Sam Cooper & The Sleepwalkers | Apophenian

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Sam Cooper & The Sleepwalkers...

Sam Cooper - vocals, guitars, keyboards
Corey Thuro - mandolins, guitars
Chris Mathews - keyboards
Michael Stettes - bass guitar
Andrew Baughman - drums 

The latest Sam Cooper & The Sleepwalkers record is called Apophenian. It officially came out on April 18, but we're doing a slow roll-out. As of right now, it's only available on our bandcamp and can be purchased on CD at our shows. It'll be on iTunes and Spotify soon. 

The genesis of the album was long, slow, and––while rewarding––arduous. From beginning to end, it took about 6 years of recording, reshaping, and rethinking to get right. We recorded songs as I wrote them, and in many cases the composition of the songs changed as we reworked them in the studio. A great example of this is the track "Bloodletting," which was very different when we first laid it down. It didn't have its long crescendo of an intro, and the choruses were completely unlike the final version's––different lyrics, heavy-metal guitars and synths, different melody. Throughout the whole album's recording process, we re-did and re-did and re-did instrumental and vocal parts, added and subtracted and multiplied melodies upon counter-melodies, and generally sort of lost our minds in the layers of sound we were confecting. And then in mixing, I had to wade through all the years' worth of ornamentation and explosive creativity to find and elevate the emotional core of each song, to assemble them all into a cohesive whole. I'm an album guy; I grew up on CDs, listen mostly to vinyl, and still don't have Spotify. I wanted Apophenian to be an immersive experience like my favorite records are: rewarding upon repeated listens, ambitious in its scope, and total in its vision.

 have a personal soft spot for "So Small and So Loud." Some songs materialize fast, others take months to write. "So Small and So Loud" came to me incredibly quickly, with very little re-working of lyrics or music, and has from that moment felt very special to me. It's one of those songs that manages to express something I feel acutely and often, something that I would find hard to explain outside of the context of song. (That magical alchemy of words and music so beautifully conveys what either alone would fail to do.) I love to perform the song live, and audiences seem to really connect with it, which is wonderful to experience.  

I'm pretty proud of the lyrics in "Open to Injury." Specifically, I consider the lines "a poem in the way / we plot our Children's Crusade" and "open to injury / arms wide for mystery" to be especially representative of my outlook on life and the manner in which I try to live.

Apophenian is a heavy trip into the shadowy corners of the psyche. There are a lot of questions about the human experience on the record––What do we do in the face of our cosmic insignficance? What truly comforts in the aftermath of loss? How much pain is love worth? How much pain is life worth?––and few concrete conclusions. It's a sonic exploration, an investigation performed with the tools of the mighty rock'n'roll vernacular. It answers the howling ambiguities of life with a microverse of smeared sound and unguarded lyrics. 

There's no literal story to the album, but it is an extremely accurate reflection of my mindstate(s) throughout my mid- to late-twenties. It's a tumultuous time for anybody, but I encountered a lot of personal challenge: love, loss, success and failure, mental illness, marriage, divorce. Because the writing and recording of the album took so long, it ended up being a real-time log of my feelings and thoughts throughout those years, a cathartic project to help me exorcise some of those demons. Writing music has always been a way for me to understand my own interior landscape, a sort of art self-therapy, and Apophenian is perhaps the pinnacle of that practice. "Apophenia" is the human tendency to recognize patterns in random data, and the songs on the album are me doing just that: attempting to find meaning in the chaos within and without. 

There's always more in the works! I'm playing with an incredibly talented and solid lineup of The Sleepwalkers right now, and in addition to performing in and around our magnificent home city (DC), we're starting to arrange and record the follow-up record to Apophenian. You can hear some of this new material at any of our upcoming shows. So far, most of the new stuff centers around themes of healing, learning, and loving... but with a healthy dose that signature SC&S gloom our loyal fans have come to expect.

-Sam Cooper

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anna howard