Exclusive Interview with ‘I’VE TRIED SLEEPING’
Charlie Edwards, also known by the stage name “I’ve Tried Sleeping,” began playing the classical piano at the age of 5. Later, he continued taking violin lessons up until the age of 16, when he unintentionally dropped his instrument. When he turned 17 years old, he bought his own guitar, and that is when it all began. I’ve Tried Sleeping broke from everything he had learned! However, he had no regrets about what he had done because he felt relieved while playing the guitar and had complete freedom to play however and whatever he pleased.
With Bob Dylan being the biggest influence, he was ripe before Dylan’s music forever changed his life. He has written a thousand songs, starved, played on the street, played to the crowd, survived band explosions, self-implosions, and have had his heart broken, dreams crushed and soul thinned all over the place chasing that perfection of Mr. Tambourine Man — and he wouldn’t trade a minute of it. Recently with the ages of experience under his belt he has released an eponymous album that highlights his musical prowess. Check out the self-titled album “I’ve Tried Sleeping” and the exclusive interview below:
1. Can you tell us a bit about where you come from and how it all got started?
Well, firstly I’d like to thank you for making this interview happen – really appreciate you tracking me down. And secondly, I’d like to thank YOU for reading this. I have absolutely loved big-sound rock ever since I was a little kid and I’m sure if you’re reading this, you must share this love also.
I grew up in the country in Southern California – an unusual thing to say these days as that part of the world has become so populated – and wandering around those quiet open spaces as a youngster, I developed a very active mind and internal self.
My parents were classical musicians on the side and often had friends over to play chamber music. I started classical piano at 5 then violin in youth symphonies until I was 16 or so. I’m so thankful that my parents created a rich and diverse musical environment for me as a young person. Iam so lucky to have had that.
They also were into the folk scene that came out of Boston and New York City in the mid-1960’s. So, I was very familiar with all of that amazing music – Pete Seeger and The Weavers, Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul & Mary, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan.
The classical music was all well and good, but I knew that I was a rocker when I was eight or nine years old. I remember clearly the first time I heard ELO’s ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ on my bedside clock radio. It was pure heroin.
Over the next couple years, I started gathering rock vinyl at used shops. And soon had a collection of the best music ever made on this planet.
There was only one requirement to be a part of my collection, it needed to be heartfelt and it needed to rock.
So, no to Christopher Cross, yes to Aerosmith, no to Journey – and so on down the road. Loved all of that old Stones and Who, Floyd, Zeppelin and all the progressives, Yes, Tull, Genesis – mmm, I’ve always loved everything that Peter Gabriel has done.
When I was fourteen, my best friend’s dad took us to see ‘Kansas’ at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles. That band turned that arena on its head that night and I knew for sure then that big rock was going to be a central part of my life somehow.
Yes, I did have tickets in my hand for that last Zep tour right when John Bonham died. Man oh man.
2. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
When I was sixteen or so, on what should have been a forgettable day, I was practicing violin on a stone floor and reached out to turn a page of sheet music and lost hold of it. I can still remember this moment vividly in slow motion. I kicked the old violin up once with my knee as it was falling and then almost grabbed it – but it was just out of reach. It shattered. What a sound. What a moment.
For the next six months or so, I didn’t create any music and instead listened almost exclusively to Pink Floyd through headphones. This was cool, but an essential part of me was missing. I bought my first acoustic guitar when I was seventeen and it was love at first sight.
I taught myself how to play and the joyous rebellion against so many years of disciplined classical training was on.
I’ll never forget the freedom and exhilaration I felt musically at that time. I mean I could play LOUD and fast and shred and sweat and stomp around. Heaven. I still feel this way today.
3. Who were your first and strongest musical influences and why the name ‘I’VE TRIED SLEEPING’?
I’ve touched on this a bit already. I loved ALL of that amazing 70’s and early 80’s rock from both sides of the pond, but my number one without question has always been Bob Dylan.
In high school, I had gathered all of Dylan’s acoustic records and could play those songs on my guitar. But soon my mind was blown as ‘John Wesley Harding’ took me to ‘Highway 61’ all the way through ‘New Morning’ to ‘Blood On The Tracks’. Oh My f-ing God. It’s not fair. He’s like the triple-threat Hollywood actor who can act and dance and sing. Times ten.
So cross my heart, I’m not gushing over Bob, because it’s safe territory. His music just hit me like a freight train from the very beginning. “It takes rocks and gravel baby to make a solid road.” Writing such a volume of songs that are so damn perfect, with every word so right on target. He is hilarious. What an eye. What an editor. What a pioneer. How fearless and courageous. Mmmmm mmmm. What a profound impact he has had on my life.
While uploading to Spotify, I learned of five other Charlie Edwards acts out there not hurting anybody. Rather than go ‘Highlander’ on them, ‘I’ve Tried Sleeping’ was born. The name is pulled from a lyric on track two, the 9/11 conspiracy rocker, ‘Not Talking Squatch’:
I’ve tried sleeping with the wool pulled over my eyes
You can move on now there’s nothing behind the door
But there’s no relief your story just don’t add up
You can move on now there’s nothing behind the door
I’ve got questions is there anyone out there left to dial
You can move on now there’s nothing behind the door
If you’re going to lie to me
Please give me a story that in time I’ll be able to forget
4. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners, and how would you personally describe your sound?
Great question! I have always loved the form of the four-minute rock song. Some are a bit longer or shorter for sure, but they all in one way or another are verse/chorus, verse/chorus, some really cool third part, and then a repeating chorus end.
I think there are a number of strong parallels between a good rock song and stage magic. Each song derives its power by employing a ‘trick’ of some kind. If we were sitting across from each other around the kitchen table and I had an acoustic guitar in my lap, I could show you these tricks and I promise you, once I did – just like stage magic – the songs would lose their magical aura and come across as overly calculated and you would lose interest in them.
Each of the ten songs on this record employs a different trick or derives its power differently. This makes the record very exciting to listen to as you are never quite sure what is going to come next – compared to a country music record for example.
