessed. My iPhone is a family member.  (Dan) MAC.  I converted about three or four years ago and can’t say I’ll ever go back.

Have you ever written with other artists?

(Ryan) No. We’ve always written the songs ourselves.. Not entirely against the idea, but it’s always very important to us make these songs as personal as possible.  I sort of approach songwriting like a journal, and in a journal, so it tends to be a very introverted process.

What are you drinking on stage?

(Dan) Water.  Always water.  But I did develop a bit of a taste for Red Bull on our last tour.

Where do you see yourselves in five years?

(Ryan) Celebrating the 5 year anniversary of you asking us this question. (I stole that joke from Mitch Hedberg!) (Thinks) Well, we hope very much to continue making personal music and to keep stretching in our abilities and craft for as long as we possibly can! We sincerely love our job and can’t imagine doing anything else so, our hope and our goal is to keep doing it for as long as possible – keep making albums and keep playing music for folks that are kind enough to listen!

What do you want to be remembered for when this is all said and done?

(Ryan) Our hope in all of this, is to create something that people can relate to.  Something that can possibly offer hope, encouragement and just understanding when life sends it’s challenges, but can also be there to celebrate the amazing parts of being alive as well. Music is a unique medium in that way, that people allow it into their worlds, and that’s something that we sincerely appreciate about it. We feel privileged at the thought of something that we’ve created, being the backdrop to someone’s life in a small way and in that small moment, we hope that love and hope is illuminated in our songs.

I always let the artist get the last word.  Go.

(Dan) Be Excellent To Each Other.