Germ was recently able to sit down with Charles Grace, front man of South Carolina-based indie/rock band Sleeping Policeman to talk shop, music, and future shows.
When did you first starting learning, writing, and performing?
Charles Grace: I started playing guitar when I was 13, and then I wrote my first “real” song when I was 16, and I played in different bands through high school and college. I had been writing stories and stuff even before I played music, so when I started playing, I just naturally started writing; it didn’t even occur to me that I wouldn’t write songs. I didn’t even know that there were musicians out there that didn’t write. Once I got to college I realized there are so many different roles for musicians.
What encourages you to keep pursuing music?
Ooh, that’s a great question, especially since I don’t wake up feeling like a rock star everyday, and now that I’m facing adulthood. It’s really been other people that have encouraged me cause my own mind isn’t very encouraging at all. Being able to share creativity and have people genuinely respond positively. My best friend really helped me and pulled me out of a state of negativity. He really helped me with the new album and supported me all the way. There’s also been other people really supporting me. It’s been good solid friends and community that have kept me going. Tom Conlon said he didn’t like the term “independent artist” because no one does anything alone; that really speaks to me. I definitely haven’t done any of this alone.
Who are some of your musical influences?
I’m kind of all over the place. Like my favorite rock band since high school has been Coheed and Cambria. I really like Jeff Buckley, Glen Hansard, The Avett Brothers, Ray Lamontagne. Those artists that really wear their hearts on their sleeves.
Tell me about your previous albums.
I released my first album, An Untitled Tale, about 4 years ago, then Closing Chapters was about 3 years ago. And now I just released my latest album, Anticipation.
What is your new album like? What inspired it?
I started writing songs for this album back in January 2012. It wasn’t really planned; I just ended up having enough material. Half the record came within the last year. It was inspired by a bunch of stuff in my life that I was going through. This feels like my most mature collection of songs. My brother said this album really established my own sound, which I find is the biggest compliment — when you can tell that it’s a certain artist by a certain element. It’s really my first “grown up” album, the first album I recorded in a professional studio. The first album to be on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify; and, the physical copy will be on Bandcamp and CDbaby.
What’s your favorite song on the album?
“Caretaker’s Eyes.” Musically it was the most fun to write and arrange and play with the band; it was great to hear the full vision of the song. It was really fun to develop the song, and it has a lot of transitions. The drummer and bassist really revived the song. Lyrically, it means a lot. I wrote it over the course of 5 months. It was inspired by a conversation with my brother about becoming a father, but then I finished it after I was baptized. So it has this double meaning between the birth of my niece and the rebirth of myself.
Tell me a bit about your band.
It’s 5 people, including myself. Zach Thomas on guitar, Jack Graham on keys, Peter Straus on drums, and Thomas Smith on bass. It’s always been my dream to have a consistent band, not just a solo thing, like Queen or Led Zeppelin — the same group of guys that always played together. This line up kind of fell into my lap after years of looking for bandmates; suddenly everyone in the group approached me about being in a band.
What’s your greatest musical memory?
A couple of years ago, I played the main stage at House of Blues Myrtle Beach — the same stage where I saw Coheed and Cambria and The Black Keys. A few hundred people showed up. It really blew me away.
What cool things are you up to next?
November 29th I’m playing with the band at Fat Cats Cafe. I have a radio interview/performance at WXRYunsigned in Columbia the night of November 30th, and on December 6th I’m playing at Crossroads restaurant at House of Blues.