The record is written as a ten-song whole, meant to be listened to all the way through at very loud volume. It builds musically and thematically all the way to the end and will take you somewhere if you let it.
It is intentionally off-putting. It’s challenging to listen to because it is foreign and demanding of your attention. It is not bubble-gum pop that can be tuned out. Every word and note is carefully selected and placed.
If you can make it through the first listen, you’re on your way. On the next pass, you’ll probably like it a little more. By pass six or so, you’ll be hooked, and it will be all you want to listen to. It has depth.
As you listen to the tunes, you could easily write down twenty or more bands and artists that are being referenced or come to mind – I hear them – R.E.M., U2, STP, Police, Tom Petty, The Clash, Pixies, Pearl Jam, etc.
I have never intentionally tried to sound like anybody else, sometimes it just happens though.
5. For most artists originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and often emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and music maker and the transition towards your own style which is known as ROCK?
Yeah, definitely I learned to sing and play on the acoustic guitar with the Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan chord books. And then I learned all of the campfire standards - you know 'American Pie', Neil Young tunes. etc.
It's real leap as a player to jump from being a one-man Cat Stevens guy to playing rock and roll. R.E.M. really helped me here. That band was magical and when 'Radio Free Europe' and 'Murmur' hit everyone in my circle stopped in their tracks and listened. Their first two records of mumbly and suggestive acoustic rock paralleled what I was doing at that time - strummy, mid-tempo four piece bands singing about the politics of the day. The press reviews for my bands at that time all described the acts as R.E.M.-ish. When R.E.M. released their third record 'Fables of The Reconstruction' and went electric with understandable and sensical lyrics I made that leap too and let go of my acoustic for a Strat and a Marshall.
I was listening to a lot indie at that time - bands like The Replacements, Violent Femmes, Bob Mould, Pixies, Minutemen. I'd describe those next few years for me musically as playing very creative art rock. Because I was a not a super awesome guitarist or singer I compensated by writing and performing experimental and original material that highlighted what I COULD do rather than revealed what I couldn't. The recordings from that period as I thrashed around trying to figure out who I was musically and as a person were lo-fi, high energy, and super fun.
I never really successfully wrote anything that rocked during that time I definitely pulled off some 'frantic' and 'chaotic' and 'cool' but no tunes that would make you drop what you were doing and headbang.
6. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative, and entertainment?
What an awesome question! I absolutely fall into the camp of the first list and not the “technical artistry, personal narrative, and entertainment” set – boo, hiss.
Am sure this may come across as overly righteous or big-headed – I don’t mean to be – but when I was a young person, it was very clear to me what an amazing and special gift this life is. Something not to be squandered. We get one shot at this bitch and we’re more or less free to pursue whatever we choose – God willing of course. So, I’ve jumped in as I’ve been able and invested my time and energy towards pushing the needle in the direction of positive and progressive change. I have always swung for the fences and had great ambition. It’s like that ‘Kansas’ concert, ‘don’t play the coffee shop, turn The Forum upside down’.
As I mentioned earlier, the popular music in my house as a kid was almost exclusively social and political activist folk. I loved the power and intensity of those Pete Seeger songs or ‘If I Had A Hammer’ or “Blowin’ In The Wind’. it has always been a part of my rock ‘Mission Impossible’ to follow in Harry Chapin’s footsteps.
As a songwriter, I can’t help but feel very strongly about the injustices and suffering that surrounds us. I write about it constantly.
When I was writing this record, Trump was going bananas, we were marching for social justice, and the pandemic was killing everyone and decimating the economy. At one point along the way, I remember that the record was comprised of five 10 minute topical/political prog-rock jams.
I have learned the hard way that topical songs of the day tend to not age well and become yesterday’s news overnight. So, day by day and song by song, I tried my best to replace the thematic ideas I had with more universal themes that might age better.
You can hear the fossil record from that time if you listen closely. Track 8, ‘Shaking This Can Up’ is a Trump song and track 9, ‘Build Something Golden’ is a sprawling epic clocking in at 9:25 and is about the pandemic and marching for social justice.
7. Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much fulfillment as the amount of work you are putting into it or are you expecting something more, or different in the future?
I’ve never had any expectations with music.
Making music and making records is a part of me and always has been. I have to do it and I will continue to do it – I don’t really have a choice in this.
I am however seeing some new territory with this record that I didn’t see with my previous ones.
The great majority of people who have slowed down long enough to listen to it, absolutely love it. I agree of course, It’s the fucking bomb. So, it’s a little strange these days for people to tell me that my record resonated with them in one way or another rather than piling on with variations of ‘well, that sucked’ and ‘you suck’.
It definitely is the first one I’ve ever made that is not accompanied by apologies and excuses – ‘if I’d had more time’ or ‘if the drummer hadn’t quit’, etcetera. And even at this moment after listening to it a hundred times, I wouldn’t change a word or a note. That is an f-ing amazing thing to say.
I can’t make a better record. I’m going to make a different record, but this one is finished art and I’m so proud of it. Can’t imagine a more fulfilling experience.
8. Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a tune, a beat, or a narrative in your head?
Songs are gifts from the sky that come to me most often in the form of an emotion that’s just beyond the tip of my tongue. A strong feeling that usually brings me to the edge of tears that words don’t describe easily.
When these feelings come to me, I now recognize how special they are and I work very hard to try and get my arms around them however I can when they show up.
They are topically wide-ranging and there is very little pattern to them. The disciplined craft part of all of this is to write every day and work to keep my channels, pipes, and receptors open to be in a position to receive these raw bits of inspiration.
It may be the young man who thinks everyone is cheering for him when in fact they are laughing at him or the person born without legs who gets prosthetics and wins the race — anything really, it doesn’t have to be so grand either, these bits can be very small moments taken from daily life that for one reason or another are particularly real or beautiful or illustrative of the human condition.
The next part is the sausage factory. There’s no substitute for the work here. Try this, try that, crank up the tempos, change keys, better melody lines. Record it, re-record it, drive around listening to it, throw it away, rescue it from the trash. On and on.
At some point along the way, I was unable to make it through performing each of the ten songs on this record because I was so overcome by the emotion of each one. This became the bar or standard for which tunes made the cut and which ones I threw back.
9. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or music career so far?
Hmmmm. I’m a recent stage 3 colo-rectal cancer survivor. Five surgeries, turned into a skeleton. I have horrific shitting stories to drop the mic at any campfire. That was so scary for my family. It’s crucial to me that I’m around for my wife and kids.
The big one before that was in the mental health arena – mania and anxiety. What a saga that was. I was going about my life and then one day started sleeping less and less – eight hours become six hours, then four, until I stopped sleeping. A few days later, I was completely out of my mind in a grandiose reality and was handcuffed, put into a straightjacket, shot up with rhino tranquilizer, and locked up for over a month.
I could easily fill a few books with all of those ‘Cuckoo’s Nest’ stories. At one point along the way, I went to court versus the State of California for my sanity, chose to defend myself, and lost. Now, hands please, how many of you can say that?
When I was released from that cruel dump. I wasn’t instructed to take any medication and within two weeks was back for an even longer tour.
Then years of being mis-diagnosed as bipolar (which I am not) and mis-medicated into a stupor. I was a drooling idiot unable to read or think or play music. Then if that wasn’t bad enough, I was clobbered by debilitating and at times bedridden anxiety.
Eventually Dr. Awesome arrived, recognized my unconscionable treatment, dialed in the meds, six years of talk therapy and I was ‘all better’.
Today I regularly council people as they move through their mental health and cancer journeys.
Track six on the record, ‘Some Kind of Mother’ is a rally song for people courageously battling the demons in their heads.
10. On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or music career so far?
This question is a bit of a softball for me.
I wrote this record from the cancer bed and made a commitment that if I ever got the chance to record it, I would make it count.
I did not cut any corners at any stage of this project. It is a beautiful record and the high-water mark of my musical career.
11. With social media having a heavy impact on our lives and the music business in general, how do you handle criticism, haters, and/or naysayers in general? Is it something you pay attention to, or simply ignore?
There sure is an abundance of haters out there. Especially in these challenging post-pandemic times. Here in the States, all the Trump-fueled divisiveness only poured gas on that fire.
It is such an unnecessarily toxic environment for the young and developing artists who dare stick their creative heads above ground for a moment only to be smashed like ‘Whac-A-Mole’.
When I released the first track on this record to the streaming platforms, it was met with a lot of resistance because it wasn’t auto-tuned Justin Bieber bullshit – ‘wait, real players playing real instruments, to a song with real lyrics – what is this? Are you some kind of dinosaur? I hate it.’
I’ve been playing guitar, singing, performing, and recording for decades. I’d pay more attention to the haters if they were musicians too – because of course, we musicians are lovers.
There is great power, shock value, control, and attention derived from hate, anger, negativity, and violence – but the good guys always do win. I choose to always head towards the light.
That being said, I’ve got to run. Take care of yourselves. Thanks for reading this – peace!
- Illustrate Magazine, 10/25/22
Interview: I've Tried Sleeping - Some Kind Of Mother
I've Tried Sleeping was born into a classical music home. Piano at 5, then violin in the youth symphony until he was 17. All that was well and good, but his passion beginning when he was about 10 was big sound rock. This music moved him much differently than it did the people around him. I've Tried Sleeping would get the chills spinning those great vinyl records in his bedroom after school. It was a magical time. He dropped the violin and taught himself how to play guitar when he was 17.
Hey I've Tried Sleeping, super nice to have the chance to chat with you. What first got you into music?
Thanks so much for making this interview happen! Hmmm, let's see.
I grew up in a musical house in Southern California. My parents were pretty straight and played classical music on the side. No jamming or improvising, lots of sheet music. Friends would come over frequently to play chamber music. Classical music was spinning on vinyl every night. When my folks let their hair down, they played the folk music that came out of Boston and New York in the mid-1960's -- as well as the body of work that preceded that movement. So, I was very familiar with the music of Pete Seeger and the Weavers, The Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul, and Mary, Joan Baez, and the young Bob Dylan.
I am so thankful and fortunate that my parents created this rich musical environment for me as a young person as music has been such a gift to me in my life.
I studied classical piano at five years old, then violin in youth symphony until I was 17, then a musicmaking-less year in which I cranked Pink Floyd almost exclusively for a year. When I was seventeen, I bought my first acoustic guitar and it was love at first sight.
I still remember when I was nine years old and first heard E.L.O.'s 'Don't Bring Me Down' on my new clock radio. The classical music was all well and good, Sinatra, Beach Boys, John Denver - but all of that music was kicked to the curb by the size, intensity and low end of Van Halen's 'Running with the Devil'. I'm a rocker and I knew it really, really early.
Before long, I had all of the Stones, Who, and Beatles records - which naturally led to Aerosmith, Floyd, Zep, Rush. I went to see 'Kansas' at The Forum in Los Angeles when I was thirteen and witnessed them blow the roof off of that building. I knew then that big-sound rock music was going to be a central part of my life somehow.
In high school I learned to play acoustic guitar around the campfire - all of those 'American Pie' standards. I loved the Grateful Dead and learned to play all of their songs and am as big a Dylan fan as there is and at one point had all of his records and could play all of those songs from memory.
My first bands were super R.E.M.-ish - strummy and mumbly. When they went electric on their third record, I followed and ditched the acoustic for a Strat and a Marshall. I busked all the time and learned a ton from that. I even played on the street in Athens, Greece for a summer. Next, I got into lots of alternative and indie - bands like the Pixies, Minutemen, Replacements, Violent Femmes, Janes Addiction -- the ladies too, Liz Phair, Tori Amos, Aimee Mann. Over those next years, I made a lot of uneven, lo-fi, fun and eclectic records. I'd take bands right to the brink of a record deal and then they would blow up and I would start again. I moved around the country a lot in those years trying to make it happen. Scratch that, 'making it happen'.
How do you balance your time in the studio with other commitments such as a part-time job, family, admin?
