Catching up with RVA's Sleepwalkers between national tours, ahead of Saturday's show at The Broadberry

Posted by: brad – Apr 28, 2016


While buzz around Lucy Dacus and Clair Morgan has been hitting national outlets as of late, another RVA band, Sleepwalkers, were a bit ahead of the curve when they were picked up on a few national tours last year.

Now, still running off the energy of 2014's Greenwood Shade, the brothers York (Austin and Michael) are looking ahead at another national tour opening for the folk-pop breakouts The Lumineers.

"They're no shortcuts so we've had to tour our asses off," Michael said as we sat at Curbside in the Fan getting way too drunk on a Thursday afternoon. "It looks like a lot of luck, but we had to tour a lot."

That touring included a journey through the mid-west with J. Roddy Walston and an East Coast leg with Moon Taxi. The Lumineers will guide them as they embark for their first trip around the West Coast and Canada.

It wouldn't be a tour without some incredible stories, and there were stories to be shared.

One involved a $30 AirBNB in Chickamauga, Georgia. The band, traveling in a Lincoln towncar, was miles from anything except a gas station that advertised both "Possums BBQ" and "Trump 2016"

"That was the worst place," Michael said. "The AirBnB was a former-segregated school-gone commune. Then they turned it into a dog compound."

The "dog compound" also had 30 dogs, four pigs, and an emaciated horse that wandered around the former gynasium taking shits at its leisure.

"We didn't stay in the school we stayed next door," he joked clarifying they din't end up sleeping with the dogs.

The band spent most of their time in Georgia using the local McDonald's wifi to watch the latest season of Game of Thrones.

There were car breakdowns as well, causing them to miss one scheduled show - but either way, they enjoyed the hell out of the experience.

And all of this success started a while back as a studio project between the York brothers and their trusted engineer Alex De Jong at White Star Sound in Louisa County.

"We wanted to be like a studio band, but we wanted to keep recording," Austin said, explaining their early days as a two piece. "We got an agent last year; we did a lot of touring and by word of mouth people started sharing us on Spotify and it kept snowballing."

While they act modest, it's not hard to understand why these guys took off. Their sound pulls from decades past in a way few musicians have been able to really pull of; sounding original, but still capturing grooves and feelings from prominent performers of the past.

It's hard to find a track on Greenwood Shade that you'd skip, but rather you find yourself glued to the flow, eagerly awaiting what comes next.

RVAMag's own Doug Nunnally loved the record so much it fell into our "Top Records of 2014" along side Avers, Lightfields, and White Laces.

Then, as the band toured, there was additional hype from friend-of-the-RVA-music-scene/singer-songwriter Ryan Adams and Director Judd Apatow who both sang the record's praises.

They had humble beginnings as all bands do, with the members in Black Girls (now Rikki Shay) giving them support where they could.

Sleepwalkers are back in town for a few weeks before they hit the road again in mid-May, but they've spent some of this off time back in the studio working on demos ahead of their next album.

They've also got a show lined up this weekend where you should expect to hear a few new releases before they get firm studio versions.

The Yorks spoke about how the new record might have an even more 80's vibe, but it will still be their famed version of "dirty pop" with modern production.

"We just like pop songs with layers of shit over it," Austin said, laughing.

No matter the outcome, our hopes are pretty high and we welcome the hype machine. And as they head out on tour the brothers York have promised not to forget their roots.

"We think there's a strong vibe in Richmond where everybody is in a good competitive spirit," Austin said. "I think people are starting to work together, there's more side projects. I think what made the city grow musically is have people work together, you can have a punk band then have a rock thing..."

Your chance to catch Sleepwalkers beforey the hit the road/national spotlight again is this Saturday at The Broadberry with support from The Mad Extras (Richmond, VA) and Gold Light (Ashville, NC).

Doors 8p - Show 8p - $10 in advance here or $12 at the door

Words by Brad Kutner