BG-based Sleeper Agent living tour life

Lee Williams, bottom, and Scott Gardner, top, of Sleeper Agent relax during a night off in Memphis. “We take any chance we get to stay in an actual house. Even if we sacrifice a little comfort by sleeping on couches or inflatable beds, we gain it back and then some from clean laundry and home-cooked meals,” Gardner said. “A stay in an actual home leaves you feeling a little bit more human than a stay in some random hotel.”

Chris Rutledge

Life is moving fast for the members of Sleeper Agent as they fly down Interstate 65 on a seven-hour drive from Chicago to Nashville.

Running on four hours of sleep and exhausted from back-to-back tours with  fun. — which is another band — and Ben Kweller, the most frustrating part of the day for bassist Lee Williams comes when the band speeds right past the exit to Bowling Green.


“I haven’t seen home for a month-and-a-half, and I won’t see it again for another month,” William said. “All I want to do is just lay down in my bed.”

Instead, the band will finish out the tour with Kweller, play a few more dates with fun., and then it’s off to Indio, Calif., where the band will play one of its biggest shows yet, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

Getting on the Coachella lineup wasn’t something Williams expected, but if there’s anything the past year has taught him, it’s to expect the unexpected.

In 2010 the band was one of the low-billed opening acts for WKU’s M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan concert on campus.

Since then, the sextet has released a critically acclaimed album cut with Cage The Elephant producer Jay Joyce, won second place in Rolling Stone’s Best New Artists of 2011 and made its network television debut on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

But Williams was nonetheless surprised when the Coachella lineup was announced and his band was among the likes of Radiohead and At The Drive-In.

“We found out the same way the rest of the world did,” Williams says.

Williams’ bandmate, keyboardist Scott Gardner, said that while the band’s success didn’t come overnight, it can be surreal at times.

“It was almost like an exponential growth,” Gardner says. “The past few years have been pretty much a whirlwind.”

And while the band members are thrilled about their meteoric rise, singer/guitarist Tony Smith says they’ve barely had time to take it all in.

“As soon as we achieve one goal, we start focusing on our next goal,” Smith says.

Which isn’t to say the band isn’t having fun along the way. Smith fondly recalls playing a cruise with Weezer, meeting Questlove and Jimmy Fallon, and starring in a music video directed by his friend Matt Shultz of Cage The Elephant.

Shultz and company have played a big part in Sleeper Agent’s success, taking the band on tours across the country and helping promote them via social networking. But Smith said touring with friends has its downsides.

“It’s always great to see them, but the next morning is always the worst morning ever,” Smith said. “Sometimes it’s better to be in your zone and not know anybody. If we’re around Cage, we might drink too much, we might put things off…”

“We might lose a bunch of money at dice,” guitarist Josh Martin said with a chuckle.

Smith shares in the laugh but maintains his focused demeanor. Smith said the band’s next goal is to achieve success overseas.

“We’ve been around the country almost four times in the past year,” he says. “We’ve seen America — now we want to see what’s on the other side.”

And while the band members are looking forward to spending some time in Bowling Green when they finally get a break, it will be fleeting, as Smith said the band plans to continue its rigorous touring for the foreseeable future.

“I don’t think any of us want to stop for at least the first three years,” he said. “Whether it’s touring, recording or promoting, we just want to keep going and going and going.”