I went to get a colonoscopy and came out of the stupor with a bunch people standing over me and crying. Stage three colo-rectal cancer, two years, five surgeries, skeletal, chemo, radiation - the full-on cancer journey. Then, cancer-free, more or less as if it never happened. Cancer is such an indiscriminate shark of a killer. I met so many courageous and positive people in the cancer community fighting the fight who are not with us anymore. I wrote this record from the cancer bed with the resolve that if I ever was given the chance to record it, I would make it count.
I was bumbling my way through life when I unexpectedly met the most beautiful woman in the world and for some reason, she decided to stay with me. She knew that making this record was very important to me in all sorts of ways and was very supportive of it. So, I really appreciate the sacrifices she made to allow me the time to scream unfinished lyrics in the closet and stomp, stomp, stomp my way through the songs in the basement. And for agreeing that shelling out our hard-earned cash was a great idea - yes, big sound rock records are expensive to make.
This record was more or less two and half years in the making - a long time. But it is the fucking bomb. I absolutely love every word and note on it and wouldn't change a thing. That is an amazing thing for a musician to say. I certainly have never said it before. So, now that I am on the press tour and am spending my energy promoting the record, I don't really mind this work. In the past, I really didn't care for it and wanted to spend all of my time and energy in the studio writing and recording - but because I am so pleased with how this record came out, I would love it if the world would listen. It is full of energy.
Your latest song is 'Some Kind Of Mother'. Can you tell us more about the making of it and if there were any unusual things happening during the process?
I made a solemn vow as a young person - I think I was twenty-one - to only play my own material. To live or die trying as a musician with my own tunes rather than play Beatles covers and throw in one of mine after 'Hey Jude'. So, not surprisingly it's been a hustle.
One sunny day when I was twenty-seven, I slept six hours instead of eight. The next night, four hours. Then, two. Then two or three days of zero. My mind was racing and burning, churning with grandiose thoughts. Yep, a full-blown manic episode. Sounds fun but it really isn't, it hurts. They say that I was genetically pre-dispositioned for this event and that the years of hustling as a broke-ass rock musician had nothing to do with it. Ok. A number of strong men eventually showed up at the door, put me in a straightjacket and handcuffs, and took me by ambulance to the funny farm. I was there for six or eight weeks shot up with rhino tranquilizer. There was a moment where my sanity was on trial - me against the state of California. I elected to defend myself and lost. Hands please, how many of you can say that?
When I was released, I was not instructed to take any medication so a few weeks later, I was back at the farm. One night, I scaled the fence in my pajamas, old women peeing on me, lots of stories.
I was then mis-and overly-medicated into a drooling idiot for a few years. During this time, I was unable to read, write, sing, think, taste, see colors - awful. I went to vocational school to learn how to repair computers because that was the best I was going to be able to do.
Then Dr. Awesome appeared, recognized my unconscionable treatment, dialed in my meds and over a two-day period, all of my faculties and senses returned. Total rebirth. Unbelievable.
Just then, I was t-boned with horrific and at times, bedridden anxiety. I think this anxiety resulted from the trauma I'd suffered from the mania - what was to prevent it from happening again?
After six years of talk therapy and all of that accompanying hard work inside my head - I was back to 'normal'.
Today, I am an advocate for all things mental health. I regularly council people in this area and am very comfortable sharing my experiences here with others. It's a shame that mental health issues still have so much shame and stigma attached to them.
The track, 'Some Kind of Mother', is a bit of a Frankenstein of a number of my good friends out there on the front lines in their daily battle with depression.
What is one message you would give to your fans?
What a great question! Hmmm. I mean what if I asked you that? I'd have to start with all of the rated G, cliches - but I have to.
1. Keep your feet moving
2. Don't give a shit about what other people think about you
3. Listen to and welcome all feedback
4. Head towards the light
5. Life is precious, don't waste it
6. Live for yourself, not to please someone else
7. Be true
8. Give it everything you've got
9. Don't be an asshole, a puss, or a douche
10. Don't accept the shitty music being served to you, send it back and listen to the good shit
11. Do the work
What would you be doing right now, if it wasn’t for your music career?
Music is and has always been the best part of my life. I mean no offense or disrespect to the other components - my beautiful family, friends, etc. But if I were a rose bush, my music would definitely be the flowers and blossoms. It has been a part of me from the beginning and will be with me until the end.
I've never been content just noodling around with song ideas or guitar parts in the basement. Music has always been a large-scale mission impossible for me. It's like that 'Kansas' concert I mentioned earlier. I don't want to play the coffee shop, I want to play the arena - with lasers, thank you. I don't really care if you have some psycho-description cued up for my condition, I want to rock and I always have.
To answer your question, without the music component of my life - gosh, that would be dreary - another day in the cubicle.
How do you know when a work is finished?
Songs come to me most often as an emotion that is just beyond the tip of my tongue - just beyond words. A strong feeling that I've never felt before, charged with energy, with a beauty of some sort at its core. They are such a gift and by now I recognize this and when they come, I try to drop everything and get my arms around that emotion and capture it before it dissipates.
Next is a lot of sausage-making as the emotion is translated into a song. There is no excuse for this hard work. Play it, record it, listen to it. Can it be better? Were you convinced? Did the song move you?
I was unable to make it through playing each of the ten songs on this record at some point because I was so overcome emotionally by that song's power that I had to stop. This become the bar for what songs made the cut and which songs I threw back.
I know that a song is finished when I can sing and play it in a complete trance - with the world tuned out - and be completely present and sincere in every word I am singing. And then listen back to this recording and clearly feel that distilled emotion from the song's origin.
Can you write what was your best performance in your career? How do you remember it?
This is a fun question to answer as it's triggering lots of memories of so many different performances over the years - all those people and places - along with the drama of making it there on time, sound checking, and the setup and teardown. Every show is like a birth story. It's amazing they come off at all.
I have a little bit of that James Brown thing where every performance is perfect in its own way. It's art. It happened, move on. I also always believe that my best performance is yet to come.
Just to say it, there never was that show in the stadium with Peter Gabriel where the Queen showed up, but I have played some great ones. Packed rooms and empty ones. Shows where there was a real and magical connection with the audience. Ones that were really stiff and didn't come off. Every sort of technical problem and playing through when sick or injured or dealing with something heavy. It's fun to be the opening act and upstage the headline.
