For many of us of a certain age, the merest mention of ‘Sleeper’ is sure to get us grinning. Back in the mid-1990’s, when everything seemed infinitely more innocent, it was hard not to fall for the charms of Louise Wener and the ‘sleeperblokes’. For that brief period when Britpop ruled, Radio One was almost cool and going to the indie disco was a thing, you had no choice but to sing and dance along as the likes of ‘Inbetweener’, ‘What Do I Do Now?’ and ‘Sale of the Century’ blasted out.
Now, Sleeper are back. With a gig lined up in March at the O2 Academy, it feels like a good time for Great Central to catch up with the band. Perhaps they’re hungry when we chat but the conversation is one where the state of snacking in 2018 looms large.
“The snack foods available to touring bands have improved immeasurably. We used to exist almost exclusively on Ginsters pasties. Today, even touring bands on a modest budget can pick up a bag of Freekah & Green Veg Burst or a tray of Oriental Black Quinoa Salad with a little plastic pot of Ponzu Dressing at the Waitrose in Membury Services,” they offer, with tongues possibly in cheeks, when we ask what’s changed since the 1990’s.
Renowned for always being up for a bit of a rant, we check what’s really getting their goat in 2018. “We’re all concerned about the inflationary threat of Brexit, given that imports from the EU will cost more,” they suggest. “Not many people know that Snyder’s Jalapeno Pretzel Pieces are actually imported from Hanover, Germany. They already cost £1.25 a bag in some parts of London and this is just the start of it.”
Do these guys ever think of anything but snacks we wonder, especially when their reasons for doing three festivals next year (only Bearded Theory has been announced to date) is “you get free entry, free snacks, and you can use the nice back stage toilets … which is the best part of all.”
But, of course they do. It’s easy to be a bit suspicious about the motivations of any band when they reform but Sleeper seem to be doing so for genuine reasons. It’s not as if they don’t have busy and lucrative lives outside of the band now. “We kind of reunited by mistake and it was so much fun we can’t stop now,” they clarify. “Andy (drums) and Jon (guitar) both work in music Higher Education at BIMM Institute, Brighton. Jon runs the BA (Hons) in Music Business there. BIMM alumni include The Kooks, Tom Odell and James Bay – all of whom were taught by Andy and Jon at some point.”
As you’d expect from a band that are still heavily involved in music things, they’ve got their collective ears to the ground when it comes to new music. “There is so much great music coming at you from all over the world it’s hard to keep track,” they observe. “Pogo is an Australian remixer who rewrites Walt Disney sound tracks and Mighty Boosh songs in an electronica format. He’s truly ace. South African duo Die Antwoord make music and videos that are so far beyond what was going on in the 1990s it makes that seem like a whole millennium ago. Which it, I guess, was.”
This won’t be Sleeper’s first ever picnic on the streets of Leicester so we ask what they can recall about our city and what’s exciting them about revisiting in March. “We played the Charlotte a couple of times on the way up,” they recall fondly. “It was a fantastic venue and we loved it at the time. Sadly, many venues we played back then have closed. Times are hard for small venues and at BIMM we support the Music Venues Trust which is doing great work to help venue managers organise and have some representation.”
We sense another snack-based reference isn’t far away as tummies begin to rumble. “We’re also really looking forward to coming back to Leicester because it’s the home of Walker’s Crisps”.
Sleeper play O2 Academy Leicester on March 3rd. Tickets are available here.