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Local residents rockin in new band
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A new band gaining momentum in Cookeville has most of its members from Warren County. Sleep Nation is an up-and-coming group that is building popularity.
The three-member band consists of Micah Rowland, 22, a McMinnville resident who currently attends Tennessee Tech; Justin Swingler, 25, originally from Texas and 2011 Tennessee Tech graduate; and Bran Merritt, 25, originally from McMinnville, who is also a TTU graduate.
Origins of the band began in 2005 when Swingler put a bulletin on a social network site looking for a guitarist and bass guitarist to start a punk rock band. Merritt replied. A four-member, punk rock band emerged.
Band members soon split, with Swingler and Merritt deciding punk rock was not the style of music they desired.
However, in 2007 Swingler contacted Merritt to find out if the guitarist was still playing. Swingler quickly jumped on the opportunity and said, “Let’s get together and see what happens.”
A second band was created with four members. Two band members left in 2008, which left Merritt and Swingler. A friend mentioned Rowland as a possible bass player. After a one-show gig, Rowland was hooked and Sleep Nation was created.
“I knew the music that was coming from these two was something I wanted to be a part of,” Rowland said.
The name of the band was chosen out of discussions regarding the United States being asleep instead of standing up and aiding in the search for solutions for the world’s problems. Merritt says, “Our nation is asleep to all of the happenings in our world. We don’t do anything.”
Band influences range from The Who to Blink 182, Led Zepplin to Nine-Inch-Nails, Switchfoot to Angels and Airways. They create their own sound and songs but also cover widely different styles of music.
Each performance begins with a prayer before taking the stage. The excitement then begins, says MTSU student Haley Nelms.
“There is a passion with their music that a lot of artists today lose,” she said. “They don’t have to tell you about their passion. You can absolutely see it every time they collide with their instruments. These guys are so talented. It’s incredible to watch how they put a song together.”
Nelms was so impressed by the band and their performance she wrote an article that was later published in a Cookeville newspaper.
The band is different and members know it.
“You won’t hear curse words or some new love ballad come from this group,” said Swingler.
Merritt added, “We wanted different topics people weren’t talking about. We wanted things we were passionate about.”
Sleep Nation is working on a full-length record. For more information on the band, visit
Haley Nelms contributed to this report.