Every show is the realization of a dream because at some point prior, there were two people in a room with some attitude - without a band, tunes, rehearsal space - all of it. There's just so much hard work that gets put in before stepping on any stage.
I guess I'm really not answering your question. The show that keeps popping into my mind was in Ann Arbor, Michigan when I was twenty-four. I had a rocking three-piece long-haired band and we were playing a small packed club upstairs with like a hundred and fifty people squeezed into this brick-walled rectangular room. We went on at midnight after two or three bands had whipped the crowd up. I remember there was this big drunk, shirtless, mosh-pit guy who was right in front of the stage screaming at me to play something with "gristle". So, I adjusted the set list and tried to rock it harder for this guy. After each song, the guy was back in my face yelling, "more gristle!", "more gristle!!" All night, I kept trying but I wasn't able to give this guy what he was looking for.
Do you have a mentor or coach?
I have collected a handful of wonderful muses over the years. These are the people whose feedback and opinion I really listen to when I send them my new material.
One of them is Rick Chapman who was my housemate at school and is now a world-renowned photographer (please look him up, his work will blow you away -- www.rickchapman.com). He was involved in this record from its infancy and after listening to it for months, sent over his gorgeous and suggestive cover art. When Rick tells me that a song is not reaching him or when I have one on the chopping block that he makes a case for me to keep, I listen closely.
Another is my childhood best friend, Rex Cook. Rex is an amazing artist in many disciplines and is also a rocking bass player and gifted songwriter. I've played in a few bands and had so many incredible adventures with Rex over the years. He was instrumental in turning me on to so many of my favorite musical acts - particularly Peter Gabriel, STP, and Jane's Addiction, (please check out his work - www.avatarlabs.com). Rex has a keen awareness of what rocks and what is soulful, from what is not. I love when I send rough tunes over to Rex and he tells me he likes them. With that endorsement, I know I'm on the right track.
Who is your favourite musician?
I'm a Bob Dylan-head to the core. No one else comes close. I have been since 1982. And I promise I'm not picking Bob because its the safest choice imaginable. He is a once in a millennium talent. He hasn't written a stray word in fifty years. His music rips my heart out with its beauty and power. What an inspiration he has been to me. We are so lucky to have him.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to do a big-ass arena tour like Roger Waters with lasers and multimedia. And bring this act to your city and burn it down properly with you. I don't know if that will happen with this record. I hope so. It would be really fun to open up these tunes and jam them out. They all are very visual and could easily be assembled into a story.
I will make the next record. It will rock. Then the next one, which will also rock. At some point, with all of these rocking records, the big-ass arena tour will happen.
- Kamil Bobin, Lost In The Manor, 11/4/22
An Interview With I've Tried Sleeping
The latest from I've Tried Sleeping is a massive self-titled album that ranges in varying styles of arena rock from different decades all rolled into one warm and edgy record that spans a progressive tonality and some psychedelia as well.
The self-titled album release is absolutely vast and sonically outstanding as it brings gigantic guitar sections that feel like songs you listened to growing up.
The real deal classic rock influences are beautiful here and the artist does an excellent job of designing songs that feel cinematic and impactful with wailing leads and that kind of 90's alt edge.
I've Tried Sleeping is almost like cross breeding bands like Yes or The Who with bands like The Pixies.
In other words, this is awesome. And from start to finish you get a feel for memories brought to light, chapters in his life, and it's all got such perfected explanations and descriptions lyrically that you really can visually see the things he's singing about.
Now, I've Tried Sleeping is a full band, and each member really lays it down enough to make an impact on the sound heavily, but the songs are born from Charlie Edwards or at least the project is the brainchild of him.
This was an endlessly addictive and genuine form of rock that we actually miss these days so we're thankful for this band bringing it back into full swing like this.
With the release of such a killer album, we wanted to touch base with the band to find out where this all came from and what may be next for them.
Here's what happened.
Buzz Slayers: Let's kick things off with the self-titled I've Tried Sleeping album. This album has a genuine classic hard rock feel to it. Where did this record come from?
First let me say, thanks for the interview -- it's a pleasure to visit with you. Most of us who've spent time with a guitar in our hands, know what it is like to have a very limited budget and make some sort of demo recording that is not particularly awesome. This is my 23rd studio project. There are good reasons why you haven't been rocking out to projects one through twenty-two. Each was its own study in one way or another of "out of time, out of tune, out of money, and what were you trying to say?" I made a number of me and a guitar recordings, where I could clearly hear these amazingly rich arrangements behind me - but no one else could. Not to get too heavy-duty on you here as we get going, but I just battled stage 3 colo-rectal cancer. I went in for the requisite colonoscopy and came out of the daze, with everyone around me in tears. Five surgeries, skeletal, etc. to now have a clean bill of health and no worse for the wear. I wrote this record from the cancer bed and made the resolution that if I were given a chance, I would make it count. I absolutely love this record. It is the fucking bomb. I never get tired of listening to it. It is my response to this shitty "age of the song" we are enduring. It is a 10 song cohesive whole meant to be listened to in its entirety at loud volume. It is written in the traditions of vinyl from the golden age of rock. The last two songs totally bottom out. And this time, everyone can hear all of those rich arrangements I was always hearing.
Buzz Slayers: So when did music start affecting you? When did you know making music was something you wanted to be doing?
I love this question. I knew when I was 10 years old that music affected me much differently than those around me. For most people, music is just another thing -- like pretzels at a party. I mean, when I would listen to Dark Side of the Moon, it was like I'd go there and somehow make it back. Listening to that amazing rock music from back in the day was life changing. I was always very physically and emotionally moved by music. Even classical music could bring me to tears with its beauty and power. The road to making music is a long one. I learned to play other people's songs. Started writing my own. Got the courage to busk. Played in bands. Started making unconvincing recordings. The answer to your question is, I knew that making music was something I wanted to do when I was 17 but it was a dare not say it dream because there was such a long road ahead and I was just starting out. With each step, the dream was a little closer.
