Sleigh Bells Bring the Noise on Spring Tour

On the bus with the shred-meets-bubblegum duo. Plus: New LP?

Derek E. Miller, Alexis Krauss and Jason Boyer of Sleigh Bells perform at St. Andrew's Hall in Detroit.
Paul Warner/WireImage
May 4, 2012 11:00 AM ET

"Hey, D.C., who wants to dance with me?" Sleigh Bells singer Alexis Krauss screamed midway through the Brooklyn noise-pop duo's sold-out show at Washington's 9:30 Club on March 27th. The crowd of 1,200 howled in response as she launched into their hyperactive 2010 cut "Kids," climbing atop a riser and whiplashing her jet-black locks to guitarist-producer Derek Miller's hammering rhythms.

"We always feel like we're playing a team sport," Miller says earlier that afternoon, hanging on their tour bus before the show. "I do a ton of push-ups before we go out. We get really hyped. Afterward, it takes a while to come down."

"It's not something we take for granted," adds Krauss. "Honestly, that's what gets us through touring – your whole day is leading up to the 50 minutes that you're onstage."

Joined by touring guitarist Jason Boyer, Krauss and Miller tore through most of the sugar-rush cuts from their debut LP, Treats, plus the gnarliest selections from this year's heavier follow-up, Reign of Terror, during the tight, hourlong set. The crowd's energy stayed sky-high the entire time – right up to the encore, when Krauss dove offstage to crowd-surf as she sang Treats' Funkadelic-sampling summer breeze "Rill Rill."

It was the second night of Sleigh Bells' 26-city spring tour of North America, and the party was just getting started. "Last night, we were crossing back into the U.S. from Canada at two in the morning, and the border agents came on the bus," Krauss recalls with a mischievous grin. "I'm thinking what it must have looked like to them – all of us sitting here, wasted, giggling." Adds Miller, "I felt like Mom and Dad had come on the bus. 'Throw the beer bottles away!'"

But that was pretty low-level trouble by Sleigh Bells' standards: In February, while on a brief warm-up run through Miller's native Florida, the guitarist cracked two ribs in an ill-timed stage dive during their good friend and tourmate Diplo's DJ set. "Everyone was on Ecstasy and didn't even notice me," Miller says. "I went straight to the ground. I played the next night, though – just a grip of Advil and a bunch of whiskey, and they pushed me out there."

As of last month, Sleigh Bells is opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers on a string of East Coast arena dates. They scored the gig after Flea stopped by a show at New York's Webster Hall last spring to extend a personal invite. "He was, like, 'I'm Flea,' and I was, like, 'Yeah, I know!'" says Miller. "There was no reason to say no. What, out of fear? We're not afraid of that shit. Let's do it." Adds Krauss, "When you're on stages that big, sometimes it's hard."

And the duo has already started to map out their third LP for a potential 2013 release – Miller says to expect brighter moods and fewer monsters-of-rock riffs. "The second we get off tour, we'll go into the studio, because there's nowhere else I'd rather be," says Miller. "We work relentlessly on new stuff. That's what keeps me alive."

This story is from the April 26th, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Hungry Like the Wolf”

Duran Duran | 1982

This indulgent New Romantic group generated their first U.S. hit with the help of what was at the time new technology. "Simon [Le Bon] and I, I think, had been out the night before and had this terrible hangover," said keyboardist Nick Rhodes. "For some reason we were feeling guilty about it and decided to go and do some work." Rhodes started playing with his Jupiter-8 synth, and then "Simon had an idea for a lyric, and by lunchtime when everyone else turned up, we pretty much had the song." The Simmons drumbeat was equally important to the sound of "Hungry Like the Wolf," as Duran Duran drummer Roger Taylor stated it "kind of defined the drum sound for the Eighties."

More Song Stories entries »