The Big Sleep Keeps Fans Awake

A half an hour before the doors are scheduled to open, Danny Barria pivots inside of a tight corner at the Bowery Ballroom attaching stings to his guitar.

After affixing the six onerous wires, Barria sighs, anticipating his defeat.
Streaming from a nearby window, the limited natural light guiding him through his instrument preparation is almost completely diminished. He finishes stringing the guitar, sets it aside, and pops the lid to a case revealing yet another guitar.

He quickly begins to string it in the dark and hopes that he will have time left to travel to Brooklyn to pick up merchandise for his band, The Big Sleep, to sell tonight at their homecoming show.

“In New York, we have people that know us and know what they are coming out to see. But in the rest of the country a ton of people were saying, ‘I’ve never heard of you,’ and it was cool to be exposed to that,” Barria said, reminiscing about his recent trek across America opening for the bands Minus the Bear and Portugal the Man.

“It’s character building. You learn to put on a good show no matter what and live up to your own standards regardless of how the crowd will react.”

Last February, The Big Sleep, comprised of Barria on lead guitar, his wife, bass player and fellow vocalist Sonya Balchandani, and drummer Gabe Rhodes, set out to challenge these standards when they recorded Sleep Forever, released on Frenchkiss.

Unlike their previous record, Son of the Tiger, which took three years to create, this time around the band focused on simplifying their Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath influenced sound.

“In July of last year, we got this amazing practice space in Red Hook. I had quit my job to go touring for Son of the Tiger and so I just started spending a ton of time in this practice space,” Barria said.

“There were a lot of ambient noises and I put so many guitars on the first record to add a lot of texture. On this record I tried to strip it down a bit. Make it more straight ahead, more exposed. It’s harder because it makes you feel more vulnerable.”

The hesitancy of being vulnerable is
evident within their live show. Most of the band’s songs are instrumental which furthers them to prolong moments of spaced out drones and neglect to acknowledge the audience. The two mute vocalists do not do it entirely out of shyness but because words are an afterthought to the band.

“We don’t necessarily leave gaps for words. It’s the way the song just feels,” Barria explained. “The lyrics we have are totally going to serve that feeling and always have something to do with that initial emotional content of that part of the song.”

The Big Sleep will continue to hone their post-rock craft this upcoming fall when they are scheduled to begin working on material for a new album.