Having a love of maps and map-making might not be the most rock’n’roll thing to admit to, but Sydney’s sleepmakeswaves aren’t your average rock band. The instrumental post-rock quartet has just released its new album, Love Of Cartography, which will take its live performances to a new level, says bassist Alex Wilson.
“The whole album title came from a discussion that me and our guitarist Otto [Wicks-Green] were having about how we really love maps,” he says. “We wrote a couple of songs on acoustic guitars and we were trying to come up with some sort of Midwestern-indie-rock-meets-Kurt-Vile kind of side project called Love Of Cartography, and it never eventuated. When we were actually trying to come up with names for this record, it just kind of stuck, and it’s this whole metaphor of map-making as a touring band. It’s got a bit of mystery and hopefully people can take something away from it in an individual way as well.”
It’s been three years since sleepmakeswaves’ debut album, and in that time they’ve racked up eight Australian tours, three European tours, a US tour and an appearance at SXSW – experiences that Wilson says profoundly affected the making of Love Of Cartography.
“We started getting this idea that we wanted to reflect the energy and importance that we placed onto the live show, and there was a conscious effort to balance that newfound obsession with the live performance and making a record in the studio. I don’t think we would have been brought to that place or developed the capability to do that record had we not spent so much time playing our old songs on the road and finding out what about them worked live and what was more a studio kind of thing. It’s interesting for an instrumental post-rock band, because so much of the power of the music comes out of that sternum-rattling volume we can get out of a big PA.”
Turning to their fans for help to make the album is an approach that could have gone either way, but luckily a crowdfunding campaign paid off – and then some.
“It all comes down to the economics of being in a band at our level,” Wilson says. “The realistic thing is that people don’t pay as much money for your music as they used to, but they’re still demanding the same level of quality. It was an interesting process for us because we always came out of a DIY scene and had done everything up to that point off our own backs, so it was a bit of a change to the way we saw ourselves as a band. On the plus side, there was the amount of support and goodwill we got; we asked for $25,000 and I was on the edge of my seat thinking, ‘What if this is a total failure and absolutely bombs?’ So, to actually overshoot that and wind up with $30,000 to spend alongside what we were putting in ourselves, it was an amazing, gratifying experience that blew us away. But it’s that Spiderman thing: with great power comes great responsibility.”
The band is currently in the middle of the Australian leg of its tour, with one eye on a homecoming show to wrap up the jaunt.
“We’re really looking forward to finishing up the tour on August 16th at Manning Bar,” Wilson says. “We’ve had a lot of good times there before and it’ll be really great. We want to try to get back to Europe later in the year and do some shows. This is the first time we’re doing a serious, worldwide, coordinated album release, so from my perspective it’s all new territory. I’m just waiting to see what happens.”