The road was anything but simple, but the debut album from Sleeplust is here at last.
The Los Angeles-based trio — comprised of vocalist Amber Ruthe and twin brothers Michael and Joseph Pepe on guitar and bass — thought it had secured a major label deal to release its debut full-length, only to see the opportunity vanish by forces out of their control (more on that later). But with plenty of promise and standout tracks still to their name, the electronic-tinged rockers reclaimed their masters and arranged to self-release Silent Panic.
The new LP is out Friday (June 21), but you can listen exclusively below to Sleeplust's debut. The trio has cited CHVRCHES, Metric, Broods and the Cure as key inspirations; those new wave and synth-pop influences have served them well, as Silent Panic has no shortage of gripping, emotional anthems. Lead track "Burning" has become a local favorite at L.A.'s KROQ radio station, hinting at the exposure to come for the young band.
Find Silent Panic below, followed by Ruthe and the Pepe brothers' breakdown of their tumultuous (and rewarding) past year.
It's been a rather eventful year or so for Sleeplust on the business front. Can you fill me on what's happened?
M. Pepe: We originally signed with a sub-label of Sony for this release, and the ink was dry. We finished the album, etc. and shortly after the record was delivered the label head that signed us to the Sony subsidiary was let go for some very — how should we say this — left-of-center business practices internally? In any case, the outcome was after that Sony decided to unfortunately drop the band, and we had to renegotiate the masters back to us so we could release the album. The label was very kind about it and did great by us after the mess, so we’re now thankfully able to self-release this record that is very fond to our hearts after almost a year.
J. Pepe: It’s definitely a story you hear in the music business, but until you experience it, you never think it will happen to you.
Ruthe: It was pretty heartbreaking, but we came out even more resilient as individuals and friends after going through something like that together. It feels incredibly surreal when you have so many good things happening and then all of the sudden you’re blindsided with an almost unbelievable truth. That being said, I’m so stoked with where we are now. Being able to release this album has been a cathartic process.
What does it mean to have this body of work out in the world? What binds these songs together?
Ruthe: Where do I even start? We have been through a lot in the last year, and to finally release these songs is an indescribable feeling. The title of the record is absolutely representative of a generation that feels so much pressure to be perfect online, to the point where we are imploding on ourselves in our real lives. Overall, the songs touch on love and anxiety sprinkled with melancholy undertones. Everyone could benefit from more self-love and realizing that it’s okay to feel like shit sometimes and to talk about it, regardless of how they think others view them. "Silent panic" is an internal monologue that has made its way to the external world and I hope that it resonates with people.
M. Pepe: We have one other EP out and a set of singles but this is our first real lengthy body of work. I think any time a band releases a record it’s cause for celebration, but especially with the road this record has gone down and for us to finally be able to champion the album and put it ourselves, it’s truly a special thing, even more than typical, I think. To me, the title and term is representative of a generation trying to figure out how to learn to be honest again and not hide behind pictures and text. Most people I get into a discussion about this with are quick to admit they have some form of "silent panic" regarding their actual life and what they choose to show to the world.
Sleeplust has been getting some love from KROQ lately. How did that come about?
M. Pepe: We’re currently in the middle of doing a residency every Monday at [Los Angeles venue] The Satellite all of June. Through the venue we reached out to KROQ about sponsoring the evenings; they agreed and Kat Corbett [at KROQ] really dug the single "Burning" and started to spin it on her Locals Only show, where we’ve consistently been voted in the Top 5 every week since it went into rotation. They’ve also started spinning "Burning" during other drive times.
J. Pepe: Growing up on bands like Blink-182, you’d always hear them talk about KROQ, so to have our band being spun on the station and sponsoring our June residency kind of feels like a weird dream.
What does the future hold for the band?
M. Pepe: Believe it or not, we have another whole EP written and almost recorded, because of the time it took for this to come out. We’re planning on putting that out in the late fall alongside more L.A. shows, some possible tour dates, and hopefully more KROQ sponsored events!
J. Pepe: We’ve found such a great creative community of friends and artists here in L.A. made up of amazing people. We just want to keep working with them, collaborating on each other's projects, culminating [towards] the best music scene that we can be a part of.