HAPPY DAYS A CONVERSATION WITH SLEEPING WITH SIRENS GUITARIST NICK MARTIN
Over fourteen years, five studio albums, and thousands of shows, Sleeping With Sirens have crafted a unique space on the Rock & Roll landscape. Fronted by Kellin Quinn and his unique vocal style, the band continue to release music that is a mix of honest lyricism, unforgettable riffs, and pulse-pounding percussion.
Their sixth studio album, Complete Collapse, follows that path but the band also enlisted a murderer’s row of guest appearances including Spencer Chamberlain from Underoath on the lead single, “Crosses.” Charlotte Sands appears on “Let You Down.” Singer-songwriter Royal & The Serpent appears on “Be Happy” and Dorothy lends her vocals to the romantic anthem “Us.”
Complete Collapse is also a sort of connecting tissue that bookends the band’s debut release as some of the songs carry stories and themes from previous releases. “Family Tree,” for example, features lyrical and thematic references to “A Trophy Father’s Trophy Son” from 2011’s Let’s Cheers To This. “This record bridges the gap between our first and last records,” says Quinn. “I think our longtime fans will experience a lot of ‘a-ha’ moments while listening because we specifically added to give our fans something they’ve been asking us to do for a while.”
Invisible Airwaves caught up with guitarist Nick Martin to get to know him better and for a look into Complete Collapse and what the future holds for Sleeping With Sirens,
MP: What got you involved in music?
NM: It was a mix of things. I grew up in a household where music was always being played. My dad has the biggest record collection of anyone I’ve ever met in my life. I’m talking tens of thousands of vinyl records. He constantly played music, especially on the weekends. He would put on a song and tell me the band, what record it was from, tell me about the lead singer. He had this weird knowledge of music, but he didn’t have any sort of musical background. One of my most important memories growing up is listening to literally everything. Classical music. Rock music. My dad got me into punk music. And then from my mom’s side, she’s, she’s Hispanic, so I grew up on Mariachi music and Cumbias and that influenced the hell out of me, too. I figured out early on in my life that I loved all types of music. I was a very eclectic listener and was digesting, but also dissecting songs at a really young age.
MP: You’re also at the age where MTV was still a music channel. How much did that have an influence on you?
NM: That’s all I watched. MTV all day, all night. Watching 120 minutes and being turned on to bands like Nirvana and Metallica and Soundgarden, but also really getting into Green Day and The Offspring. I had already been introduced to The Clash, Sex Pistols and The Ramones, so when I was a teenager, that deep dove me right into Punk Rock and getting into The Misfits, Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat and Black Flag. It was a lot of different music that catapulted me into what I want to do for the rest of my life, but, for sure, watching MTV and seeing things like the Green Day performance at Woodstock in ’94, I thought that’s the coolest ever. I want to do that. What do I have to do to do that?
MP: When did listening to music transform to playing it? Did you take lessons?
NM: No lessons. The first instrument I picked up was an acoustic guitar. My cousin was an incredible piano player. They had couple guitars as well and were always supportive that I could play. I started learning things by ear and from watching MTV, seeing different chords that Billy Joe from Green Day would play or James Hetfield from Metallica or watching Kurt Cobain. I would watch that and mimic it on guitar.
MP: So while the normal teenager is zoning out watching videos, you were studying finger movements and placement?
NM: Absolutely. I was dissecting everything. I would watch to see where their hands were or how they picking and strumming. It took me a few months to click and then it just became an extension of me.
MP: When did you take it to the next level and start playing with other people
NM: That was in high school. I started messing around, not even in bands, per se, but finding people at shows or at school that would want to play music. I didn’t have a whole lot of friends in high school that shared the same interest in Punk Rock. But the few that did, we would pick up instruments and make a bunch of noise. I started my first band in high school, which was a Punk, Hardcore band and started playing shows when I was sixteen. All I wanted to do was go on tour. The day I graduated high school, literally the following day, I went on a tour that I booked on my own. Nobody showed up, but we played as much as we could. We got signed to Kung Fu Records and The Vandals took us on tour. That was the first time I went to Europe and the UK. I did that for six or seven years and then started gravitating to other projects and other bands leading me to Sleeping With Sirens.
MP: Sleeping With Sirens have a new release out, which features some different guest vocalists. I had to laugh because I was reading through the bio and there’s a quote from Kellin in here that says, “We’ve never been a group that did a lot of features in the past.” Yet, during the pandemic, he was one of the most sought after people to feature on other people’s songs.
NM: It’s interesting how that worked out. Kellin is such a creative person. There’s so much that he creates that isn’t necessarily just for Sirens, so the pandemic gave him this opportunity to showcase with other bands. Kellin wants to help others and, specifically, other bands. Yeah. He has a passion for new bands. He wants to bring them on tour. It doesn’t matter if they draw anybody. He doesn’t care if anyone listens to them because he’s such a fan of music. For him to be able to do those guest vocals with up and coming bands is really cool. It also keeps us relevant <laughs> at the same time it shows he’s not this guarded, I only sing for Sirens and no one else type of mentality. He really enjoys it.
MP: Sleeping With Sirens typically doesn’t have features. How was it when the role was flipped while working with a guest vocalist?
NM: Kellin always says that he just doesn’t like sharing his lyrics and parts of songs that mean so much to him. With this record, he didn’t want to just hand lyrics to somebody and say, “Sing what I wrote on the second verse.” He really approached this record differently with wanting to feature people that wanted to create alongside with us. It completely blew his mind. We would get these songs back from the people that are featured and they were incredible. It’s a cool, positive evolution of this band to show we’re not stuck in our own little bubble. It’s important to expand those horizons and see what else we’re able to accomplish even with outside individuals.
MP: How did you choose who to work with?
NM: It was a group discussion. We started gathering names of people that we were super pumped on and thought would fit the vibe of a song. It wasn’t throwing names on a wall and then throwing them a song. It was all very methodical, which is what makes it that much more special, because these people were kept in mind for what we were working on.
MP: Are there any younger bands that are sticking out that you like?
NM: I really like this band called Action/Adventure. I was just listening to them this morning. I guess you would label them Pop Punk. They have . well thought out songwriting and all the musicians in the band are insanely talented. The music has a nostalgic sound, but it’s still very current. That’s what’s really awesome about new bands on the come up when they take the things they’re inspired by and you can hear that, but then they’re evolving the sound and making it their own. That’s what makes it really exciting to hear new bands and it’s super important for the scene. Sleeping With Sirens won’t be a band forever. At some point, whether it’s old age or whatever it may be that we can’t do this anymore, there has to be other bands on the come up that carry the torch and inspire other bands.
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