By Jeremy Essig
By Jason Robinson
By Hans Morgenstern
By Joseph Hess
By Peter Gilstrap
By Julia Burch
By Jeremy Essig
By Nathan Smith
It's a really complex feeling. You hear about stuff going on, and I feel among the stuff and not among it at the same time. That song ended up reflecting that complex feeling. It was also about figuring out how to live in a city. Dealing with the pressures of gentrification but realizing that you're a part of it. We're still freelance printmakers who have to figure out how to make a way in the city. This is a good city to be an artist in, but you have to keep making up your life.
Sult: I think also a big difference in the album is, when Paige says, "What do you do when you're born in 63118?" It's her act of imagining that. One thing about us is, we were not born in 63118. We occupy it, and we're proud of it, but there's a big difference between being born here and going to the middle schools and high schools here, and deciding what you're gonna do about gangs here. There are so many things that we see around us. To me, what's interesting about the song is that it starts out with something being stolen from us, but it moves through a sense of hope that something good comes of that, that ultimately helps something happen in the neighborhood. Which is a pretty bizarre response to having your van stolen. But at the same time I would say — and I didn't write the songs — but the song is an act of integration.
It gets to another question, too: In the song, you basically say, if we were going to move, we would have left already. Has it been a question for Sleepy Kitty to move out of the area? Has that been something you've encountered or discussed as you think of your five- or ten-year plan?
Sult: I will say that this is the longest that either of us has lived at one place, at one address. And that's big. Ever since college, I've moved every year or two. So being here and watching what has happened just by not moving away from this address or this neighborhood or this city or whatever has been a big learning process unto itself.
Brubeck: It's interesting, being here a while and developing a relationship to the neighborhood and the city and the region — as a band, when we go on tour we're coming as a St. Louis band. For right now and for the present, it has made sense for us to be in St. Louis, and it has made sense for us to be making our work here. We wouldn't have become the band we have become, or have the subject matter or style we have, had we not moved here. We would have been a different band if we stayed in Chicago. Wherever we go — or when whatever happens next in the future — I will always say that we'll have a part of us that relates to St. Louis. The things I've learned from St. Louis are things that I cannot forget.
Sult: It's kind of a question for us as we go. One of the things that we have found is that we really like being from St. Louis, and we really like touring out of St. Louis — we really like representing St. Louis. We bring out the Tower Groove Records sampler; we're constantly telling people about Cherokee Street and Off Broadway and the City Museum. I still think of Cherokee Street as this just barely believable story, and if you're around here, it's not really believable: It's better than real life most of the time. You walk down the street and you literally know everybody on the street, and their projects — they're all doing stuff. That's really cool to us.
We're at a moment in our band and in our professional lives that we've built a lot here. But if you're gonna live in Europe or New York, you've gotta pick a time to do it. It can't always be in the future if that's what you're gonna do. In a way, there's this other side of being in a band in St. Louis, which is the more you do here and the more you experience here, the more there is to tell people about here. I think, to a certain extent, there has to be those people. Pokey LaFarge — you couldn't ask for a better ambassador for St. Louis than him, and it's gonna take more than just Pokey getting the word out. That does feel like the responsibility of a band that is getting out of St. Louis to complete the short-story collection that is this city, right now.