Sleeping in the Aviary
Friday, April 8 • doors 9 p.m.
$5/under 21 • free/GA
255 N. Front St.
Sleeping in the Aviary explodes with addictive and punchy sounds blending a hodgepodge of rock ‘n’ roll, folk, punk and garage-band sounds. Upon first hearing their 2010 album, “Great Vacation!” it seemed like music that fit perfectly on one of those avant-garde Apple or Target commercials: catchy and forever ingrained on the mind upon hearing it. Taking on a two-month national tour, Sleeping in the Aviary will be performing at The Soapbox on April 8.
Not one song from any of Sleeping in the Aviary’s three albums sounds the same. In 2007, they made their mark with their first album, “Oh, This Old Thing?” They followed with their 2008 sophomore album, “Expensive Vomit in a Cheap Hotel,” which showed off fast and buoyant guitar skills behind lead singer Elliott Kozel’s nasally, uplifting vocals. Their sound here is similar to Manchester Orchestra, but ventures into slower banjo-infused ballads peppered with the acoustic delicacy of Neutral Milk Hotel. The pace of “Great Vacation!” alternates between fast and slow with hints of ukulele channeling a relaxing vibe, fitting for the vacation component that comprises the album’s title.
On the album, “You Don’t Have to Drive” is evocative of a surf song, with upbeat guitar riffs much like the Beach Boy’s “I Get Around,” featuring repetitive heavy drums. “Weightlessly In Love” is a soft, romantic ballad with gentle acoustics and lyrics like, “Who cares about studying the stars / When we could be kissin’ on Mars.”
Hailing from Madison, Wisconsin, Kozel and his friend, bass player Phil Mahlstad, were roommates back in 2003, each going through rough patches in life. Mahlstad had been released from jail and Kozel was working a stressful job at an animal hospital. The pair would often drink at night, then hammer out their frustrations in Kozel’s basement on the bongos, drums and other instruments.
One night, a Fed Ex delivery man, Michael Sienkowski, was dropping off a package at Kozel’s and heard the commotion from the basement, which piqued his curiosity. Kozel recalls answering the door to Sienkowski saying, “You guys are pretty good, but it sounds like you are in bad need of a drummer. And lose the bongos.”
“So, from that day forward we practiced every Wednesday night,” Kozel explains.
With Sienkowski as the new drummer, the band soon added another guitar player, Kyle ‘Porkchop’ Sobczak, along with Celeste Haul on the vocals, musical saw and accordion.
Though the recording process for “Great Vacation!” was a long and tedious—a four-month process—Kozel acknowledges its unconventional method a necessity. “I was delivering submarine sandwiches at the time,” he says, “and came home from work and worked on it until I couldn’t stay awake anymore. It was done piece-by-piece mostly to a click track since we didn’t really have all the songs figured out yet and didn’t have very good live tracking capabilities. We did it all in our attic studio and usually filled up all 32 tracks that we were allowed by the ProTools software masters. Then I mixed the damn thing, which took a month or so.”
Though it may have taken a while to complete, the band’s efforts have paid off, as they’re now touring, while the album’s sales on iTunes increase. Their show at the Soapbox is only $5 for under-age concert-goers and free for others. Doors open at 9 p.m.