Interview with Robert Cosgrove – Lead Vocalist of Sleep Signals!

Founded in 2014, Minneapolis, MN-based rockers Sleep Signals have garnered a dedicated following through relentless touring, their explosive live performances, and their ability to blend catchy hooks with their high-energy songwriting style. Since hitting the road in early 2015, the band has played more than 175 shows in over twenty-five states, building a solid fan base across the country.

2017 continues to be a huge year for Sleep Signals, which started with the release of their new single, “I’ll Save You”, along with an accompanying music video that was premiered by Vevo. The single was produced by Grammy-nominated producer, Justin Rimer (Saving Abel, 12 Stones).

The band followed up the single returning to the studio with Justin Rimer to finish up their new album, “At the End of the World”, which dropped 9/7/17, and features guest appearances from Marty Mccoy of Bobaflex and Josh Brown of Full Devil Jacket.

Sleep Signals have also shared the stage with bands like Seether, In Flames, Saving Abel, Bobaflex, Ill Nino, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Every Time I Die, Alesana, Volumes, Capture the Crown, The Browning, Letters from the Fire, and 3 Pill Morning, and have performed at festivals including Northern Invasion, SXSW, and Texas Rock Fest.

We’d like to bring to your attention this interview with Robert Cosgrove – lead vocalist of Sleep Signals! The following interview is taken exclusively for Rock Arena. Enjoy it!


Hello, Robert and welcome to Rock Arena! How are you feeling today? Sleep Signals was formed in 2014, how everything started… Can you tell us a bit about the band, how did you all meet?

♦Robert Cosgrove: Doing great, we just wrapped up a long tour and we’re home with our families for about a month before we head back out on the road! Yep, the band started back in 2014 and we started touring in early 2015. All of us met through various other musicians and mutual friends in the music scene.

We have put out three albums over the past three years and we’ve been pretty focused on touring and building markets outside of our home area during that time.

– What are your main influences and how did you start with music? Your first concert ever?

♦Robert Cosgrove: We pull from a lot of influences all over the board. I think you can hear a lot of influence in our music from bands like Rise Against, A Wilhelm Scream, and older Avenged Sevenfold. I personally came from more of a hardcore/metalcore background and really grew into music during the early 2000’s.

I’ve always had a soft-spot for the bands that were coming out of Orange County around 2000, like Eighteen Visions, Bleeding Through, and Atreyu, so you can definitely hear that in my writing. I was also heavily influenced, especially on guitar, by the “Gothenburg Sound” bands in the late 90s and early 2000s, like At the Gates, In Flames, and Dark Tranquility. My first major concert was in 2000 in St Paul, MN. I grew up a HUGE Metallica fan as a kid, so my mom took me to see them just before my 15th birthday.

– What is your musical past? Have you had any previous projects, and what was their style?

♦Robert Cosgrove: I came from playing hardcore/metalcore stuff prior to this. I was in a band called Solidarity until 2008 and stepped away from music for a while to go back to school and do real-life chores haha. That band was more like a Comeback Kid or Stick To Your Guns. Prior to that, I was in a metalcore band called The Dead Romance for about two and a half years. That band was more along the lines of Darkest Hour, Bleeding Through, etc.

– Let’s talk about your new single, “I’ll Save You”… Is there any special meaning behind the name? Tell us about the work behind the scenes and the story of the script?

♦Robert Cosgrove: “I’ll Save You” is a couple singles ago actually, but it’s one of our favorites off of the new album (We put it out early before the album dropped). The title and the entire song, for that matter, are basically just a metaphor for something we all deal with in our lives. It’s about going through a tough situation and recognizing who you would want in your corner when things look their worst.

The lyrics are loosely based around a book/movie called “The Road”. There is a line in the song where we reference “carry the fire” which is a nod to that book/film as well.

We thought the apocalyptic concept was a great metaphor for what the song is about. When your world is ending, who do you want to have your back? That translated really well to the video we released for the song as well, and ultimately, we named the entire album after it (At the End of the World).

– How do you write your songs as a band and what are your sources of ideas? What are subjects that you write about?

♦Robert Cosgrove: Typically most of the writing is done by Tyler and myself. We develop song candidates that we bring in to our producer and as a group, we all determine which candidates would make the best songs, and then everyone else puts their own writing touch on their own parts.

There isn’t really a limit to our sources for ideas. We get ideas from daily life, books, movies, other music… We pull ideas from anything. It sounds really strange, but several of our songs started with me humming a couple chorus lines in the shower.

I’ll get out and quickly hum the melody into my phone and Tyler and I will develop it into a song. The chorus hooks for “I’ll Save You”, “Edge of My Sanity”, and “Drive” all started that way in fact. We write about several different subjects, but we typically try to keep a positive or fun vibe on most of our stuff. Even when we’re writing about something negative or dark, we try to put a positive spin on it. We like to write music that makes people feel good.

