Sleigh Bells' Alexis Krauss on Europe, SNL and Why She Digs California
Having recently released their sophomore album, Brooklyn-based duo Sleigh Bells have been busy. They've completed a European tour, performed at SXSW and are in the midst of an extensive U.S. tour that will have them crisscrossing the country as headliners and conclude with several east coast stops opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. We caught up with Alexis Krauss to chat about the new album, French fries and what's to come for the band.
Alexis Krauss: We don't like to play the new songs until after we've recorded them because we use a track for all of our beats and it's impossible for us to test something on a crowd since it needs to be recorded in advance because we don't have a drummer. We rely on that electronic program track so we didn't debut anything until the record came out. It's always nerve-wracking to play new songs because you don't know how they're going to be received. When the record first came out, you could see a lull in the crowd since they weren't familiar with the material yet. As the tour has progressed, we're definitely noticing that kids are starting to sing-along, shout lyrics out and dancing to the songs. It's exciting to see that the momentum is building.
How was Europe? What were the crowds like?
We did a pretty quick tour of Europe. We flew over from Seattle to
the UK and played a copule of cities there including London. From there
we went to Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam. We also did the BBC Sessions for
Radio 1. Europe has been more challenging for us than the States since
we don't have as big of a presence as we do here. It feels like we're
still proving ourselves over there and we have to work a bit harder.
That being said, it was really rewarding. We finally reached a point
that our shows were full of fans as opposed to people who had read about
us on the Internet and were coming to kind of check us out. The shows
felt much more enthusiastic and the crowds were participatory and
involved in the music. I have to say that this time around it exceeded
What's the most interesting/random thing you ate while on the road over there? I'd imagine that the food would be a bit different than over here.
You'd be surprised. There's a lot of Starbucks, Burger King, McDonalds and those places over there. If you want to, you can eat the worst American food possible. This isn't very adventurous but we played Amsterdam and late night in Europe, there aren't many things that are open, but those places that are include kebab shops, which are literally everywhere. But if you don't feel like eating a falafel or a kebab, you don't have many options. There's the late night fries spots, like Belgian style frits where you can get French fries in a cone and they have 50 different kinds of sauces. So with the sauces, it can get pretty random and incredible.
There had to be more to do in Amsterdam than eat killer fries, right?
Amsterdam is my favorite European city. Even if you have 24 hours, you can rent a bike and ride around the entire city. It's a big enough city where you can see different things but small enough that everything is accessible and able to do a lot in a short amount of time. It's an incredible place to see even if you don't want to partake in the weed culture.
What was it like playing SNL?
It was quite overwhelming and very unexpected. I was under the impression that when you did a show like that, you'd find out months in advance. But that's not the way it happened. We got a call 10 days before the taping and they tell you what songs you're going to play and there's a ton of pressure. I think we did a good job and I'm proud of us, but it was really hard because you can't bring in your production and do it necessarily the way you want to do it. That entire team of people are so professional and seeing how a show like that actually gets pulled off is quite a sight. I think surreal is the best word to describe it.
What can we expect from your show in Pomona?
Our sets are longer than they've ever been, which is nice for fans. In the beginning, we were playing 30-35 minutes, now they're a bit more dynamic. It's still a very heavy, loud and in-your-face type of show. I think people should come to our shows ready to dance and participate. Our shows are very reciprocal: we only have fun if the audience is having fun. I encourage kids to let go and not be self-conscious. Be careful if you have epilepsy, we have a lot of strobe lights.
Though it may be hard to admit, what's the one thing you like better about California than New York?
I would say the weather, but that's pretty obvious. More specifically, I'd say the sunshine is what I look forward to. What I love about California is that there's a proximity to nature with the ocean and the mountains that you don't have in New York. I'm amazed by how close you are to an incredibly different environment in California if you drive a half hour in any direction. Don't get me started on In N Out burger and the secret menu there. I will talk for a good 30 minutes about it. It's definitely exciting for me.
Sleigh Bells will be playing at The Fox Theater in Pomona on April 4. $22.50 ADV / $25 DOORS
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