With an expanding fan base, a loaded schedule stocked with tour dates, and a growing reputation for energetic live performances, Sneezy is the archetypal band-on-the-rise. The backstory of the Chicago seven-piece, however, is nothing standard. Helmed by best friends since first grade Brett O’Connor (lead vocals) and Jack Holland (acoustic guitar, backing vocals), the expansive lineup centers around the camaraderie of two lifelong friends whose music forms the bedrock of their bond. Today, Sneezy adds to its growing catalog with the release of a three-song EP, Flower Child.

With a deep roster of musicians including bass, drums, lead guitar, alto saxophone, and keyboards, the group provides a landscape view of its sprawling sound with the expertly mastered Flower Child, recorded at Asheville’s Echo Mountain Recording by veteran producer and local legend Josh Blake. While there are certainly a lot of voices to include in the group, O’Connor said that there’s always room for everyone onstage, in the studio, and in the spotlight.

“We’ve always looked at music as ‘everyone is a star,’” O’Connor told Live For Live Music. “I personally don’t even like when people say that I’m the frontman, or that I’m the center of the band, ’cause it’s not how we view it. … Everyone is a star. Everyone is just as important.”

The band recently lost one of its stars with the sudden passing of baritone saxophonist Patrick Girdaukas last month. As the band began ramping up touring post-COVID, Sneezy brought in Destiny Pivonka on sax to tour with them in light of the aversion Patrick—a schoolteacher by day—had to the road. These recordings showcase a rare instance of both Patrick and Destiny playing together in harmony, perhaps most notably on the EP’s title track.

“We thought it was fitting to commemorate Pat in this way because these are really the only songs that are recorded with both [him and Destiny] on it,” O’Connor said.

Sneezy – “Flower Child” [Official Video]

But there is also joy found throughout Flower Child. Kicking off with Austin Lutter‘s sunny electric guitar intro to “Chump Change”, the song wafts through the all-consuming feelings of finding a new romantic infatuation as hearts soar alongside Patrick and Destiny’s horns. Those feelings cool off a bit on the title track, with Brett playing it mellow atop a laid-back funk groove supplied by the band’s tight rhythm section of Thomas Hannum (bass) and Austin Koziol (drums) before Juan Luchini sends it into orbit with astral synthesizers. Rounding out the EP is the infectious earworm “Golden Goose” which confronts its own catchiness with the hook, “If the lines to this song get stuck in your head.”

In addition to the group’s penchant for writing songs that capture the many shapes modern love takes, the theme of maturing also runs throughout Sneezy’s music. Given Brett and Jack’s lifelong musical relationship, which started in a band called The Hound Dogs at a first-grade talent show, the two have had the unique experience of growing up alongside their music. As the group has grown—emotionally, stylistically, and in terms of personnel—those reflections have formed a catalog that is something akin to a personal journal, but one for the whole world to hear.

“Music has been such an outlet for being a better person and finding happiness in life when things get hard,” O’Connor reflected. “And also a source of purpose and happiness in the face of anything. When we all went to get corporate jobs for a little bit, we all realized that we were more financially secure, way more financially secure, and we were able to live the life that most of our peers are living, but it wasn’t feeding our souls.”

Something that brought on that maturity is the band’s recent commitment to touring. Sneezy has already logged appearances at Resonate Suwannee, the final ResonanceThe Ramble FestivalRooster Walk, and more, with bigger dates on the horizon including the band’s debut at Hulaween.

“I think what’s matured us mostly is getting out on the road and playing in front of people, meeting new musicians, and becoming more secure with our identity as musicians who can do this full time,” O’Connor said. “I look back and I realize that we are better today than we were yesterday, and it’s just because we’re committing to it.”

Listen to that commitment shine through on Sneezy’s new Flower Child EP and check the band’s website for a full list of upcoming tour dates.

Sneezy – Flower Child