“In terms of older songs, we play mostly what our fans want to hear, which some artists may think is a bitch move, but whatever,” says Derek E. Miller, guitarist/producer and one-half of Sleigh Bells (alongside vocalist Alexis Krauss), reflecting on the band’s current live show in relation to their nearly 15-year career. Derek and I are chatting over the phone from the third U.S. date of the noise pop band’s tour behind their fifth full-length, Texis, released last September on Mom + Pop. The trek will make its final stop on Saturday, August 27th, at Theatre of Living Arts on South Street. When I ask what can be expected of the setlist, Derek tells me that while he is still very excited about Sleigh Bells’ latest material, he’s more than happy to play the classics.
“There’s a good chunk of new and old stuff. I’m happy to play those old songs. All of those songs changed our lives… We’re always gonna play ‘Crown On The Ground,’ because it’s just too much fun.”
Sleigh Bells have been bringing their musical anti-spectacles (in the most Debord-ian sense of the term) to the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection for more than a decade, from the mega-stages of the Naval Yard and Festival Pier to our favorite nightclubs, including Union Transfer and The Trocadero. The duo’s live show has historically combined the aesthetic of an Apocalyptic dance party with that of an abrasive rock show. Discussing their approach to playing, Derek tells me that much of it draws inspiration from his musical roots (He first gained notoriety as rhythm guitarist in metalcore outfit Poison the Well.): “It’s almost like a hardcore show without any fist fighting. It’s loud and confrontational, but not in an aggressive way. I love hardcore, but hate the violence.”
Although Sleigh Bells’ live show has, throughout most of their career, been comprised solely of Miller and Krauss, Derek tells me that for this tour they have filled out their sound and stages with more traditional live instrumentation: “We’re touring as a four-piece for this record, with Jharis Yokley on live drums and Kate Steinberg on synths and backing vocals… It feels like a little more of a live band and less like karaoke [laughs].” And he does admit that he’s most excited about playing the new songs with this lineup: “The energy feels really good around this record.” He even goes on to say that there are a few for which he’s especially excited: “’SWEET75’ is probably my favorite track to play live, but I can’t tell you why; it just feels really good. And ‘Justine Go Genesis.’ We open with that because it’s just really a rager.”
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