Even though Sleeper Agent keeps bypassing northeast Ohio on its tour schedule, lead singer and Champion native Alex Kandel still finds ways to get home, even if it isn’t for a gig.
When the band was criss-crossing the country opening for New Politics this winter, they stayed in Austintown on an off night between dates.
“We ordered a ton of Sunrise and filled my dad’s house (in Champion) with the bands, the crew, everyone,” Kandel said during a telephone interview as the band drove through South Dakota last month on its way to a tour date.
Avoiding her home turf isn’t intentional – “My goal has always been to play Cleveland,” she said. “That’s where I saw one of the first shows I ever went to.”
Sleeper Agent won’t hit Cleveland (or Pittsburgh) on its first headlining tour in support of its second album, “About Last Night” (Mom + Pop/RCA Records), which was released Tuesday. But a few weeks after the interview, it was announced that Sleeper Agent will be part of the Vans Warped Tour when it plays First Niagara Pavilion on July 15 and Blossom Music Center on July 17.
Since the release of the band’s debut album, “Celebrasion,” in 2011, the band – Kandel, lead vocals; Tony Smith, lead vocals and guitar; Lee Williams, bass; Josh Martin, guitar; Justin Wilson, drums; and Scott Gardner, keyboards – has appeared on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” had its music used in a Taco Bell commercial, played the SXSW and Coachella music festivals and earned praise from Rolling Stone, Spin and Esquire.
The band also spent much of its time on the road, opening for such acts as Weezer, fun., Young the Giant and Circa Survive.
“It was all kind of a big blur, but in the best way,” she said. “It literally feels, when I wasn’t on tour, like my life was on pause. Now it feels like it’s starting again. I don’t know how to exist any other way.”
Kandel, 21, said the results of all that time spent playing live can be heard on “About Last Night.”
“Being on the road is how you become a tighter band,” she said. “You get to know what the band is, and together you find out what the next step is. We spent a year pushing ourselves to be the band we thought we could become.”
The band had about 40 demos and song fragments after getting off the road and spending time together collaborating at a cabin in rural Kentucky. Twelve songs are featured on “About Last Night,” produced by Jay Joyce (who did “Celebrasion”) and Eric Bass on Shinedown. The first single, “Waves,” has been getting airplay locally on The Summit (90.7 FM).
Sleeper Agent is based in Bowling Green, Ky., where Kandel moved with her mother at age 14 after her parents divorced. She was still in high school when she joined Sleeper Agent and skipped her senior year to go on tour.
Even though she was the youngest person in the band by several years, Kandel said she was encouraged to assert herself.
“I think in the beginning, the guys – especially Tony – pushed me and challenged me to learn what I want and how to get it, even outside of music. They were huge supporters of me figuring out myself.”
She compared the experience the of touring in support of “Celebrasion” as “getting the best internship ever.” And now that “About Last Night” is in stores, she’s ready for another round of education.
“We’ll be touring constantly,” Kandel said. “We’re booking a bunch of stuff right now, and we will never be home. I put all my stuff in storage and will crash on couches when I’m home.”