Concert Crap: You started the band in high school, what has changed since then?
C.J. Starnes: So many things have changed over the years for Sleeping Seasons. When I started it, I was a freshman in high school and was playing an acoustic guitar because I was super in love with City and Colour (and still am) and wanted to play music like Dallas. I played solo for a while in Munford (about 45 minutes north of Memphis) and recorded a few songs and such but I always wanted to have a live band. It became a band when I met Jacob Sawyer a little later in high school and he began playing drums for Sleeping Seasons. We performed as a two piece for a while and started playing Memphis shows.
Jared Twisdale joined on the bass and then we really started pushing to get our name into the Memphis community. By this time it didn’t feel like a solo project to me anymore because in my mind it became theirs as much as it was mine. We became a four piece with the addition of Julian Stanz on guitar in late 2015 and really settled in the musical direction we wanted to go. Jacob and Jared ended up leaving the band to pursue other life goals. We met our current drummer Tom and played our first show with him in March 2016. Then our bassist Chloie joined and we have our little family! Including Jacob and Jared because we love them dearly!
CC: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
CJ: I think first and foremost I can speak on behalf of the entire band and say our biggest influence is Christ. Our music is secular, but we are all Christians and in everything we do we try to reflect His grace and love. Musically we all come from diverse backgrounds. Dallas Green and Andy Hull are my two musical hero’s. Julian is a huge Smashing Pumpkins fan. Chloie loves Paramore, Green Day, The Wonder Years and anything punk. Tom was most impacted by For Today and loves August Burns Red, Incubus, and Led Zeppelin. We are a different mix, but I think that helped us sculpt our sound.
CC: Tired Bodies is the name of your newest EP, what is the overall meaning of it?
CJ: We released Tired Bodies digitally February 16, 2017 and released it physically to a packed room in Memphis on the 23rd of February! The EP deals with so many different subjects from cancer to what it’s like when someone close to you attempts suicide and everywhere in between. So much of Tired Bodies is coming of age, growing up, and learning about life which I hope made it a relatable record for people and will allow it to touch hearts.
CC: How does the writing process work for you?
CJ: For me the writing process is pretty slow usually. I think we are all incredibly picky about what we are willing to spend our time and effort on. Most often, I will write the basic idea for a song, and bring it to the group and let them help guide me in composition and write their parts up and make sure we create something that is striking to whatever emotion we hope to stimulate with the song. I don’t know where I’d be without bandmates that are as talented as the ones I play with are. I bring a song to them and we work together to make it something special.
CC: Tennessee is known for it’s country music, so what’s it like being a alternative/emo band known for country?
CJ: It’s actually not weird at all! The Memphis music community is on the rise right now. I cannot name you the amount of talented groups that deserve to be on larger stages within our scene. I mean it’s unreal. We all take care of each other, and try to push each other to be better. We’ve had bands like You the Few and Sleepwlkrs help us and we’ve helped bands in turn. Local music always needs to be bands helping bands. Tennessee has good music everywhere from metal, punk, indie, country etc. You are never too far from good music here and we are just unbelievably grateful to get to be a part of that.
CC: What album’s or songs have had the biggest impacts on your lives?
CJ: For me I would say Bring Me Your Love, Little Hell by City and Colour, and Cope by Manchester Orchestra. For Julian it’d be Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by The Smashing Pumpkins. Chloie mentioned All We Know is Falling, and Brand New Eyes by Paramore. She also brought up a few Green Day albums including American Idiot and No Closer to Heaven by The Wonder Years. Tom brought Absolution by Muse, Phobia by Breaking Benjamin, Stadium Arcadium by The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Lost in the Sound of Separation by Underoath.
CC: I was reading your bio and listening to your music and I can tell you write about things happening in your lives. Does knowing that there’s other people going through what your going through motivate you to write as best as you can?
CJ: Definitely. I always want to write a song that’s honest. Transparency is something I think we lack in our culture, and I think that leads to feelings of isolation. If we could all be more open, and realize it’s okay to struggle because it’s normal and understand we are never alone, it might help a lot of people. So when I write, I want to wear my heart on my sleeve and if there is something I need to say I want to go ahead and say it. I really hope that translates into helping people and encouraging them.
CC: Anything planned for the rest of 2017?
CJ: Yes! We will be filming music videos, going out on tour, putting on/being a part of more awesome local shows, and recording more songs at the end of summer. Its a really busy year, but I don’t think we’d want to be busy doing anything else.
All questions answered by C.J. Starnes.
Post and interview by Madeline Cronin
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