– New album “At the End of the World” is out now, how the recording went and what meaning have you coded between the lines? Who’s the producer?

♦Robert Cosgrove: Yep, the new album dropped on 9/7! Recording this album was a great experience. We all grew as musicians and people during the writing and recording process. We went down to Memphis, Tennessee to record with Justin Rimer (Saving Abel, 12 Stones) at Crosstrax Studios. Justin was great to work with and really helped us develop the songs we chose for the record.

We had about 40 song candidates going in and we had to narrow it down to the 6 songs that made the EP. It was a difficult process and there are a couple other songs we really wish we could have included, but we’ll have to wait until our next release for those! Every song on the album is a little bit different and they all say something different, so it’s difficult, to sum up what we’re trying to say with the album as a whole. It certainly wasn’t a concept album, but there are a few songs that kind of fall along the lines of looking at ourselves, recognizing our shortcomings, and trying to better ourselves, our peers, and our society. The song “Drive” doesn’t fit that message at all though, it’s just a fun song haha!

– How does the professional production reinforce the band’s sound and how much does that factor add to the wanted final creation? Would you be your own producer one day?

♦Robert Cosgrove: Professional production is always a huge part of the finished product. We live in a day and age of technology where pretty much anyone can go into their basement and record an album, but I don’t think you can really match the quality that you get from going into a legitimate studio with a solid producer and engineer. Having a good producer on an album makes a world of difference, too.

It always helps take a song to a new level when you have a good producer in the room helping you develop the songs more. We’re pretty heavily involved with the production already as it is, but I don’t know that we’d necessarily try to produce our own album. Maybe someday down the line, but we like the system we have now!

– Tell us about your other noble cause… The band has set up a pre-order through Pledge Music where all (100%) proceeds from pre-orders through this campaign will be donated to Keep A Breast Foundation… What’s your personal reason to help people in need of physical, spiritual and financial support?

♦Robert Cosgrove: Yeah, we set up a pre-order campaign through Pledge Music where we intend to donate all the proceeds from the pre-orders through the campaign to Keep A Breast Foundation. The campaign was under-funded, so we’re throwing around some other ideas to try to raise some more money for the foundation in addition to the small amount we were able to raise with the campaign.

This is an important cause for us because everyone in the band has either lost someone to cancer or has a family member fighting with cancer right now. Keep A Breast Foundation is heavily involved with music and does a lot of great things with raising awareness for breast cancer with young people, so we really want to be part of it.

– What are you fighting for with your music?

♦Robert Cosgrove: We just enjoy writing music that makes people feel good. We like to write music that makes people think and feel.

A lot of our lyrical content is intentionally left open to interpretation because we feel like everyone can relate to a song on a different level and what a song means to us might be very different than what a song means to someone else.

– What do you listen to today? Do you have new ideas and intentions of experimenting with other genres in music? Or in art in general?

♦Robert Cosgrove: I think the most popular bands in my playlist right now are probably A Wilhelm Scream, Deftones, Thrice, The Gaslight Anthem/The Horrible Crowes, and Brand New. I’ve experimented with some acoustic stuff in the past and I know Tyler has done a lot of that kind of stuff as well. My artistic ability kind of ends with music/acting and some minor graphic design. Otherwise, I can’t “art” haha!

– In the past year-and-a-half, Sleep Signals has performed more than 125 shows in 25 different states, what has been your most memorable touring experience so far and who were your favorite acts to open for?

♦Robert Cosgrove: Touring is so hectic that it all kind of blurs together, but it’s always fun and memorable. It’s the experience of being out on the road, playing in a different city every night, and meeting a bunch of new friends everywhere we go that always stands out ahead of any one or two specific memorable moments.

Northern Invasion was probably one of our favorites as far as opening for other acts. We opened up for some bands like Soundgarden and Bush that we’ve always looked up to since we were kids. We recently opened up for Seether and that was a great experience playing in front of an amazing crowd.

– What more can fans expect from the band in the nearest future new videos, festivals, live performances? 

♦Robert Cosgrove: We just dropped a new single called “Drive”. It features Marty Mccoy from Bobaflex and we dropped a video for the song the same day. We just wrapped up The Autumn Rebellion Tour with our friends The Scars Heal in Time from Houston, TX, and we’ll be back out on the road again for all of November into the first half of December with our friends Elisium. We’re hoping to make it over to Europe soon, but we’re still covering a lot of ground over the in the US. It’s definitely on our radar though!

– Thanks for taking the time out to do this interview! Your message to all the Rock & Metal heads around the globe…?

♦Robert Cosgrove: Keep supporting your local bands, venues, and promoters, and GO TO SHOWS! We live in the era of constant distraction and it hurts our music scenes. If you make it out to one of our shows, come say hi and introduce yourself! We want to get to know you!


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Interviewed by Toni Rock