Do Birds Sing?

Minneapolis band Sleeping In The Aviary continues to build a career based upon disregarding whatever they’ve done before.

Sleeping In The Aviary

Jason Kopp

Sleeping In The Aviary

by Andrew Penkalski


The boys of Sleeping In The Aviary, one of the most raucous and fuzzed-out rock bands in Minneapolis, clearly create better amidst some madness.

 Three of the members take up residence in a ramshackle duplex âÄî one filled with ripped furniture, second-hand decorations and worn instruments. Frontman Elliott Kozel and Bassist Phil Mahlstadt wear clothing that indulges the more physically hideous of past trends, the former in a brown leisure suit and the latter in a velvet-lettered t-shirt. For better or for worse, this devil-may-care abode suits them.

Like the more crude attributes of their Thursday afternoon garb, Kozel heads up a band that drags the most corporeally unnerving words across the most buoyant blaring, and often sunny rock melodies.

âÄúWe just try not to be too focused in general I guess,âÄù Kozel said. âÄúWe just try to have fun.âÄù

The enjoyment goal must be getting satisfied. Sleeping In The Aviary has been together since 2003, a seven-year span that has come with its share of lineup changes.

âÄúWe add new people, and thatâÄôs more exciting,âÄù Kozel said. âÄúYouâÄôre not stuck in a band with the same four [expletive] again.âÄù

Whether it stems from personnel changes, Sleeping In The AviaryâÄôs refinement across albums, or perhaps evolution, is a large part of their allure.

The groupâÄôs 2008 demo-quality LP âÄúExpensive Vomit in a Cheap Hotel âÄú offered a blast of lo-fi, lover-scorned tracks resting somewhere between punk and folk. On their upcoming album, âÄúGreat Vacation !,âÄù the group is playing a bit more in that west coast, surf-rock sunshine. Kozel along with the string section sounds a bit more reserved throughout allowing the electric guitar reverberations and backing harmonies to occupy the space. And boy, does this record sound confident.

âÄúI think thatâÄôs what makes it more refined, too, because we just keep making different things,âÄù lead guitarist Kyle Sobczak said.

In conversation, these broad interests show. Steering the dialogue toward topics such as Science of Sound Records, their Madison, Wisconsin-based label, only resiliently keeps the members entrapped in more intriguing talking points such as RaffiâÄôs childrenâÄôs music or Billy JoelâÄôs furniture polish-drinking days.

âÄúWe all have different interests,âÄù Kozel said. âÄúIndie rock isnâÄôt the only thing in the world.âÄù

As is the case for Bob DylanâÄôs documented disinterest with any press conference, there remains something a bit perplexing about a band that crafts such wonderful records but has so little to say about them.

It also makes a bit of sense. Accurate descriptors are hard for a third party to place on this group. With a bit of everything but nothing like anyone else, Sleeping In The Aviary may be a hard band to talk about. Thankfully, they are one of the best bands in the Twin Cities to listen to.