Last time we met up with the Milwaukee-based band The Sleepwalkers, its members lived in Oshkosh and the band had a longer name.
Now, with one more member and three fewer words in its name, The Sleepwalkers make their home in Brew City.
After releasing "The Reckless Kind" in 2010, the group spent a couple years pounding the pavement, treading the boards or whatever you want to call it, sharing stages with the likes of Paul Collins' Beat, The Figgs, Miles Nielsen, Ha Ha Tonka and The Henry Clay People.
We caught up with frontman Ian Olvera as the quartet prepares to launch its new disc at a gig in Riverwest.
"Lost My Mind in Stereo" – which thrums with a sound that draws on influences as wide ranging as The Replacements, Sam Cooke and The Band – is officially released at 8 p.m., Saturday, April 19 at Linnemann's, 1001 E. Locust St.
USA Today previewed the opening track, "My Best Was Never Good Enough," in February.
OnMilwaukee.com: Why did you decide to drop your name from the band's name? Does it reflect more input these days from the other members?
Ian Olvera: The group began to work and feel more like a cohesive unit, so it made sense. Plus "Ian Olvera & The Sleepwalkers" is really long and there's lots of room for scary errors. It also does reflect their contributions. Connor Lamue, Ryan Gracyalny, and now Ryan McCrary, have huge input.
OMC: You've relocated to Milwaukee now, right? Why did you decide to do that?
IO: Yes, we have. Ryan Gracyalny has lived here for many years, and it was time for a change and to all be in the same city for once. Milwaukee makes sense as a hub for us in the upper Midwest while still having quick access to other parts of the country. All four of us are now residents. I relocated in August, Ryan McCrary and Connor moved this year.
OMC: Have you been welcomed into the scene and has it been what you'd hoped it would be?
IO: Oddly, it doesn't feel much different. We played in Milwaukee at least every two months or so for the last few years, so we've already felt a little connected. That said, being here in a way is still different because it is much easier to participate and go out and see other shows. It's nice that Linneman's is now a five-minute walk versus a 90-minute drive.
OMC: Tell us about the new record.
IO: The album was recorded over a seven-month period from November 2011 to June 2012. The majority of work was done at Howl Street Recordings with Mr. Shane Hochstetler. There was one overdub session with Jon Ferrer at Mystery Room. Vocal, guitar, keys and various other overdubs were done at Topsoil Studios in Oshkosh with either Brian Koehler or myself engineering. Justin Perkins mixed and mastered the album in mid-2013.
The majority of the songs were written in the five-seven months leading up to the first session, with a few that were written in the year or two prior. We met a handful of times in October 2011 in my basement in Oshkosh to work on the songs and arrange them, though we definitely were still tweaking and adjusting in the studio. The sessions were pretty sporadic and stressful but very flowing at the same time. Sometimes it’s hard to forget about the outside world and make this guitar take your only focus.
Personnel is pretty in house. Ryan, Connor and I covered most instrumentation. Ryan McCrary joined after recording was complete. We did have some guest vocalists in Milwaukee's own Tim Schweiger and Arielle Smith, as well as clarinet from Eric Van Thiel, who is one-quarter of teen heartthrobs the Haunted Heads.
OMC: What's up next for the band? Hitting the road?
IO: Yes! We will put some miles on this year. In April, besides some area release shows in Minneapolis and Milwaukee, we will head to Rock Island (Illinois) for a Daytrotter session and then shows in Iowa, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky and more. Then in May we will play release shows in Madison and Oshkosh, and spend a few weeks doing shows on the east coast. After that, more touring and some area shows in the great outdoors, which we will have details for soon.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.