If you’re looking for a band that takes the best elements from country, rock, jazz and manages to blow you away at the same time, Daysleeper is here for you. Comprised of members Patrick Gemkow on vocals and guitar, Alex Austin on bass, Oliver Hunt on drums, and Brandon Thies on guitar, Daysleeper have a unique sound that may catch you off guard at first, but will leave you satisfied at the end. Just listen to their song “Whiskey Misery,” which starts out as rock song, but tosses in jazz guitar solos by the end. Not only will Daysleeper’s sound amaze you, but Gemkow’s soft, intense vocals will take your breath away. I got a chance to interview the singer and ask him about his influences, future projects, and the state of music today.
Gemkow had been “writing songs and singing in acapella groups” for some time before pursuing the path to be a musician. Five years ago while working in a bar he met Alex Austin when they decided to play music together. Alex knew the other two members of the band, got them in the group, and have been playing music together ever since.
Gemkow: “We each came up with three names, so we could come up with a good one. We had a practice so we could discuss what we came up with and the other guys collectively came up with Meat n Potatoes. I thought the name was a little ridiculous, so I said no we’ll just go with Daysleeper instead. While the name is funny, it doesn’t work for our music.”
Gemkow got bitten by the music bug at the age of 14: “At 14, I tried out for chorus with a friend and the next year there were acapella try outs. I didn’t go at first and my teacher asked me why I wasn’t there. I told him I missed tryouts, so he said you can try out right here, right now. That’s when I realized I loved to sing, play piano, and guitar. From then I knew this was something I wanted to do with my life.”
Describing Daysleeper’s music:
“Honest, brutally honest. The music is melodic for the most part, but it is aggressive at times. I guess it’s easy to listen to because I have a higher singing voice.” And he’s right. The music is easy to put on and just bob your head to. The music may be intense at times, but it’s not something that’s going to get a mosh pit going. Rather, it’s something to listen to while you’re driving through the city on a Friday night.
“Jeff Buckley, Thom Yorke from Radiohead, Elliot Smith, and Nick Drake. I listened to a lot of Sam Cooke when I was younger. I actually listen to a lot of of soul, like Smokey Robinson. I like a good mix of alt rock and soul, basically anything that makes you move.”
Message of Daysleeper’s music:
“Music is about therapy, it’s an outlet. I get most of the personal stuff out, get all the dark stuff out, so I can smile for the rest of the day.”
“The bad thing about touring is it’s exhausting. But it’s great because you get to meet a lot of people and seeing the reaction to your music is great. But I guess it depends on if you try to cram everything in one tour or if you take your time.”
Gemkow is currently working on a solo album that he describes as “dark and mellow” and has themes similar to Morrisey and Bryan Adams. When asked why do a solo album he says “The timing is right. I write a lot and I wasn’t getting enough playing time with people. I like playing with different people, especially if they have different styles and I wasn’t getting the chance to do that in the band.”
Thoughts on the current music scene:
On Autotune: “ I want to say all music is good, but personally I wouldn’t feel good about using autotune or anything like that in my music. It can work in certain situations, I mean it works in pop music, but I’m not a pop kind of guy.”
On the rock scene not being in the forefront of music: “Maybe that’s good for now. When it explodes again, maybe I’ll explode with it.”
“Radiohead, no question about it. They have such great ideas, don’t follow any guidelines, they’re not classically trained musicians and they’re great at writing songs. They also use electronica to the point where it sounds organic. They also seem to write songs for the higher gentleman voice, which is nice.”
On Chicago show with Dean Welch and the Rhythm Method and The Employees:
“It’s nice to have different styles in a show. If you have three jam bands in the same show, it’s like well they sound alike and gets boring. I don’t care who I play with as long as they’re nice and cool to hang out with. You do get those arrogant bands who are dicks, but I’m sure these guys are cool.”
Their debut album The Whiskey Diaries is out now. You can see Daysleeper along with The Employees and Dean Welch and the Rhythm Method play Chicago’s Lincoln Hall on July 21. At the show the band will be performing brand new material that was just written. To learn more about Daysleeper and to buy their album visit their site. Make sure to follow them on Facebook for the latest updates. Get your tickets for the show here.