One of Mojostock’s most highly anticipated sets – local super group Sweater Vest – will take the stage Saturday night on The Barn Stage just before headliner The Main Squeeze. Anxious for a sneak peek, I sat in on a recent rehearsal to see (and hear) what they’re cooking up for Mojostock 2015 – the group’s first official live performance.
The electronic brainchild of drummer Richard “Sleepy” Floyd, the project is heavily influenced by his experiences in Cosby Sweater, yet offers a fresh perspective on electronic music that’s both sexy and groovy. This is electronic music for grown folks.
In addition to his experiences in Cosby Sweater, Sleepy also knew he wanted to inject his love for hip hop into the project, referencing Michael Menert and his pals in Break Science as huge influences in forming Sweater Vest.
When asked about the young group’s origins, Sleepy zigs and then zags, telling me a series of mini-stories about encounters and epiphanies he’s had over the course of the last year. He apologies for being sporadic, then compares that sensation to the exact question at hand.
When he left Cosby Sweater in April 2014, he started doing work with Indy Jazz Fest and performing out-of-state shows with Native Sun, his other band (who are also performing at Mojostock 2015). He was certainly keeping busy, but knew he wanted to start a new project. So he started working on tracks and ideas.
Several months later in November, Sleepy played a show with keyboardist Phil Geyer (of The Twin Cats) at The Mousetrap and decided shortly thereafter to ask Geyer to be a part of the project.
Sleepy recalls, “I was like, ‘I don’t know what it’s gonna be like, but will you be in my band?!’”
With Geyer officially on board, months went by before he found the final two members he knew he needed to achieve the analog sound he was searching for. He found them at a church where all three were employed as musicians.
Ashton Kleeman (of Eumatik) was the second keyboard player to join the band and Rob Walker – a bass player finishing his degree at IU Bloomington – rounded out the group on synth bass.
Sweater Vest’s 600+ Facebook “likes” (nearly 400 of which were garnered the day the band debuted and announced their set at Mojostock) are impressive, given that they’ve never performed for an audience before. The fact that the young band has such strong support based solely on the names of the musicians is a huge testament to not only their skill, but their professionalism as well.
“To see that organic interest from the jump was just amazing. It was mind-blowing to me,” a humbled Sleepy says of the group’s early support from local admirers.
While the name of the group is a clear nod to Sleepy’s experiences in Cosby Sweater, fans of his previous band should be prepared for a less-produced sound that’s much more jazzy, improvisational and synth-heavy.
“When we all get together, things just kind of snowball,” Sleepy says of Sweater Vest’s songwriting dynamic. “We all work well together in that regard.”
See for yourself just how well when the band takes stage for the first time this Saturday night at Mojostock at 8:30 PM on the Barn Stage.