Riot Fest 2017 brings Sleep On It home to play

Riot Fest, probably your last stab at live music under the summer sun, rolls into Chicago’s Douglas Park this weekend with some of the biggest names in music.

Nine Inch Nails headlines for the industrial set Friday, Queens of the Stone Age rocks the spotlight Saturday, and Sunday features the just-reunited punk legends Jawbreaker.

True to form, the lineup brings bands from far and wide, covering many genres fest-goers are craving, from the dance-pop of New Order to the Wu Tang Clan’s hip-hop, Minus the Bear’s indie rock set and the much-beloved The Menzingers.

And do yourself a favor: Get up as close as you can for the outrageously theatrical American gypsy punk funk rock from Gogol Bordello.

The area music scene earned some hot nods on this year’s lineup, including The Lawrence Arms, The Orwells, Ministry, Vic Mensa, Turnspit, Knuckle Puck, Real Friends and Sleep On It, which features members from Wheaton and Worth.

The local pop-punk band — Zech Pluister, Teddy Horansky, Jake Marquis, AJ Khah and Luka Fischman — is hitting the Riot Fest stage for a third time.

We had a chance to chat with Horansky, who plays guitars and hits the mic for some of the band’s vocals, about their past with Riot Fest and what’s coming up in the future.

Q. I’ve read that Riot Fest played a part in the formation of Sleep On It. How did this all come together?

A. I met our other guitarist Jake Marquis while we were both street teaming for Alternative Press at Riot Fest 2012. He had already been jamming with our drummer Luka and original vocalist John Cass for a couple months. At Riot Fest that year, we bonded over a mutual love of Brand New and Yellowcard. I joined shortly after Riot that year. Playing Riot Fest immediately became a major goal for us.

Q. This is your third Riot Fest, right? How does that feel knowing you’ve been invited back? What’s your approach to this year as opposed to, say, your first time?

A. It’s incredibly humbling that we’ve been invited back to Riot for a third time. Riot Fest is so ingrained in the Chicago scene. The festival is so highly respected; being invited back feels like a badge of honor. I just hope we can live up to that. I don’t think our approach has changed too much since the first year. We just want to put on a fun show and sound as tight as possible.

Q. Do you have anything new or different you’re planning on rolling out for RF?

A. We will be playing our new single “Distant” from our upcoming first full-length record, “Overexposed.” We’re playing mostly songs from our EP “Lost Along the Way.” The plan is to not butcher those songs too bad.

Q. Have you shared the stage with any of the other Riot Fest bands before? Who are you most excited to play with this year?

A. We’re currently on tour with State Champs on the “Road to Riot Fest Tour,” so it will be fun to watch them at Riot. Our former tourmates Grayscale and Four Year Strong are both playing Friday as well. We’re excited to watch Paramore, Taking Back Sunday, The Menzingers, our friends in Like Pacific, Action Bronson and Mayday Parade. I’m personally excited to catch Dinosaur Jr., Built To Spill and The Hotelier.

The band Sleep On It — Teddy Horansky, left, Jake Marquis, Luka Fischman, AJ Khah and Zech Pluister, front — is taking the stage for the third time at this year’s Riot Fest. – Courtesy of Vince Desantiago

Q. You guys have been out touring a lot this year. What’s been your favorite show on the road? Any crazy experiences?

A. Chicago shows are always bonkers because that’s our home turf, but Boston shows are always some of the best on tour. Our show last spring with As It Is at Brighton Music Hall was a show that really stuck out to me. A ton of kids were singing all the words and going wild. We’ve also popped a few trailer tires, but thankfully nothing too crazy.

Q. Let’s step back to your songwriting process: Where do your ideas come from? How does the magic happen?

A. I often get inspired by other art, whether it be movies, television or other albums. Zech and I were talking about “Dead Poets Society” a lot while we were writing the new record. I have a “notes” section on my phone where I jot down song or lyric ideas whenever they pop into my head. If I don’t capture that immediately, I will probably lose it. I generally will demo an idea then bring it to the band. The magic happens when we are all jamming as a band and discussing how we want that particular song to go. The finished product is very collaborative, which I think has helped us hone our own sound.

Q. Where do you go from here? What are the next steps for Sleep On It?

A. We are currently on tour with State Champs, Homesafe and Bearings until the end of September. Our first full-length record, “Overexposed,” will be out Nov. 3 via Equal Vision Records. We are also touring through November and December with Waterparks, As It Is and Chapel. Next year will consist of more touring and, after that, probably even more touring.

Note: Sleep On It plays the Radicals Stage at Riot Fest at 1:50 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15. They also play a sold-out after-show at Bottom Lounge Sunday, Sept. 17, and will be coming back for a House of Blues show Wednesday, Nov. 22. Get a taste of “Distant,” the first single off their first full-length release at

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Riot Fest

When: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Sept. 15-17

Where: Douglas Park, 1401 S. Sacramento Drive, Chicago

Tickets: Single-day passes start at $79.98; two-day combo passes are $149.98; three-day passes are $198.98; VIP packages are available at

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