An Interview With The Austin-Based Rockers SLEEVE CANNON On Their Debut Album ‘KAPTV,’ This Necessary BLM Movement and Much More!
Get to know the Austin-based rock band Sleeve Cannon! Capturing the same electric energy emitted during their scintillating live performances, their newest album, “KAPTV” is a poignant exploration of today’s consumerist social media landscape. This collection reflects both sides of one coin, celebrating how we’ve become interconnected because of social platforms while also acknowledging the isolation and hollowness brought on when we get caught up in scrolling on our screens instead of interacting face to face. The album was recorded at SPACE in Austin, TX in December of 2019 and it was mixed, mastered, & engineered by Sleeve Cannon member, Tre Pham. They are donating the profits of this newly released debut album to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
“KAPTV is our first full-length release, and in many ways it’s a reflection of thedigitalized, consumerist social media landscape we’ve all lost ourselves in. Thisalbum looks at the whole picture of what that looks like and at times even celebratesthebeauty of our interconnectedness. At the same time, many of these songs are adeep dive into those lingering feelings of isolation and hollowness of our infinitescrolling culture.” -Anton Terrell
Fronted by lead vocalist Anton Terrell, Sleeve Cannon was formed in 2017 and presents an exciting brand of rock laced with stimulating, dynamic garage, psychedelic, blues, pop, and punk influences. Along with Terrell, the group is also made up of Tre Pham (Guitar, Vocals, Synth), Andre Velasco (Bass) and Kyle Tapia (Drums).
Check out their new album “KAPTV” and connect with Sleeve Cannon online here: WEBSITE
Learn more about Sleeve Cannon in the following All Access interview:
Thank you for your time. So given these unusual Covid-19 times, what does a typical day look like for you all? How have you adjusted to these times?
Andre Velasco: It’s really difficult. I usually work and then go home.
Tre Pham: Well I made the majority of my living off live music, so this hasn’t been the easiest of times. I’d rather be broke than have COVID though.
What has been the hardest/most challenging part about being quarantined? Is your city starting to open up more now? Have you guys been able to get together and play music?
Tre: I feel like a shell of myself. I went from performing and practicing with several different projects every night of the week to pretending to play drums. Austin is starting to open up, for absolutely no reason.
Anton Terrell: It’s obviously tragic and depressing that people are sick and dying and losing their jobs due to this pandemic. As of the day I’m saying this 150,000 people have died from it in this country alone. Seeing people continue to deny and ignore it is also very disheartening. Personally I’m an extrovert who went from teaching, being in a relationship, having roommates and constantly going to or playing shows and practicing to living on my own, single, teaching virtually (then going on summer break and having nothing to do), and not practicing together often due to differences in work and living situations. Needless to say it’s been a huge series of changes, but it’s forced me to really slow down and sit with myself. I feel like I was filling my time with non-stop responsibility and social activity to avoid being alone with myself. This forced change has led me to look within and start routines of exercise, nutrition, reading, culinary skills, and therapy. Time spent with friends and loved ones now feels so much more meaningful because it’s rare. I really miss my old life, but I’ve worked to find that silver lining.
Andre: It’s been hard to not play shows anymore.
How have you been able to use social media during these unprecedented times? Are you finding that you use it even more now to stay connected to fans and other musicians?
Anton: Yeah definitely. We had our album release planned for this last spring ever since we recorded in December. Tre had worked his ass off to mix and master everything around that timetable. We decided that we shouldn’t wait around for an increasingly long and uncertain pandemic to pass before releasing it, so that meant all of our promotion for the album had to happen online. It also just happened to coincide with the biggest revitalization of the civil rights movement that has happened in our lifetimes so far. We’ve used our modest platform to boost those voices and conversations as well. Also sometimes we just wanna chat with friends and musicians who we really miss seeing out at shows. There was a local Facebook group of musicians still pretending that we’re all playing shows. It was hilarious but also maybe a weird part of the grieving process of this amazing community that can’t exist right now.
What has it been like having to reschedule your spring, summer and fall shows? What shows in 2021 are you are already excited for?
Tre: So far nothing has been rescheduled. It doesn’t seem smart to think about any definite dates with cases rising. Everything is too unpredictable right now.
Since we are all desperately missing live music, can you recall a favorite show of yours from the past? What do you think ultimately makes for a great show for you? What about a favorite show of someone else?
Tre: My first shows with Sleeve Cannon on tour always give me great sweaty memories. I was so excited to finally tour this summer and actually be allowed inside every venue. Our show in San Angelo back in December was also great, exhausting and weird, but perfectly Sleeve Cannon.
Anton: Haha yeah, in San Angelo they had us closed off in a dark room with a stage way far away from the bar and entrance. They had much more popular music BUMPING in the bar and wouldn’t let us keep the door to our weird back room open. Sound guy was nowhere to be found so we started like two hours late. The two bands played our hearts out for each other and our girlfriends and one couple who was probably looking for the bathroom but got guilted by our enthusiasm to stay for a few songs. Honestly, I would’ve been mad that we drove hours for that but they paid us enough to rent the studio to record KAPTV in. Not sure if it was a money laundering thing or what exactly but we do enjoy cash. Even better than cash though is having a crowd up close and personal. My favorite shows are house shows and garages. It’s just an intimacy that you can’t get at a venue.