Buzz Slayers: What inspires you to write a song?
I can't not write songs. Am a piece of work in this way. I have to. And I love to. It is a maddening process. Truly. Having these strong feelings and then trying to put them into words. Fumbling and bumbling around with these complicated emotional pieces that don't fit together. Distilling. Walking away, coming back. The songs come to me. They are a gift. I try to be receptive to them when they do show up. There are droughts and monsoons for sure. Sometimes I chew on songs for long periods of time. On this record I wrote one of the songs in a day, another I'd been working on for 26 years.
Buzz Slayers: This record has some great styles! Can you give us some of your top musical influences?
Lyrically, I'm a Bob Dylan-head through and through. I learned so much about songwriting from Paul Simon, I can hear him in there. There's definitely a Harry Chapin, Steve Stills activism thread happening too. When I listen I can hear The Clash, Stone Temple Pilots, Counting Crows, R.E.M., Peter Gabriel, U2, The Police. The ladies too - Liz Phair, Aimee Mann, Tori Amos, PJ Harvey.
Buzz Slayers: What are you doing when you're NOT working on music?
I'm an athlete and love doing anything outside, love the woods, big wave body surfing, high speed roller blading, lakes and rivers, animals, LOVE all of my relationships with people, all art, enjoy taking it all in, what an incredible world we live in and what an exciting time to be here!
Buzz Slayers: Who's in your headphones right now?
This is kind of lame, but when I'm in songwriting mode I really don't listen too much to other artists because I unintentionally and oftentimes embarrassingly end up stealing their material and thinking that it is my own. This past summer, I spent a lot of time at the waterpark with my kids and they were constantly playing "867-5308 Jenny Jenny". So of course I wrote my reconstituted version of it - which rocked in a heavy-handed, straight ahead kind of way and then introduced it to my band. After a bit, like the Emperor and his clothes, AJ the drummer said, "hey, that kind of sounds like Jenny Jenny." After which, it was all hands on deck, do whatever could be done musically to make the tune NOT sound like Tommy Tutone. Anyway, that song didn't make the record, so all was ok -- but no, not listening to other music now because I'm writing the next record.
Buzz Slayers: Are you doing any live performances right now?
This record has great size. It's somewhere between a large hall and a stadium. It needs lasers. I'd see this band for sure if it came to my town. I'm not interested in the KCRW stripped down intimate acoustic version of this material. I want to see it huge and loud with big theatre, like Roger Waters. That of course is outrageously expensive. I hope the forces align and we can get a big tour going. I don't know if it will be this record or the next or the next, but it's going to happen.
Buzz Slayers: This album feels like a big undertaking, is there any advice you'd give to other up and coming artists out there?
Thank you! Yes, this record was a big deal. Definitely not written in a day. It took forever and cost a lot of money. Real players playing real instruments, huge drum room, multiple tube stacks, lots of layered guitar tracks, Hammond C3 from the '50's, NO auto-tune, tambourine, percussion, patiently mixed with the best gear, mastered, the whole thing. Sure is a fucking satisfying feeling to listen to that 46 minute piece without a stray word or note. My advice? Hmmm. Don't sell out. Never try to be someone other than yourself/be yourself, you're awesome. Do the work. Take the risk but don't extend yourself so far that you can't make it back. Collect great muses.
Buzz Slayers: What can your fans expect from you in the near future?
I don't know what is going to happen, but I want to do the whole thing. Big ass next record, huge-ass in your face rock show coming to your city.
Buzz Slayers: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?
Thank you so much for listening. It makes me feel a little less like a freak to know that there are other people out there in the world with similar resonances. Appreciate you -- Turn it up!!
- Buzz Slayers, 10/12/22
Interview With Charlie Edwards Regarding The “I’ve Tried Sleeping” Album
I’ve Tried Sleeping is a Spokane-based band formed by Charlie Edwards on vocals and guitar, Jay Condiotti as lead guitarist, Eddie Ramirez as bassist, AJ Ramirez as drummer & Percussionist, Kelly Porter as electric organist & Synth, and Calista Edwards on cello.
We had a one-on-one interaction with the band’s main vocalist Charlie Edwards ahead of the release of their 10-track album “I’ve Tried Sleeping” on November 13th this year to learn more about the album and their inspiration as we were instantaneously enthralled by their breath-taking tales as well as the stunning cinematic productions.
We adore what this band embodies and hope you do as well.
SONGWEB: TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND HOW YOUR WORK AS AN ARTIST IS INFLUENCED BY IT.
CHARLIE: I was born into a classical music home. Piano at 5, then violin in the youth symphony until I was 17. All that was well and good, but my passion beginning when I was about 10 was a big sound rock. This music moved me much differently than it did the people around me. I would get the chills spinning those great vinyl records in my bedroom after school. It was a magical time.
I dropped the violin and taught myself how to play guitar when I was 17. By then I was a Bob Dylan head and soon could play every one of his songs from memory. I started my first band when I was 18 and we would play this acoustic strummy folk-rock along the lines of R.E.M.’s first two records. When that band made the transition to rock with coherent lyrics on their third album, I got a Stratocaster, a Marshall amp, and a new band and started to rock.
Everything in those days was about a band’s “demo” tape. Its quality determined the band’s opportunities. Over the next 15 years, I would repeat some version of this loop 20 times:
Pull every favor I possibly could and somehow…
1. Take a band into the studio
2. Record as many songs as possible
3. Get this EP or record it out to as many people as would listen to it
Next, I would receive several pats on the head (“Son, you’ve got promise…”) as the out-of-tune, out of time, “what’s the point of that song?” recording was dismissed or faded away. This cycle of disappointment and poverty would blow up the band and I’d begin again.
SONGWEB: WHO ARE YOUR MOST IMPORTANT ARTISTIC INFLUENCES?
CHARLIE: Bob Dylan, James Brown, R.E.M., Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Paul Simon, Toots Hibbert, Peter Gabriel, Bruce Springsteen, U2, The Clash, Replacements, Pixies, Scott Weiland.
