Since the release of Sleepmakeswaves' second album, Love of Cartography, in 2014, the Sydney quartet have spent their days traversing the globe on a series of lengthy tours. Their latest, the Great Northern tour, has seen them tackle 55 dates in 22 countries since March 6th, and it all comes to an end on Saturday June 13th when the band perform the biggest Sydney headline show of their career at the Metro Theatre. Guitarist Otto Wicks-Green looks back on the ups and downs of the past few months...
You're almost at the end of the Great Northern tour. How are you holding up?
This has been a wonderful experience for us. What's the word when something's simultaneously wonderful but also difficult? The hard parts were the sacrifices we made on this particular tour, band members getting fired, band members getting broken up with because the tour was too long. But I suppose you have a choice when you're faced with these difficult circumstances: you can say, "Man, this really sucks, what are we doing here, is this worth it?" Or you can say, "I'm all in, the chips are on the table, I'm committed to this, let's just make this as awesome as we can."
And how awesome were some of the highlights?
Things like going to China for the first time and playing a show in a city you've never been [Shanghai], and having 600 energetic, enthusiastic young fans come and see the band. It's moments like touring with one of my personal heroes and inspirations, This Will Destroy You, and actually having them support us in Sydney and Melbourne, which is just insane because I have so much love and respect and admiration for those guys.
How do those 600 people in Shanghai know about you?
I don't know! It must the be the internet, people sharing on blogging sites, people accessing YouTube and finding videos like that. It's down to our promoter there, who did a stellar job of putting the word out about the shows. There's this EP the band released before I was in the band, way back in 2008 called In Today Already Walks Tomorrow, and I think even now we're still discovering the impact that made across the world. That was the EP that I think really launched the band internationally and the one that got shared online. So there's that, alongside putting in the legwork. When we went to Europe that was our fourth time there. We've been around the block.
I understand there have been some van issues on the Great Northern tour...
There were some really hairy moments. The first van we had there was this little fuel light that wouldn't go off and it was freaking out our driver. So we ended up switching vans to this other one, and then we got 100 metres away and the rear left suspension just cracked under the weight of all our gear in this horrifying, spectacular way, so we had to turn around and load all our gear back into the warning-light van. A few days later we arranged for another van to replace it, and we noticed that the van's shaking a little. Over the next couple of days it gets worse and worse, and as we're cruising from a town in Spain called Burgos to Madrid, the back left tire blows out at 110 kilometres an hour on the freeway. So our driver is wrestling with the wheel and we're holding on for dear life. We have to change the tire on the highway, and it's a major logistical highway so there's all these trucks barrelling down and there's no hard shoulder, so we're taking up half of one of the lanes, so each one of us has to wander up the highway and try and flag the trucks off to the other lane while our driver's under the van with his legs sticking out on the road, changing the tyre with all of our gear spilled out behind the van so he could lift it. In between van troubles we played a bunch of shows.
Amongst all the van breakdowns, has there been any talk of a new album?
Definitely. This touring season has gone on for just about a year now and we haven't really had any traction in songwriting during that time, so we're all really itching to get back to it, and we're so motivated to get new stuff out. This last album was definitely inspired by the road, all of the lessons from travelling and touring around the world, that was part of why we called it Love Of Cartography. And we wanted to write an optimistic, energetic album that would be really fun to play live. And it has been, it's been super fun to play live and it's gotten the response that we hoped for. But I think with this next bunch of songs we want to make it a bit more technical and heavy. There's a bunch of ideas floating around. We're planning to go away to a beach house for a week and bring some amps and get some pre-production done, maybe in the next couple of months.
Next year marks the band's 10th anniversary. Any plans to celebrate?
I think we're going to celebrate it somehow. We've been loosely discussing some sort of special night to commemorate this. We're going to work out a bunch of ways to make it really special and give the band the birthday that it probably deserves.