Andre: playing at Spiderhouse was really fun because we were celebrating Tre’s birthday and had to eat spicy peppers after every song.
Where did your band name come from? Was it a hard to make a decision that you could all agree on?
Anton: Actually it was super easy, barely an inconvenience. We’re named after a space cannon piece from the board game Twilight Imperium that happened to get knocked off the board by my friend’s sleeve.
Tre: Before they told me, I was certain it was either alluding to a tattoo sleeve or an uncircumcised penis.
Andre: I took it as a power hidden underneath the surface.
Tell me about donating the profits of your debut album, “KAPTV” to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund? Why did you guys decide to do this?
Anton: Because Black Lives Matter. Seeing the George Floyd murder tape was one of the most disturbing and visceral things I’ve witnessed in my life. And it has happened so many times. I can’t remember all the names of black men and women who I’ve witnessed murdered on camera by police and that’s an unacceptable atrocity. We’re still a relatively small band and are aware that our debut album profits or social media posts won’t do enough to fix systemic violent oppression, but if it helps even a little it’s worth it when the alternative is to continue to sweep it under the rug. We originally planned our album release for June 5th but delayed it because that was the week the protests began and we didn’t want to take attention away from the significance of that. We rescheduled to June 19th, Juneteenth, because of the history of that day, especially here in Texas. It felt like a more appropriate time for something as celebratory as an album release.
What was it like making “KAPTV”? Were you able to finish recording it before this pandemic hit? Did anything surprise you about the overall process of putting it together? What about any unexpected challenges?
Tre: For me, the pandemic actually helped clear my schedule so I had time to track my overdubs and nail my mixing and mastering. It did limit my ability to rerecord bits of everyone else’s parts, and I had to so some MacGyvering to make everything work. The only unexpected challenge was when a car ran through my living room while I was sleeping, that was a bit of a setback.
While it’s difficult, can you pick out a few songs from “KAPTV” and talk about their inspiration and how they got to be on this collection? Typically, how do you guys write your music? Altogether or separate?
Tre: I love “Vault.” I think it best represents the rawness and dirty, primal sound that first drew me to Sleeve Cannon. It hits hard and it’s the song I can really just let loose on. On the flipside, “Cave” is where I really got to find my voice as a producer with all the overdubs. I have four different guitar tracks going on and over twenty different vocal/choir layers in that arrangement. It was the last song I mixed and I made everyone wait a little longer on it so I could really do my thing.
Anton: Every song besides “Wrecked” was written with our original lineup. Andre on bass, Kyle Tapia on drums, and Trey Abraham on guitar and/or synth. They would jam out a song together and I would be trying out vocal melodies the whole time, then recording what they did on my phone, taking it home and conjuring more solid melodies and lyrics to fit those melodies. When Tre Pham came along we originally weren’t sure if he was just filling in for a tour or would be interested in joining full-time, so he learned all of our existing songs. Once Tre was established as our permanent guitarist and Trey Abraham had moved on from the project we decided to record all of those original tracks together as KAPTV to give them a proper send-off, and so that the next wave songs we learned/played/released would better reflect the new iteration of the band. A few weeks before we went into the studio, I got hit with inspiration with a melody/lyrics and sent it to the band. That sign ended up becoming “Wrecked,” which was the first song the four of us fully wrote together, and we did it in reverse-order where instrumentals were built around vocals. We fell in love with the track and decided to include it as the last song on KAPTV. It kind of feels like a passing-of-the-torch.
How do you think future music is going to be influenced by this incredible and absolutely necessary Black Lives Matter movement that the US and even the world is going through now? Is it inspiring you and your music today at all?
Tre: I hope this continues to pave the way for more representation for minorities. I think most people remain blissfully unaware of the struggles of minority artists when it comes to representation. It’s something the majority takes for granted.
Anton: Already one impact I’ve seen in our music community is the petition to establish a Black Live Music Fund in Austin. Please Google it and show your support! The genres we incorporate wouldn’t exist without black artists paving the way. I’m generally optimistic about our generation and Gen Z. I think and hope that we’re getting closer to a time where the influence of black musicians across musical genres will no longer be allowed to be ignored and minority artists won’t be copied, ripped-off and dismissed as they were in the past.
Andre: I think more and more people will become aware of how African-Americans have influenced the majority of original American music today, everything from jazz to blues to hip hop. I think our music shows our influences that have come from our history.
If you could get into the studio with any artist today and collaborate on a new song, who would it be and why?
Tre: I feel like Jack White would fit well with us.
Anton: I would love to work with Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards. She’s a fantastic producer/song-writer/vocalist and I would love to hear what she could do with us.
Andre: Anyone who is really great at keyboard/synth.
What would your dream music video look like right now?
Tre: Twenty minute kung fu film, set to music. Long ass intro where there’s a music video at the end. I do my own stunts wearing a hot dog costume.
Anton: Tre’s answer should have come with a spoiler alert. It will happen. It’s inevitable.
Andre: What Tre said.
Would you like to share anything else about yourself or your music with our readers?
Tre: Wear a mask, so we can play live again.
Andre: New kung fu video coming out soon. Stay tuned, sleevie cats.