Sleeper Agent Talk Prank Wars and Naked Terminators on The Interface
Sleeper Agent started out as a duo in 2008, but it wasn't until guitarist/singer Tony Smith and drummer Justin Wilson recruited 16-year-old Alex Kandel to play bass that the Bowling Green, Ky., band really began to take off. Though Kandel didn't work out as a bass player -- her hands were too small -- her Karen O-inspired vocals turned out to be the perfect complement to Smith's laidback drawl, imbuing the band with a sound equivalent to a punk rock version of the xx.
An early recording caught the ear of Cage the Elephant producer Jay Joyce, who invited the trio -- which is currently a sextet -- to Nashville for a week to record what would become their debut album, 'Celabrasion.' The band's overnight success led Kandel, now 18, to take a leave of absence from high school and hit the road with the boys. They spent the better part of 2011 rocking crowds and making a name across the country before their record hit stores Sept. 27.
After watching Sleeper Agent play a spirited set in our L.A. studio, we sat down with the two singers and talked about their road to success.
Tell us a bit about the beginnings of the band.
Tony Smith: Justin and I started in 2008 under a radically different lineup, and that kind of fell by the wayside. Justin wanted to keep going under the name Sleeper Agent, and so I thought it would be cool to have a girl bass player, kind of in the vein of Smashing Pumpkins or Sonic Youth.
Alex Kandel: But I can't play bass.
Smith: I tried for an hour to teach her bass, and it didn't work out.
Kandel: Really small hands. Can we demonstrate? [Compares her hands with Tony's]
Smith: You actually opened for the original