Fort Wayne has no shortage of musicians and artists putting on exciting shows that draw a crowd. But no matter how good a smaller and mid-level band is, there’s just no replicating the electrifying experience of a big arena rock show inside a smaller venue.
Starsleeper, the brainchild of Fort Wayne vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Steve Dwyer, delivers a hard-hitting blend of electronic and hard rock with mesmerizing live production. And they’re giving the big time a run for its money.
By digging deep into their vast influences, Dwyer — along with brother Paul Dwyer and Brian Cuprys on guitar, Bruce Stelter on drums, and Arend Raby on bass — drag their listeners through an intense sonic journey that matches their show.
Revolutionary local music
Recently, Dwyer took some time to speak with Whatzup. We discussed everything from Starsleeper’s unique sound and why they’re a perfect gateway into heavy music, to why they’re a revolutionary idea in a local music scene.
Is Starsleeper a direct reflection of your artistic vision or a collaborative effort?
It’s both, really. I started Starsleeper in 2015, and up to this point, have driven a lot of the artistic vision/direction of the music. That said, ideas for songs or parts come from all of us in the band. Since we’re all recording enthusiasts, we’re able to collaborate remotely when we’re in pre-production. From there, it’s just about building up enough ideas to make a record.
When I hear your new album, Wish. Hope. Pray., I hear a mix of Nine Inch Nails, Twenty One Pilots, and Killswitch Engage. But how would you describe your sound?
In terms of genres, it’s a blend of hard rock, metal, with some industrial elements woven in. Our sound, when combined with melodic vocals, is much more accessible for people that don’t necessarily listen to metal.
The album covers a broad sonic spectrum. What types of music fans are most drawn to Starsleeper?
We tend to attract the hard rock and metal fans. But there hasn’t been a show yet where someone doesn’t approach us and say, “I’m not even into that kind of music, but that was awesome.” That is always such a rush because they’re excited to have found something new. And we’re excited to have connected to someone.
Your fans are also very loyal, which is not always the case with mid-level bands. Why do you think fans embrace your music so passionately?
We’ve definitely noticed that our fans appreciate diversity in their music. Our music has a lot of elements. So a wide array of people like it for many different reasons. But our goal is always the same: Put on a fun, meaningful, and entertaining show that brings an arena concert vibe to small and mid-sized venues. We also work really hard to exceed our fan’s expectations.
Speaking of your show, it’s amazing how much you can do in these smaller venues. Tell me what fans expect at a Starsleeper show.
They can expect a well-refined performance. We put a lot of time into practice, show adjustments, and the details that keep our performance immersive. The other side of it is the friend/community aspect. We want to hang with you. And we always set up a TV and PS4 at the merch table and end up playing Rocket League with people.
What inspired that level of production and interaction?
We wanted our shows to be a multi-sensory experience. That meant that we had to do it big and do it right or it just wasn’t worth it. Ultimately, it’s gone beyond making the show more entertaining. Today it’s about making the Starsleeper experience special and unique.
We think that people can be immersed in a concert experience, no matter the venue. And we’ve had people tell us that they were “lost” in the show. As soon as the show started and the lights synched with the music, it pulled them in and didn’t let them go until the house lights came back on. That, for us, is a huge compliment.
Starsleeper is part of a healthy and growing Fort Wayne music scene. What does that mean to you?
The amount of talent, good bands, and venues in Fort Wayne make it an amazing musical community. Everyone has been so friendly, humble, and supportive.
The collective musicianship in this city is outrageous. And the community isn’t taking it for granted. People love going to shows here. The appetite for live music, culture, and the arts is huge. There’s definitely an energy here that doesn’t exist anywhere else, and we couldn’t be more excited to be a part of it.
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