“I'm always working on a new record.”
That’s Sleeping Pills principal Phil Taylor on why the band’s new LP, A Maze In A Wave, arrived right behind a self-titled LP released in December. Taylor, 27, says Maze was already in post-production when that eponymous effort dropped.
“That the last album took a year-and-a-half to be released after it was originally recorded,” Taylor added. He got some help from Merchandise bassist Pat Brady who produced a lot of the record after it was recorded in a condemned bank building in Sulphur Springs. “It used to be called The El Camino. It’s across from the dog track.”
Brady — who plays bass in Tampa rock outfit Merchandise — also wrote the synth solo on A Maze In A Wave’s lead single, “Forever,” and another Merchandise-r, Carson Cox, is releasing the effort on his label (Hidden Eye Records). Taylor says he’s known Cox for some time and that they bonded over music and an interest in underground film.
Taylor's own interests — some Johnny Thunders mixed in with The Buzzcocks, Gray Matter and Iggy Pop — show up all over the eight-tracks that make up Maze, which was influenced by the mystery in the sea, man’s battle against institution, and the juxtaposition of machine and nature.
Have a look at the Andrew Petersson-directed clip for “Forever” below and get more information on the release show via local.cltampa.com. Call your local record store to see if it’ll carry the release. Out of towners should still encourage their local stores to buy copies, but the Internet has them for presale via Hidden Eye.
Influences obviously come from the new wave and post-rock schools, but any specific bands that changed your life and influenced the music you make in Sleeping Pills?
Yes, Johnny Thunders would be a big influence on my leads. Iggy Pop is a big influence on my vocal style,Gray Matter influenced some of my darker lyrics,The Buzzcocks influenced some of my love songs.
Who is in the band these days? Who played on the songs you’re releasing and who wrote them?
The current live lineup is me on vocals and guitar, Zack Strickland on guitar and synthesizer, Joseph Rodriguez on bass and Nate Irizarry and drums. On the record it was me on guitar and vocals, Zack Strickland on bass and synthesizer, Patrick Brady on bass and synthesizer and Nate Irizarry drums.
I wrote all the lyrics and music and demoed them for the band, then we rehearsed them and recorded them. Pat played a big role in producing this record. We spent lots of time getting things to sound as good as possible. The only thing I didn't write was the synth solo in “Forever” which was written and played by Patrick Brady.
Where did you actually record the songs? Who mastered them?
We recorded the record in a condemned bank building from the 60s. It used to be called The El Camino. It’s across from the dog track in Sulphur Springs. It was mastered by someone in Brooklyn. I'll have to check on that name.
He helped with the December LP, but how’d you link up with Carson and end up deciding to put a record out on the label?
Me and Carson have known each other for a long time, but it started in the punk scene when he was the guy to go to for a good quality recording. He recorded many of my previous bands and we developed a friendship through music and later on in underground film. Carson liked my bands, but when I showed him the five-song Sleeping Pills demo I made with a minimal drum machine in my bedroom he saw something bigger in it.
It hasn’t been that long since your LP release show in December and you’re back with another one. Talk about the quick turnaround — how’d you make that happen?
The fact is that the last album took a year-and-a-half to be released after it was originally recorded. By the time the first record came out I'd already recorded A Maze in a Wave and was working on the post-production with Pat. As an artist I have a creative schedule to follow so you could just call this catching up.
And A Maze in a Wave, what does this album mean for you, what emotions and ideas are you exercising?
Mystery in the sea, man versus institution,machine versus nature and the seduction of another; the album is inspired by the ocean and the street.
I was going to ask you about where you were born, where you’ve lived and how/why you ended up in Tampa, but there was also a homelessness period for you.
I was born in Tampa grew up in Brandon moved to Tampa when I was 20.
The video by Andrew, it’s trippy. Where does the footage come from, what were you going for there?
We wanted to symbolise “Forever” by capturing as much of everything in the universe from planets to tiny microscopic organisms to let you know how long forever is,
And what’s next for you? Another quick album? Some touring?
Our current tour [takes the band through Georgia, Pennsylvania, New York and Tennessee], but we are working on filling some gaps in between. I'm always working on a new record.
Lastly, how old are you?
I'm 27. I'll be 28 on December 16.