In just two years time, Sleep For Dreaming has blossomed from a burgeoning upstart to one of the southwest's brightest buzz bands thanks to an infectious and inventive sound that's equal parts pop/punk, modern rock and indie inclined. In fact, the group's DIY ethos has brought co-founders Zoe Bohlen (singer) and Bryan Singer (drummer) from their humble roots in Bismarck, North Dakota to shake up their surroundings in Raleigh, North Carolina and eventual settling just outside of Amarillo, Texas where the group cemented its nucleus with the addition of bassist Calvin Barker and lead guitarist Ismael Armendariz through a mutual friend at church.
"It was really just a huge leap of faith and really going on a limb as to how we all came together," says Bryan of the players' initial differences in geographic upbringings. "But as we all started talking about our personal goals, they quickly became band goals and everyone was instantly on the same page with 100% commitment."
Aside from sharing many musical similarities (more on those in a minute), the guys are also clearly united in the idea of pursuing their dreams to the fullest. Not only did the foursome all feel the calling to deliver an authentic, heartfelt brand of songwriting to the church and beyond, but they've quite literally sold many of their possessions to make music ministry life's ultimate priority. With all that in mind, Sleep For Dreaming was certainly a natural moniker for the group to choose, not to mention having a curious ring to it.
"It partially comes from Hamlet's monologue 'to sleep, perchance to dream,' but Sleep For Dreaming has a lot of different meanings to us," verifies Zoe. "To us, the name is a bit ironic as it suggests that you are only dreaming when you sleep and not actively pursuing your dreams, but in actuality, that's what we are doing every second of every day. Dreams take more than a night's sleep to make happen, at least, those dreams that you want to see come true."
After testing out those spiritually-grounded philosophies and their songs on the regional road, Sleep For Dreaming is gearing up for its national debut EP Memories, which is built on a foundation of contagious hooks, anthemic power chords and emotive lyrics that address several facets of growing up, all wound around the guys' personal observations. Fans of Jimmy Eat World, MXPX, Paramore, Taking Back Sunday, Mayday Parade and Anberlin will instantly be struck with the surging sounds, along with the melodic variety that's simply textbook Sleep For Dreaming.
"The hardest question to answer is who we sound like, and I can't give you a definite answer who or what our genre can be, which I think can be a good thing, although if you like any of those bands, you'd probably be into checking out our music as well," notes Bryan before Zoe continues. "I kind of shy away from comparisons because we want to be our own group. We'd like to be our own thing completely and see where it takes us."
One major point of distinction is Sleep For Dreaming's songwriting smarts, which starts out with the attention commanding title track "Memories." Written in the wake of a relationship not working out, it ultimately points to God reworking the situation according to His plan and resulting in something better than either party ever imagined. Add in the fact it's a three minute radio-friendly confection, and it's simply impossible not to roll down the windows and sing along.
"We've sold our vehicles, left our homes, quit our jobs and parted ways with our girlfriends in order to put our focus on where we feel God is leading us," confides Zoe. "It's a song about remembering the way things used to be, but also looking forward to the future and all the possibilities the open road holds."
Topical and stylistic variety comes from "Satellites," which serves as the antithesis to "Memories" in the fact that it longs for falling in love with the right girl (as dictated by God's timing), wrapped around a rootsy, Nashville-inspired sound. The fist-pumper "Something Greater" keeps the pace fast and feverish, while most overtly showcasing the guys' rock solid spiritual foundations as they continue to trace out their Christ-centered calling.
"It's basically about discovering what you are made for and pursuing that side with as much veracity as you can," notes Zoe before Bryan interjects. "But it's not just about following and finding your dreams, but also finding God and knowing there's something greater than what this world has to offer."
"In Your Arms" helps bring the project full circle in its thought-provoking, acoustically- framed motif, but also as it intertwines with the recurring theme of relationships and aspirations. Perhaps Zoe summarizes the song's sentiments best as a means to "look for a place where you belong and try to find your place in this world."
Even though he's the primary songwriter, all of the guys have distinct personalities that contribute to the clever chemistry of Sleep For Dreaming. We'll start with Bryan, the laid back patriarch of the band who everyone else credits as the glue which holds the guys together. "Music has always been a huge passion in my life," he admits. "I started playing drums when I was 13 and got my first kit when I was 14. I grew up in an athletic family, but when my brothers were playing basketball, I'd bring my drums and play in the pep band. I always preferred that over trying to be a terrible athlete. I always had the personality of holding things together and keeping everyone's head on straight while trying to keep on my own."
His long time friend and fearless front man Zoe certainly evokes charisma at every turn, which only makes sense given his incredibly extroverted upbringing. "I'm used to performing since I was a kid," he shares. "My parents went to college to be in theatre, raised me in acting and I even played Peter Pan in a theatre production. In a sense with Sleep For Dreaming, I'm taking that to the next level. I'm not super great with words
outside of music, but I put my feelings into music more than anything. I also enjoy fellowship, being around people and I love all these guys."
That creative background is essentially parallel to Ismael's artistic tendencies, whose jaw dropping musicianship suggests he was simply born a natural. "On my mom's side of the family, I don't think there's anyone who doesn't know how to play an instrument," he recalls. "I grew up watching my uncles playing drums and they would even pile bricks on the pedals so I could reach them and play along. I just developed an ear for music at a really young age and would always try to add something to what I observed other people playing. I'm just happy that I came out of a musical family because it helped me to develop my sound, which has since translated to guitar...I tend to be quiet if I don't know somebody too well, but once I start getting to know them, I tend to open up."
Last but not least is the little brother of the band Calvin, who's so determined as a goal setter that he simply doesn't stop until they're attained. While bass is his primary position in the group, he's more accurately termed a prodigy-like multi-instrumentalist with an equally admirable dietary consciousness. "I've played music for 12 years and it's what I want to do with the rest of my life. Besides bass, I picked up violin and fiddle as well," he explains, before revealing another fascinating trait of unflinching dedication. "A year- and-a-half ago, I was overweight, so I went vegan on a mostly fruit-based, almost raw diet."
Add it all up and Sleep For Dreaming is well on its way to making a splash within faith- based listening circles and beyond. "We write from the heart and we want to affect people in a positive way," sums up Zoe. "We want to make people think about life and what they can really do if they put their mind to it. We're just musicians doing what we love to do, but above all, we hope to build a bridge from the church to the world and bring everyone together."