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Breaking Out: Sleeper Agent

Unrepentantly rude and rocking six-piece finds its footing thanks to underage go-getter.

picture-18276-1372868632Chris Martins // July 18, 2011

The story behind Sleeper Agent’s raucous single “Get It Daddy” says a lot about the Kentucky rowdies. Singer-guitarist Tony “Tutone” Smith, 24, explains: “A friend of ours was having, um, intercourse with this ?really attractive girl he’d just met, when she yelled, ‘Get it, daddy!’ It weirded him out so bad he had ?to stop.” Turning an in-joke into a raunchy sing-along is just one of the band’s myriad charms.

Smith and drummer Justin “Keyser” Wilson, 24, founded Sleeper Agent in 2008 as a way to earn bar money in their native Bowling Green. “It’s a ?college town without much to do, so people show up no matter who’s ?playing,” says Smith. Meanwhile, his eventual female foil, Alex “Kidd” ?Kandel, was testing out her powerful pipes on Adele covers at local coffee shops. But the 18-year-old was raised on Nirvana and always wanted to be in a rock band, so when Smith started asking around town about new members, she jumped.

“They kept their distance when they realized I was 15, but I pestered them till they let me in,” says Kandel. They soon added bassist Lee “Grizzlee” Williams, 19, keyboardist Scott “Saga” Gardner, 22, and guitarist Josh “Junior” Martin, 26, and began to pick up regional buzz for their wild shows, which showcased a mix of high ?volume Southern-rock stomp and ?pogo-inducing exuberance. Local ?heroes Cage the Elephant invited them on the road this spring and also hooked them up with their producer, Jay Joyce. “Now all my friends are having graduation parties,” Kandel says, “and I’m leaving for a tour with my new family.”

You can hear that camaraderie in the band’s debut album, Celabrasion (Mom + Pop), a dozen deliriously catchy gems recorded while the members lived together in a ramshackle house on the edge of town — it’s the sound of high fives and ?Maker’s Mark spilling from the speakers. But Smith chalks up their happy rowdiness to another influence, too. “It’s the South,” he says. “It’s like an accent. You can deny it’s there and say you’re going to speak properly, but your drawl is always gonna come out.” Ain’t nothing wrong with that.

WATCH: Sleeper Agent, “Get It Daddy”
Read the entire August 2011 issue of SPIN, available now for iPad.