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Pure Pop: Sleep Tight Co.'s Youthful Energy

Apr. 8, 2009
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Sleep Tight Co. may be one of the poppiest bands in the city, but that doesn't faze them at all. In fact, they revel in pop music and culture, working proposed covers of Prince's "Raspberry Beret" and Madonna's "Borderline" into their practices, writing songs in the wee hours of the morning about yogurt, orange soda and baking soda volcanoes and headlining shows at an Apple Store.

Aaron Spransy and Cathy Kolb unwittingly formed Sleep Tight Co. two years ago when their duo (Spransy & Kolb) began to morph naturally into a full-fledged band.

"I was recording with Al Boyes at Transit Recording and, at the time, I was still in Those Royals," Spransy says. "I had an acoustic song that I thought a violin would sound cool on, so I asked Cathy if she could come in, and we kinda recorded it and made it up at the same time."

Typical pop songs don't always favor strings, but the classically trained Kolb had already broken outside that realm of thought by playing violin in a prior rock band, Crime & Judy. Sleep Tight Co. wasn't that much of a stretch.

"The other bands I've played in before were nothing as pop, but I want to come up with something that won't be too obtrusive," she says. "I guess I played classical music all the time as a kid, but then I got to high school and I was like, 'I like Screeching Weasel!'"

Although nothing close to a Screeching Weasel knock-off, the band has opened for the oddly paired, pop-punk band Ataris. But then again, most bands would be "oddly paired" with Sleep Tight Co. Spransy recalls a friend who tried to explain the band to his mom, saying "how we were kind of like kids' songs for adults." It's a viewpoint that had never occurred to Spransy. "For a while, we had this reference to how our set lists usually look like children's spelling lists," he says. "You know, you usually abbreviate the song titles: 'orange, volcano, peach.' I didn't really realize that I was writing songs with sort of childish themes, but it's more interesting than writing a straight-up song about a girl or something like that-that's just kind of tired.

"Basic thoughts, emotions and things that happened to me are probably obvious subjects, but I don't want to be obvious, so it usually revolves around some metaphor," he adds. "Like the baking-soda-volcano one: If you really break it down, it's about dating and how dating is really childish and stupid, sometimes … baking soda in science class, and chemistry."

Bassist Bob Gaszak adds, "I think that's one of the reasons why I like the band: These aren't all love songs. I would've been out a long time ago had that been the case."

The quartet doesn't plan on sleeping the spring and summer away; they intend to hit the studio, wide-awake, and record with Al Boyes, who recently recorded Sleep Tight Co.'s space-mates, John the Savage. New materials and demos will be the outcome-and, of course, more shows this summer. All of this will help to cast a spotlight on the unabashed pop aficionados, though Spransy and Co. are still dubious about whether Milwaukee really has them on the radar.

"I feel like not that many people know who we are," Spransy says. "We haven't even played that many shows with bigger Milwaukee bands, where people can identify us. I think I struggle more with that, booking shows, than that we're a super poppy band. I mean, deep down, I think people really like pop a lot."

Sleep Tight Co. plays this Friday, April 10th at The Cactus Club (2496 S. Wentworth) at 10 p.m. 21 Also playing: The Gunshy, Light Pollution, In Bed.

Catch Sleep Tight Co. at Record Store Day, Saturday, April 18th, as they play The Exclusive Co. (1669 N. Farwell) at 1:15 p.m.


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