Noise-pop duo Sleigh Bells’ story is a charming one.
Singer Alexis Krauss met guitarist/producer Derek Miller when he waited on her and her mother at a restaurant. Miller — who previously played guitar in the hard-core band Poison the Well — mentioned he was looking for a female vocalist for a new project. Krauss’ mom volunteered her for the spot.
The rest is dance-punk history.
The pair released a self-titled EP in 2009, got a seal of approval from alternative-dance goddess M.I.A. and released a true debut, “Treats,” last year to rave reviews.
Sleigh Bells’ heavy and distorted take on guitar pop truly is unique, and a slate of harsh but inviting singles, like “Rill Rill,” “Kids” and “Infinitiy Guitars” has created heavy demand for the Brooklyn band.
Krauss took time out an overloaded schedule — the Bells ring tonight at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa — to talk about a new album, being polarizing and the importance of becoming the perfect pep rally leader.
On summer plans:
“We are ending our tour at Bonnaroo, which we are really excited about. The only break we are taking from recording is to play Lollapalooza. We were going to go out to Europe and do the music festival thing, but we decided our top priority was getting in and working on our second album.”
On their monster year:
“The whole journey has really exceeded Derek and I’s expectations. We had a lot of confidence in our record, we were proud of it and thought it should be heard, but even with those hopes we never could have imagined that we would still be touring and that people would still be buying the record. We are at a good place to disappear for a while and release a new record. I think there’s a demand now, and hopefully that demand will still be there a few months from now. I’m really looking forward to see where we go.”
On the sound:
“A vision for Sleigh Bells is something that’s been happening for a really long time, something that was happening before I even met Derek. I think the pillars of that vision is to create music that combines both heavy and melodic elements, creating music that has a lot of influences from metal and punk, but also mixes a more saccharine, feminine presence in with it. Establishing a groove and a rhythm, then adding the guitars and more sweet vocal melodies — those are the core three elements.
“I like that people think it sounds different and that it’s polarizing. I’d rather people hear our music and go, ‘Oh, my god, what was that?’ and not know if they really liked it or not yet, but remember it, as opposed to hearing it and thinking it sounds like all the other music you’ve heard that day.”
On the live shows:
“I think we seek to create music that is very commanding, in that it’s bombastic, and we sort of want our shows to be a complete sensory overload. It’s not meant to be a passive experience. It’s meant to be a very active one, and I hope people come in with the intention of interacting with the sound because it’s a very social music. It’s not the kind you listen to sitting alone in your room at night. It’s very visceral and kind of demanding.
“I couldn’t have more fun performing. It demands that I meet the music in terms of energy and enthusiasm. As a performer, I try to meet the energy the music is providing and be as engaging as possible. Our shows are very fun and participatory, and won’t succeed with a passive audience. It falls flat. I become a pep rally leader of sorts. It’s as much about being a hype person as it is the technical aspects of singing.”
On the new record:
“This record is heavier, almost more fertile than ‘Treats,’ but the vocal arrangements are more melodic. It’s going to do a better job of combining what I think are our strengths. It’s about the ability to juxtapose the heavy and the melodic, and I think we are much better songwriters now. Everything’s going to be stronger, and the album is going to take ideas and flush them out better than ‘Treats’ did.” —Joshua Boydston