Return of the Sleepy West

Simon Wooldridge | Bendigo Weekly | 12-Oct-2017

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IT’S been a long time between Bendigo gigs for local blues-alt-country five-piece, Sleepy West. 

“Bendigo Blues and Roots Music Festival last year – so two weeks shy of a year which is crazy,” front man Joel English told the Weekly. 

“To be honest, this year has just gone so fast, and we have all had big things happen. With five in the band – two in Bendigo and the others scattered around Melbourne, it can be hard to work out.”

Sleepy West get re-acquainted with Bendigo at the Golden Vine on Saturday, October, 21.

English is joined in Sleepy West by Jordan Allen on guitar, Brenton Rice on keyboards, Kai Lane-Uren on bass, and drummer Jayme Tolley.

“We haven’t played there in so long. Too long,” English said. “So we’re pumped to get back on the stage at the Vine and play our first local show in ages. It’s always nice playing to our hometown.” 

The band has been working on new material. A third EP – following Tortures (2013), and Sleepy West (2016) – is planned for early 2018. Some of the new songs may get an airing at the Vine. 

“We might sneak a couple in. We have a new track called Coming Down, and maybe a couple others. We’ll see if they hold up at rehearsal and take it from there.”

English said the band had a couple weekends in November to hit the studio. 

“I’m really pumped for this one,” he said.

“We’re working with an awesome engineer-producer, and it will be cool to see what a fresh set of ears and ideas will give birth to. I feel like we’re at a bit of defining point as a band. 

“We all know each other well, and we’re working out where we want to take it; how we want to sound. Previously we recorded our favourite tracks at the time, which is great fun, but doesn’t always deliver the most cohesive of EPs. This time we’re being quite deliberate as to which songs we’re choosing.”

Their song writing process is collaborative. 

“I bring the bare bones,” English said. 

“I often get an idea on paper and then sit on it for a week or so. Then I bring it to rehearsal, show it to the guys and they twist it, and bend it, and take bits out, add bits in, and shape it into an actual ‘song’. Then we test it at shows, see if it works, and go from there.”

The Sleepy West sound draws from a variety of influences. This shows up in their shows. 

“Our sets go from soft heart-breakers, to country to rock to funk,” English said.  

Despite Sleepy West’s absence this past year, English has kept a close eye on the Bendigo music scene. 

“It has really boomed in the last two years. There is so much fresh talent and so many good bands popping up. It’s mind-blowing,” he said.

English is looking ahead to the next phase in the Sleepy West’s evolution.

“We’ll have the new EP in the new year. We’re well rested and fresh from our little hiatus. We’re gonna use that and the EP as a launching pad. I’m really stoked about where we’re heading style-wise.” 

Support comes from talented young Castlemaine-based singer Maya. Influenced by soul, pop and 1990s R&B, Maya won the 2017 Battle of the Bands Castlemaine heat.

Sleepy West and Maya play at the Golden Vine on Saturday, October, 21. Doors at 8pm. Entrance is $5.

– Simon Wooldridge

Twitter: @spwooldridge

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