SONGWEB: WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION AND WHAT TRENDS INFLUENCE YOUR WORK?
CHARLIE: Songs are a gift. They come from the sky to me most often as a strong feeling. An annoying, usually undefined emotion that is just out of reach. I wrestle with these grains of sand (often for years) before they are ultimately translated into four-minute rock songs. Some translations are far more successful than others. The beauty or power of these feelings usually brings me to tears. I know I’ve done an adequate job of writing and arranging when the finished song does as well.
SONGWEB: COULD YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR CURRENT PROJECT AND ITS PRODUCTION PROCESS?
CHARLIE: Not to come across as a grump, but today’s rock music generally is terrible — when compared to the volume, breadth, risk, and overall quality it enjoyed from 1970-1990 when the music industry paid, nurtured, and developed its artists.
Track #3 on the record, HARD HITTING ROCK spells all of this out.
This project began as my childish response to this current “age of the song” we are in. Where an artist is a “brand” that might get 8 seconds of distracted listening by a wannabe influencer on an iPhone.
In response, I set out to make a recording in the traditions of a classic vinyl record – think DARK SIDE OF THE MOON. At one point in the process, I remember the record was made up of five 10-minute epic mid-tempo trips.
This balloon popped when Donald Trump took over, covid hit and we were out marching for social justice. The record then became very topical and political. I’ve learned the hard way that these sorts of songs age rapidly and in the blink of an eye become yesterday’s news. So I kept distilling, cranking up the tempos, and editing out the non-essential parts to realize I was making a Clash record.
SONGWEB: IN WHAT WAYS HAS THIS PROJECT AIDED YOU IN OTHER ASPECTS OF YOUR LIFE?
CHARLIE: It’s really easy to start creative projects and a different animal to complete them. I walk around smugly these days with an ear-to-ear grin because this record is the fucking bomb and I made it on my terms without compromise. It has helped to restore my faith in the value of pursuing our dreams — and that with hard work, honesty, and focus — just about anything is possible.
SONGWEB: COULD YOU BRIEFLY DEFINE THE OBJECTIVE OR PURPOSE OF YOUR WORK?
CHARLIE: I write and play music intending to make the world a better place. Maybe provide a spark, a ray of hope, some inspiration, or a distraction in response to the cold and dark. There is a lot of beauty at the core of each of these songs that with repeated listening can help the listener to heal.
SONGWEB: DO YOU HAVE ANY ARTIST RELATIONSHIPS, AND HOW DO THEY HELP YOU?
CHARLIE: Yes, I am blessed to be part of a community of incredibly talented artistic muses in various disciplines. They let me know directly when I’m off track or have crossed the insincerity line. I mean, imagine sitting around the kitchen table with an acoustic guitar across from Bob Dylan — the songs I would choose to play for him would have to be very special and edited countless times. This exercise of imagining that my musical heroes are always listening in helps me greatly in the process.
SONGWEB: DESCRIBE HOW WE CAN HELP YOU ADVANCE YOUR CAREER.
CHARLIE: There is only one way to make great big-sound, arranged, rock records — and that is, to make a lot of bad ones. This record is my 23rd trip to the recording studio. I have an amazing band and we’re chomping at the bit to take all that we learned from making this amazing record and begin recording the next one. So, the short answer to this question is to do whatever you can to get people to listen to it. Then, they can make it their own and share it with the people they love.
SONGWEB: WHAT HAVE YOUR CRITICS AND COLLECTORS HAD TO SAY ABOUT YOUR WORK?
CHARLIE: Everybody who has slowed down enough to listen loves this record. There is not a stray note or misplaced word for 47 consecutive minutes. Its urgency doesn’t relent. The ten songs were written as a collective whole and built to a powerful crescendo on track 9. Then track 10 lifts the listener up off the ground from there.
SONGWEB: HOW DO YOU HONE YOUR ABILITIES?
CHARLIE: Practice, practice, practice. Meditation. Practice empathy — what might it feel like to be in that person’s skin? I try to keep my eyes open and feet on the ground — to believe in the good and always head towards the light.
The band’s sounds on the record are far-reaching and gloriously expressive. Charlie Edwards’ vocals are deliciously hypnotic, and the melodies are rhythmic, engaging, and distinctive. The instrumental arrangement is relatively well-balanced, and it offers a robust enough accompaniment to make the entire album engaging, as well as expressive for more effect. Overall, I believe the record is of sufficient quality in its present form.
Listen to the “I’ve Tried Sleeping” album on Spotify and let us know your thoughts. Cheers!
- Michael Jamo, Songweb.net, 10/1/22
I’ve Tried Sleeping Rocks Hard - Interview
What is your stage name?
My name is Charlie Edwards. I never was able to fully commit to a persona the way "Sting", "Bono", or "Flea" have. That always seemed a bit more than I was ready for, like getting a "tear" tattoo on your face. My BAMF 5-piece band is 'I've Tried Sleeping".
Is there a story behind your stage name?
The name, "I've Tried Sleeping", was born from a lyric on track two of this record, "Not Talking Squatch":
I've tried sleeping with the wool pulled over my eyes
You can move on now there's nothing behind the door
But there's no relief your story just don't add up
You can move on now there's nothing behind the door
I've got questions is there anyone out there left to dial
You can move on now there's nothing behind the door
If you're going to lie to me
Please give me a story that in time I'll be able to forget
This is a classic "I don't particularly trust the government" or "like a person, the government is susceptible to gross fallibility" song. In the song, "I've tried sleeping" could translate to, "I've desperately tried to ignore this affront by sleeping through it or pretending to go along with the thin story, but I just can't do it anymore -- I'm awake and my eyes are open."
Where do you find inspiration?
I don't particularly look for inspiration, it finds me. There are droughts and monsoons for sure, but I try to keep my receptors open. I am an empath and really feel the emotional energy of people. I constantly try to put myself in another person's skin and feel that for a while. I just go about my life and without muscling it, am eventually struck by some perfect irony, or beautifully human response to some obstacle, or something that makes me laugh -- really anything. I then chew on these bits for a while and distill them -- like panning for gold -- to see if there is anything worthwhile there to string together.
