Modern rock bands often cite other, often canonical rock acts as their fundamental inspirations, but talking to Landon Jacobs, lead singer of the group Sir Sly, you hear a different story.
“I’m a huge Drake fan,” Jacobs says. “I think everyone else likes him as well, but I’ve been listening to Drake since So Far Gone.” Jacobs and his band mates also cite rappers like A$AP Ferg and A$AP Rocky, and one can hear that influence on the single “Gold,” which has earned 595,000 since its release last October; “Mouth is made of metal/pocket full of yellow,” Jacobs sings to open the song, evoking artists like Coldplay and Alt-J while the group’s lyrics read like a Gucci Mane track.
Sir Sly’s eclectic style comes together on debut full-length You Haunt Me, which came out Tuesday (Sept. 17) on Cherrytree/Interscope after the group’s 2013 EP Gold put them on the road with bands like the 1975 and St. Lucia. Sir Sly’s roots go back to high school — two of the three members, Jacobs and drummer Hayden Coplen, met in Orange Country, where they performed at their local church. The duo connected with keyboardist Jason Suwito, who also played in a number of bands in the area, when they were looking for a producer and place to record some new songs.
“The first time we showed up,” says Jacobs, “we walked up to this house, [and] we were like ‘Oh no, this is gonna be a bedroom recording situation.’” When Jacobs and Coplen walked in, they were shocked to discover that the opposite was true: Suwito had been recording bands for years in a state-of-the-art studio built in the back of his house (it comes complete with a shower). Suwito eventually moved from producing Jacobs and Coplen to joining them in the songwriting process, and Sir Sly was formed soon after.
“No matter how vague my idea is, and no matter how poorly worded in a technical aspect it is, [Suwito] is always able to find the right sound,” Jacobs explains. The members of Sir Sly boast about the ability to write and record full songs in a single day, which is all the more impressive given that the results are far from sloppy. You Haunt Me is full of crisply defined rock, with each instrument cleanly articulated and the percussion often morphing from stadium-sized to hushed on a dime. “Where I’m Going” starts out with a feeling of thick menace, but then introduces chiming guitars and syrupy backing vocals. In the middle of “Found You Out,” meanwhile, the momentum suddenly drops away for a guitar and organ breakdown.
Most of the songs on the album, which quickly follows a U.S. co-headlining tour with label mates Wolf Gang, was inspired by “incredibly personal moments,” says Jacobs. The 24-year-old has been writing songs ever since he taught himself how to play piano, roughly 11 years ago. Jacobs deems those early tracks “really crappy,” but crucial to where he and Sir Sly are today.
“Eventually the way you write starts to sharpen itself,” he notes “The only way I was going to feel like I was doing something important [when writing songs] was if I was as honest as possible.” With that in mind, it makes complete sense that Sir Sly happened to cover Drake’s “Marvin’s Room,” a drunk-dial confessional, earlier this year.