The knee-slid­ing cul­prits were iden­ti­fied far too eas­ily

Kerrang! (UK) - - Contents - WORDS: MATT ALLEN pho­tos: GRIZZLEE MARTIN

Kellin Quinn is fad­ing, fast. Suf­fer­ing from a heavy cold, Sleep­ing With Sirens’ front­man is cur­rently stum­bling through one of a clutch of aborted in­ter­view at­tempts with Ker­rang!. The aim: to dis­sect his band’s lat­est al­bum, Gos­sip – an adren­a­line-spik­ing splurge of hooky gui­tars dis­pens­ing in­stantly mem­o­rable riffs. In­ter­view one took place en route to the doc­tor’s of­fice.this fol­low-up is hap­pen­ing as Kellin fan­ta­sises aloud about stay­ing in bed all day,“sleep­ing and eat­ing shitty food.” He coughs, he splut­ters. His words are punc­tu­ated by heav­ing sniffs and snorts, but the 31-year-old won’t be quit­ting this chat in a hurry.

“You’ve got to mo­ti­vate your­self to keep go­ing,” he says, de­fi­antly.“i don’t think I’m al­ways the most de­ter­mined. I can get my­self in a rut, like to­day, when all I want to do is stay in my bunk. But I think it’s im­por­tant to cre­ate through those mo­ments. That’s when you find the best songs to write, when you feel down or unin­spired – that’s when you [have to] push through.”

Cer­tainly Kellin and his Sleep­ing With Sirens band­mates – gui­tarists Jack Fowler and Nick Martin, bassist Justin Hills, and drum­mer Gabe Barham – know a thing or two about bat­tling against episodes of ad­ver­sity. Gos­sip, their fifth stu­dio al­bum, and the record most likely to match 2013’s breakout re­lease, Feel, is a com­ing-of-age project; an “hon­est” retelling of the front­man’s shift from “boy to man” as he faces up to the twin re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of be­ing an in­stantly-recog­nis­able rock­star, and a fa­ther to his young daugh­ter, Copeland. The grow­ing pains have come thick and fast: Gos­sip is shot through with a sense of per­sonal ac­cep­tance (Hole In My Heart), fac­ing up to the doubters and crit­ics (One Man Army), and los­ing your sense of self, or for­get­ting what’s im­por­tant in life, in what­ever it is you’re work­ing on (Trou­ble).

For Kellin, this was a re­sponse to the mu­sic in­dus­try that seemed ea­ger to change the way he pre­sented his mu­sic.

“It’s about get­ting lost in ev­ery­thing around you when you feel like you have to be this cer­tain per­son,” he says.“it’s about hav­ing peo­ple come up to you and tell you who you’re sup­posed to be. I feel there are a lot of hands on your mu­sic all the time.there are a lot of peo­ple who want you to do cer­tain things and to be cer­tain things. I’ve found my­self in trou­ble be­cause it’s like,‘is this [mu­sic] even mine any­more? Is it ev­ery­body else’s?’ It’s a frus­trat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, and in a lot of ways mu­sic be­comes about ev­ery­one else and not so much about you any­more.”

In parts, Gos­sip is very much about this strug­gle. And Kellin – his body racked with ill­ness, might be on a bit of a low to­day – can be for­given for sound­ing a lit­tle down­beat. Some­times, though, when he speaks of “find­ing the mo­ti­va­tion” to forge ahead with Sleep­ing With Sirens, the band he’s fronted since their emer­gence “seven or eight years” ago, mo­ments of self-doubt creep into his an­ times, it sounds as if he’s had a hard time lo­cat­ing his cre­ative mojo.

“I’m not a kid any­more,” he says.“i feel like some­times you wake up in the morn­ing and you ques­tion why you do what you do. I think that’s some­thing ev­ery­one strug­gles with.are you do­ing it for pas­sion, or are you do­ing it to pay the bills? It’s some­thing that’s been go­ing through my head.this record is in­spir­ing enough to make me want to keep mak­ing mu­sic, to want to keep go­ing with it.” Did you ever feel like quit­ting? “No, be­cause there’s noth­ing else I’m good at do­ing,” he laughs.“i still love mak­ing mu­sic. I think it’s some­thing I’ll al­ways do, whether that’s me be­ing an artist, or work­ing on the man­age­ment side of things, or run­ning a la­bel.there’s al­ways go­ing to be a foot in the door, be­cause that’s where my pas­sion is. But you have to have faith in why you started – that’s some­thing our band has al­ways had… I think I’m a sur­vivor. I’m still go­ing strong, so I’m ob­vi­ously do­ing some­thing right. And I’m proud of what we’ve ac­com­plished.”

This doubt is also in­dica­tive of Kellin’s open and hon­est at­ti­tude to song­writ­ing.when asked to de­scribe his life as an artist and fam­ily man, he ex­plains there’s very lit­tle to di­vide the two. He doesn’t think of him­self as a rock­star at all.“i think I’m just a guy that writes songs that peo­ple re­late to. I don’t have this rock­star men­tal­ity where I think I’ve gotta to go out there and be this fake fuck­ing guy on­stage; I don’t have to go up there and pre­tend to be some­thing that I’m not. I’m vul­ner­a­ble and hon­est and that’s the way I’ve al­ways been.”