What was the role of music in the early years of your life?
Music was a colorful and magical escape. I would close my eyes, disappear and explore all of those rich and wonderful landscapes that classical music provided. When I started spinning rock records, It was still an escape but now with an urgent physical component -- so I'd shake it and stomp around with an attitude to all of that great classic rock.
Are you from a musical or artistic family?
Yes, my parents were classical musicians and would have friends over to play chamber music together. This was super cool, but if someone were to take their sheet music away they wouldn't know what to do. I always thought that my Dad secretly wanted to rock, but cared too much about what people thought of him to try.
Who inspired you to be a part of the music industry?
Bob Dylan. Period. Without a doubt. An army and a village of incredible artists took me to the mountaintop. But Bob pushed me off. My god, what a gift that man is. We are so lucky to have him.
How did you learn to sing/write/to play?
Classical piano at 5, then youth symphony violin until I was 16. Then that incredible day when I accidentally shattered my violin on a stone floor as I was turning a page of sheet music. When I was 17, I bought my first acoustic guitar and taught myself how to play. A total rebellion against all of that disciplined instruction I'd endured over the years. I'll never forget how great that freedom to play whatever and however I wanted was at that time. Before long, I'd worn out my Bob Dylan and Grateful Dead songbooks and was playing the campfire. A few years later, I made myself go out and busk on the street all over the city I was in -- day, night, underground, above ground. Those busking experiences over those ensuing years taught me the most about humility, sincerity, commitment, performance and connecting.
What was the first concert that you ever went to and who did you see perform?
I love this question. Yep, I was in 7th grade and my best friend's dad took us to KANSAS at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles. The keyboardist, Steve Walsh, was doing handstands on the keyboard in tight running shorts with wrist sweat bands while singing lead vox. At the time, I was a dorky violinist, so Robby Steinhardt was mesmerizing. There was all sorts of blow and reefer happening all around us, but I wasn't paying any attention. Man, that band rocked the shizz out of that building that night. I knew then that was what I wanted to do.
How could you describe your music?
I truly don't try to sound like anybody else, so my music is not categorically derivative. Without trying too hard, you can easily hear all sorts of other artists in there. I try to write very efficient, economic, interesting stuff. I believe in sweat, sincerity and urgency. Songs to me are very much like magic tricks. At the core of each, there is a "trick" that gives the song its power. If the listener knew the trick, the song would immediately lose its magical aura. Each of the 10 songs on this record derive their power using a different trick.
What musician do you admire most and why?
Got to go back to Bob Dylan. And cross my heart, I'm not gushing over Bob, because that is safe territory. His music just hit me like a freight train from the very beginning. "It takes rocks and gravel baby to make a solid road." I had every one of his records and at one point could play every one of his songs from memory. I could list hundreds of lyrics that are so damn perfect, with every word so right on target. He is hilarious. What an eye. What an editor. Pioneer. How fearless and courageous. Mmmmm mmmm.
Did your style evolve since the beginning of your career?
Absolutely. I started as a strummy folkie, playing American Pie around the campfire and today I'm a big hall rocker -- I mean the end of track 9, "Build Something Golden", could start a fire. I'll connect those dots a little more clearly. My first real band was very R.E.M. sounding - lots of mumbling and mid-tempo strumming. Then a few bands that were very indie and art-rock (think, Replacements, Bob Mould, Minutemen, Radiohead, etc.). Later, I really connected with Scott Weiland and STP's songwriting, size and urgency.
Who do you see as your main competitor?
The constant enemy for me has always been the stoopid pop music. Glossy, dumb-ass, simple, repetitive, pop. Those songs with enormous, inane, undeserved choruses that repeat and repeat. It's not envy. I guess it's disappointment in people's laziness. Like eating fast food. Come on now people, do the work, you'll be better for it -- listen to the good shit.
What are your interests outside of music?
In no order. I LOVE my relationships with people, body surfing big waves, nordic skiing, roller blading, animals and nature, all art.
If it wasn't a music career, what would you be doing?
Well this one is a bit of a softball, because when I got all dressed up and went to Los Angeles to accept the keys to the music kingdom there was nobody and nothing there. No opportunity. An imploded music industry. So bitterly, I had to construct another career. Today were in the age of "free". And according to my music industry guru, what I need to do now is give my music away for free to the world and if anyone happens to slow down long enough to listen to it, thank them profusely. The artist is just getting creamed these days. There's a lot of hustle and not a lot of opportunity. That is why the music is so shitty. "57 Channels (And Nothin' On)".
What is the biggest problem you have encountered in the journey of music?
I've never been interested in playing the music that is popular at the time. I've always been ahead, behind or off to the side of it. I intentionally write challenging lyrics and music that the listener is probably not going to like that much for the first few listens. It's a bit too new and unsettling but if they can hang with it -- sometime around the sixth listen, they get it and can't turn it off. This has been a challenge. The short answer and not very exciting answer to the question is, "opportunity". Limited opportunity. Plenty of opportunity to sell out, play covers, jingles, etc. -- tough to make a go of it as my authentic self and consistently put food on the table.
If you could change one thing in the music industry, what would it be?
Oooh, I love this question! Makes me want to do the 3 wish genii thing, where somehow I get more wishes. Let's overhaul the motherfucker. Back in the day, there was live music EVERYWHERE. I tell my kids versions of this story and they think it's a bedtime fairytale. College and independent radio was king, everybody had a band, the music wasn't so damned precious and cautious -- it was FUN and wild and dangerous. Anyway. Short answer, pay the artists and you'll get better art. We need systems within the music business (like A&R of old) that nurture, support, and develop young talent and more and better venues to perform in.
What are your plans for the coming months?
I'm dying to take my band back into the studio to record the next record. We all learned so much making this one, the next one will be an absolute bomb.
What message would you like to give to your fans?
Thank you so much for listening to my music. There's a real "message in a bottle" thing with all of this. Am I all alone? The only one who feels this way? You confirm that I am not and that is wonderful. Really appreciate you. Turn it up!!
- MUSIC ARENA GH, 10/13/22