Music fans of the Pacific Northwest, hello and welcome back to our third annual year-end daily countdown, 100 Bands in 100 Days, where every day until December 31st, we’re showcasing a new band or artist you have to know about, presented by Verity Credit Union. Follow the #100Bands100Days hashtag on Twitter to stay on top of all the bands featured and make sure to follow Verity on Twitter as well. Some days the featured act could be an established and locally-adored northwest-based musician that perhaps you haven’t been turned onto yet, and other times they could be a band with a small following that just hasn’t had their deserved time in the sun yet. Either way, we’re fairly confident you can come away from this daily segment with plenty of new favorites. Today’s band hails from the City of Destiny, and are one of the most standout and essential rock bands to come out of the same city that brought you The Sonics, SleepyPilot!
An alternative rock band in the truest sense of the word, Tacoma, WA’s SleepyPilot is one of those special groups that likes to stay true to the ambitions of its members, sounding however they want to whenever they want to, without worrying about the conventions of their genre. SleepyPilot first broke into the Tacoma underground scene in 2011 with their independently-released self-titled debut album, which was written, produced and recorded by the group’s frontman, Sean VanDommelen. VanDommelen has made the rounds in our local scene across various styles of music, strapping on a guitar at age 15 to play in popular Tacoma band Mona Lisa Shines, cofounding the Tacoma hip-hop outfit All Kinz, as well as winning the John Lennon Songwriting Contest in 2009 for his electronic music composition “Lonely Girl.” His attentive ear for sound and memorable songwriting has made him a force to be reckoned within Tacoma’s music scene, and his work in SleepyPilot has helped both him and the band reach new heights. Of course, this is helped with some muscular drumming from Jason Bair, and resonant bass from the group’s most recent addition, Ken Schaff.
Across the band’s brief, but worthwhile discography, SleepyPilot has toyed with a gauntlet of styles of music, though rock firmly remains their wheelhouse. Influences from the more radio-friendly names in 21st-century blues rock (The Black Keys, The White Stripes) definitely make their way into SleepyPilot’s music throughout their discography, but the band also throws in their fair share of hard-rocking guitar and bass grooves that you won’t be able to help but move along to. The release that followed their self-titled, The Baggage EP, saw the band taking their sound in a more varied direction, with the band adopting more of a love of unique guitar tones and catchy choruses that really wouldn’t sound too out of place tearing up either the commercial rock or alternative singles charts. The band’s willingness to push themselves in new directions and challenge their listeners through new instrumental additions and unexpected left-turns has made them quite a fun band to follow across the half-decade they’ve been around.