Hard Rocker, Soft Heart: Oh, Sleeper Frontman Talks Upcoming Album, Children's Book

Frontman of Oh, Sleeper

Oh, Sleeper was quiet for a little while, when the Fort Worth metal band took a short hiatus after seven years touring the globe. During the three-year break, frontman Micah Kinard dabbled in all sorts of things — even spent a brief stint as a Realtor — but realized nothing quite brought the same rush as screaming into a microphone for a rowdy audience.

So, Oh, Sleeper reawakened. The band signed back on with Solid State Records last year and plans to release a new album, BLOODIED/UNBOWED, this summer. Even with the band back together, Kinard’s still dabbling — he’s collaborating with local artist Sandy Jones to write and illustrate a children’s picture book, which Kinard hopes to publish by the end of the year.

But he’s most looking forward to getting back on the road — and this time, being a little more hardcore.

Q. What was your first encounter with hardcore music, and what made you want to pursue it?

A. My first experience with live rock ’n’ roll was hilariously unimpressive. I was probably, like, between 7 and 10. My parents took me to the Petra concert at Six Flags. I cried and asked my mom to take me out because it was too loud.

My first metal show, where I decided I wanted to be a singer, was a Dillinger Escape Plan show. Immediately, the curtains open up, and it’s just mass chaos. People are crowd surfing by. The singer is grabbing people by the backs of their shirts and screaming in their faces and throwing them back. That was the second I was like, “Oh my gosh. I want to be that guy.”

Q. Not everyone knows how to screamo. How did you find your voice?

A. Remember that Underoath album, They’re Only Chasing Safety? The very first song, he’s like, “So let’s not even try.” I would just sing along. Every time it would go into scream, I would just try. I kept on swinging for the rafters. I remember one time, I was in traffic, and I did that opening line. It was, “So let’s not even …” and I did it. I felt it. It didn’t hurt. It was just there.

Q. Oh, Sleeper took a break for about three years before releasing any new music. What did you learn during that time?

A. We ran the tour grind from ’06 all the way up to about 2013. [In] 2013, we had left our label, we fulfilled our contract and we were gearing up to release our first independent EP. We did that, then immediately went on Warped Tour. It was wild because that was what we had always dreamed of, [but] we were at the most-numb, most-jaded point in our career. I don’t think we were really happy with each other. We weren’t happy with ourselves. We were jaded at the entire genre.

After Warped Tour, we pretty much hung up the hat. When we did that, everyone went different ways. I hopped around from job to job, thinking that this one would fill the void — my most recent endeavor was real estate; I did that for two years — but none of them did. The reality was, after we had been a part of something that was so personal and important to so many people, everything else was gray in comparison. I had to have it in my life again.

Q. We know you’re a metalhead, but what’s the most surprising thing on your playlist?

A. I have five Christmas albums downloaded to my phone. I don’t listen to it the whole year, but sometimes I need my fix.

Q. Besides Oh, Sleeper, you’re also venturing into something completely new for you: children’s books. Tell us about that.

A. The idea came together on a late-night drive. I remember I was in the front seat; I just started writing this story about this little robot. He thinks he’s a broken robot until he realizes that his whole purpose was to be a helper bot. I want to inspire people. Just like how I want my music to uplift people and be a fight song for their every day, I want to take that into kids’ books.

Q. Any other projects going on?

A. My best friend [and Oh, Sleeper guitarist], Shane Blay, and I are working on a country-folk project. It’s cool because folk really allows you to do storytelling. It’s kind of like the leap to children’s books, like stepping into this new genre. It just blows off the walls that you put around your creativity. You start exploring new paths, and we’re having a blast with it.

Q. Your wife, Jenna, is a pretty big deal in Fort Worth too [she was recently tapped to become the executive chef at Hotel Drover in the Stockyards]. How fun is it to be married to a chef?

A. Oh, it’s amazing. It’s funny — everyone’s always like, so you’re just eating the craziest stuff all the time? I’m like, no, because she chefs for a job. When she gets home, she doesn’t want to cook. We eat a lot of pizza and a lot of Uber Eats.

Q. What are you most excited about this year?

A. I’m most excited about getting back on the road and not being jaded. I left a lot at those shows, I feel like, where I didn’t really care about going out to the merch table and talking to people. And, there were some shows where I didn’t give my all when I was up there. I see 2019 as a chance to go back and make all that right and to really pour into every single show and every person I meet.

And, I’m so curious about the whole children’s book thing. I’ve got no expectations; it’s totally just a fun project. But, you know, who knows what’ll happen?