So far, it’s worked out just fine.

On Gos­sip’s ti­tle-track – a pass­ing shot at on­line crit­ics and the im­pli­ca­tions of care­less words – Kellin talks of hav­ing nine lives.a few of them have been used up al­ready, he reck­ons.“i’m prob­a­bly down to four or five,” he laughs, be­fore di­vid­ing his life up into sev­eral dis­tinct chap­ters.the first, he ex­plains, ar­rived as a kid; the next when he went to high school, a pe­riod in which he lis­tened to the ’60s and ’70s rock al­bums his grand­mother had given to him on vinyl.“the Bea­tles, Fleet­wood Mac, the Stones – the stuff that had the most pas­sion.” His col­lege chap­ter, by all ac­counts, was a lit­tle fraz­zled.“you don’t know who you are, you think,‘holy shit, I’m fucked,’” he laughs.

Fast-for­ward to now. Kellin is work­ing through an­other tu­mul­tuous episode, though the nar­ra­tive this time is of chang­ing pri­or­i­ties. Gos­sip sees him as a


re­spon­si­ble adult, sup­port­ing his fam­ily while work­ing in the stu­dio and out on the road. But these days there are “more im­por­tant things to worry about” than the gig he’s got next, the city he’s head­ing to­wards.all of a sud­den, his life as a 20-some­thing start­ing his time with Sleep­ing With Sirens is a re­treat­ing speck in the rearview mir­ror.“my dad told me, when I turned 21, ‘You’ll be 30 be­fore you know it.’ He was so fuck­ing right. It was the fastest time in my life.”

He says he didn’t re­ally think about his age un­til his last birth­day.then his re­ac­tion was,“fuck, I’m half­way through.where did it go?” But that’s be­cause life, and change, has come at him fast. Mean­while, his pas­sion for mu­sic takes him away from home for long pe­ri­ods.

“Do I miss my daugh­ter when I’m gone?” he says. “Of course, but I’m re­spon­si­ble for my fam­ily and I want to take care of them, so that’s what I do. I look at be­ing on the road as my job and I’ve got to got to work in the same way as ev­ery­body else does.yes, I make mu­sic, but it’s still my job – and I have to take care of my fam­ily and give my daugh­ter the best life I can. It’s a good feel­ing to know that you’re giv­ing the fam­ily a life do­ing some­thing that you love to do. She is very mu­si­cal, and she’s al­ways happy. She looks at life as an ad­ven­ture, which is some­thing to be ad­mired. She in­spires me every day.”

Through­out Sleep­ing With Sirens’ lat­est cre­ative splurge, Kellin has also found the time to fig­ure out who he is. He says that Gos­sip has been his way of mov­ing into man­hood, of fig­ur­ing out how he op­er­ates as a dad, a hus­band and a mu­si­cian.

“I feel like I’m try­ing to work out what kind of per­son I am every sin­gle day,” he says.“i feel like I’m grow­ing up with each record I make – I feel dif­fer­ent and I can cat­a­logue my records as my life, some­thing I’ll be able to give to my daugh­ter some­day.

“I’m 31 so I can’t be a boy any­more,” he con­tin­ues. “But on the in­side I feel like I’m al­ways go­ing to be young, so there’s a fight be­tween my age and how I’m sup­posed to act. I’ve found my­self this past year try­ing to live more in the present, and the fu­ture, be­cause you can’t go back and change what you’ve al­ready done.all you can do is fo­cus is what you can do now and what your fu­ture holds. But I don’t re­gret any­thing. I don’t think you should think like that. If you spend your days re­gret­ting things, you’re al­ways go­ing to be make mis­takes, you learn from them and then you don’t make them again.that’s how I look at my life.”

Kellin isn’t claim­ing to have ev­ery­thing fig­ured out, but he does have a bet­ter han­dle on the things that he’s re­alised are most mean­ing­ful to him: fam­ily, friends (“ones that know the real me”), fans of his band, and a sense of op­por­tu­nity.“i value every sin­gle day I get to wake up and be alive,” he says. Over­all though, Sleep­ing With Sirens is an op­por­tu­nity for him to put his thoughts and emo­tions – the dark and light places – down on the page in an hon­est and open way.the process, he reck­ons, is pretty straight­for­ward.

“I’ve been do­ing it for eight years,” he says.“i don’t think there’s a math­e­mat­i­cal process to mak­ing lyrics, you just have to write what you’re think­ing or feel­ing. If you can be hon­est, it helps you to write great songs. But if you’re try­ing to be some­one else or you’ve got this char­ac­ter that you’ve made, that can be daunt­ing be­cause it’s not about you. It’s what ev­ery­body else wants. Be­sides, I’d be cheat­ing my fans if I wasn’t be­ing hon­est.”

Sleep­ing With Sirens have ar­rived at their cur­rent des­ti­na­tion through de­ter­mi­na­tion and vul­ner­a­bil­ity, with the two ar­riv­ing hand in hand on Gos­sip. Kellin Quinn might be un­der the weather, but he’s about to emerge from his short-lived rut in fight­ing form. It’s what tends to hap­pen when you push through the pain.


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