The Los Angeles-based indie rock trio Sir Sly has appeared on a slew of festival bills over the last couple summers following the 2017 release of their sophomore album, Don’t You Worry, Honey. Though music festivals are typically littered with upbeat summer anthems and hypnotic dance beats, Sir Sly tends to lean in the opposite direction. Lead singer Landon Jacobs tells me, “People like to complain more than they like to appreciate stuff. We’re no different. Listen to our albums.” Though laced with dark lyrical content, the album featured several mainstream hits like “High,” “&Run,” and “Altar.”
With nearly three years in between Sir Sly’s debut album You Haunt Me and Don’t You Worry, Honey, Jacobs admits that he learned a lot about balancing moodier emotions with the ability to uplift people. “Nobody likes a pity party,” he tells me. “While I was going through some real trauma and real grief, I realized that nobody respects somebody who is just wallowing.”
The frontman, dressed in a full orange jumpsuit to show his support for gun safety, adds that as an art form, music should be a transformative experience. “There was always something anthemic about listening to sad songs growing up. There was always something beckoning you to join in. If you’re not beckoning people to join in, then just sit in your living room and sob on the piano. Don’t record that record and put it out.” Instrumentalist Hayden Coplen adds that there’s something unifying and inspiring to see an artist who is able to be particularly honest on stage, even if in a sad way. “When you can hear someone being so open, it connects you to that artist,” he says. On writing Sir Sly’s last album, he says, “Landon would come to us with lyrics and it felt like someone was opening up their book to me.”
I suggest to Jacobs that revealing such an emotional and vulnerable side to yourself must be difficult. To which he replies, “I think doing it well is difficult. I’m not going to get up on a high horse and say I’m doing it well but I’m doing it better than I used to.” Since experiencing real life grief such as death, divorce and losing your faith, Jacobs says one of the biggest challenges he faced ahead of creating the band’s second album was letting go of his fear of judgement. “I had to let go of some of the control over my own personal narrative,” he says. “I had to not worry about what my family would think of me or the people I grew up with. I had to be okay with talking about it.” He adds that especially lately he feels empowered by the larger conversation being sparked throughout today’s society. “People are talking about grief, suicide, and all these issues in a way that’s really powerful,” he says.
With an unedited voice on Don’t You Worry, Honey, Jacobs knew he had to show a personal side of himself to his listeners in order to contribute to the bigger conversation. “I was ready to talk about getting divorced and where that came from and the things I did wrong in an effort to be a part of people being honest with themselves. Hopefully they will be inspired to live their best lives and be more aware of how they feel,” he says.
On the heels of a dark album rich in emotion and struggle, Jacobs says he’s started to write a little differently in preparation for the band’s next collection of music. “I have been writing about this life we live. It’s about being grateful for it and acknowledging that it can be strange and disorientating at times,” he says. The band has been performing a new song called “Welcomes the Pressure” that focuses on the idea of welcoming the pressure they feel as artists and songwriters. “It’s very self-referential and it kind of normalizes the life we live.”
With new music on the horizon, listeners can still expect anthemic ‘Sir Sly’ tracks but what they won’t be prepared for is a romantic side to the band. “Sir Sly does love songs for the first time,” Jacobs announces. “It will be interesting. Maybe a little bizarre, too.” Bizarre, dark, romantic or sad; you can be sure Sir Sly will be honest.