Premiere: Sunsleeper Shares New Album ‘While You Can’

Oct 07, 2022

By Caleb Campbell

Photography by Megan Mudgett

Ever since the pandemic interrupted the tour for their debut album, Salt Lake City-based band Sunsleeper have been making up for lost time. The band returned to the stage earlier this year with a series of tour dates and have spent the year sharing a string of singles leading up to their newly released sophomore album, While You Can, out today via Rude Records.

Recorded and produced by Brett Romnes (Oso Oso, Hot Mulligan) and mastered by Will Putney (Counterparts, Knocked Loose), the album finds the band evolving their sweeping ‘90s alt rock nostalgia with newfound warmth and presence. As the band describes, the record was inspired by their attempts to live in the moment and find meaning in the chaos of life.

Vocalist Jeffrey Mudgett explains, “The record chronicles the understanding of being mindful and present in the midst of distractions and compulsions to do the opposite. Modern western society often doesn’t give us a chance to pause and appreciate what is happening right in front of us. Sometimes even our muses and expressions can turn into such distractions.”

That reflective undercurrent runs throughout the album, with echoes of it showing up even in the warm glowing melodies of the opener, “Porch Light,” or the shimmering twilit harmonies found on “Stay Home.” Other tracks like “Anywhere” strip the band’s sound back further, even as the band offers plenty of moments of towering rock bombast with “In The Clouds,” “Feel What You Can,” or the late album highlight, “Currents.”

The band creates vibrant indie rock magic in each of these settings, infusing the record with both soaring hopeful emotion and soft-hearted intimacy. While exploring the complicated worlds of anxiety, unraveling relationships, and grief, the band have crafted a warm ode to making the most of every moment.

Check out the full record below. You can also read the band’s track-by-track guide through the album.

1. Porch Light

Everyone has an idea of what their life is supposed to be like. That’s the problem. Am I going to be okay? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, it’s okay. At the end, it may be more of an absence of feeling than a resolution. It will be okay. I am just here to have a good time. – Cody Capener (guitar)

2. In The Clouds

I have a tendency of getting stuck in my head, recounting all the things I wish were different. Due to the nature of the pandemic and the civil unrest of 2020, many people’s true colors bubbled to the surface. I found myself longing for simpler times a lot while processing the stark shift in many of my relationships during that timeframe. This song recounts the realization that many people I held in high esteem in my life ended up not being the people I thought they were, including myself. – Jeffrey Mudgett (vocals, guitar)

3. Blemishes

“Blemishes” is about the slow unraveling of a deeply important friendship, as well as the acceptance of the relationship’s end. The freedom in letting go of a toxic relationship is underrated. Sometimes there’s no need to mourn the end, but rather we should celebrate leaving that toxicity behind. – Jeffrey

4. Stay Home

I’ve always struggled with living in the present moment. I often find myself either romanticizing the past or living for what the future could bring. This can be a detriment to those closest to me. This song chronicles the ebb and flow of being caught up with future minded thinking, and the realization that everything I need is in the present moment. – Jeffrey

5. Anywhere

“Anywhere” is about the continued anxiety of losing a family member and attempting to accept how things ended. I wrote this song about how I imagined it would feel if I were handling the loss in a healthy manner in hopes to make that my reality. I think this has helped. – Matt Mascarenas (guitar)

6. Quitter

“Quitter” is about the pains and joys of being a band. How touring is both incredibly fulfilling while also being a detriment to normalcy and comfortability. Poking fun at the comparison game. The realization that creating music in a live scenario is often the place I feel the most present, when I allow myself to be. – Jeffrey

7. Feel What You Can

Sometimes it’s hard to not feel like I’m too late in aspects of my life. This song details times I’ve wrestled with feelings of waste and failure. Reminding myself to stay grounded in the present moment and to not live in the future. – Jeffrey

8. Currents

“Currents” is a song about feeling stuck in a cycle that we have no ability to break. Grappling with the fact that life is like currents, forever undulating.

When we entered the studio, “Currents” was a handful of loose ideas with an incomplete structure and no melodies or lyrics. It was exciting to essentially build the song from the ground up in the studio, though it was challenging.

Initially all we had solidified was the idea for Jacob’s gnarly intro bass line as well as the verse and chorus chords. We still needed a bridge and outro. We ended up repurposing an alternate song idea and turned it into the bridge along with a tempo change. At this point Brett Romness (producer) suggested we go back into the chorus chords with the original BPM for the outro, but we needed a way to make that shift in tempo seamless. A guitar solo was suggested to which Matt rose to the occasion, writing the bridge riff in 20 – 30 minutes.

After the structure was solidified, we focused on each of our individual instruments. While one member tracked their parts/ideas with Brett, the rest of us would be in adjacent rooms working out parts on the spot. I (Jeff) spent most of the tracking process coming up with melody and lyrics inspired by the sonic direction the song was taking. It was awesome to check in occasionally and see how the song was developing. Everyone absolutely killed it.

The song had taken on a very fluid undertone sonically which led me to lean into the water theme lyrically. Jacob made mention the song felt cyclical which inspired the theme of feeling stuck in a loop. Melodically I leaned into some influences like The Weeknd, Balance and Composure, The Neighborhood, etc.

When we first entered the studio we weren’t sure if “Currents” would make the cut, and now it’s a favorite. Love me some studio magic. – Jeffrey

9. Way Out

During 2020 a lot of us turned to casual comforts to distract from the impending unknown that the pandemic held. This song dives into the pains of substance escapism and the ramifications. – Jeffrey

“Way Out” was the first song I wrote for While You Can when the pandemic hit. I got home from a canceled tour and immediately started writing to keep myself busy. You can hear the frustration in the song with it leaning to the heavier side of the record. I also cut down on alcohol and started to gain clarity realizing how much we were drinking when we were on tour and how bad it was making us feel. – Matt

10. Thief

When it comes to future minded thinking, it’s not always hopeful or progress focused. Sometimes I find myself worrying about loss. This song is about the preemptive worry of losing loved ones. Missing people before they’re gone. – Jeffrey

One of the sharpest pains in this life is being acutely aware that everyone you know and love will die. The preemptive worry of losing a loved one overshadows the fear of my own death so often. I start to miss people before they’re gone. – Cody

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