Heavy , Crushing, Lyrically conceptual and Running neck and neck with Motorhead for The Loudest band ever, SLEEP are not a band they are an Entity.
I saw them inadvertently in Columbus, Ohio’s “Staches “on campus. A tiny bar when they were on tour in 1994 with Nik Turner’s Hawkwind. We arrived about 5 mins before their set and had no idea the Massive onslaught that was about to happen 7 feet away from where we stood.
The projection behind the band started, Nasa footage of space travel and then Guitarist Matt Pike let loose the most brutal Guitar Drone and Drummer Chris Hakius built the tension for Bassist/Vocalist Al Cisneros to Take us to true liftoff. “Look into the Rays of the New Stoner Sun Rising….” announced this band was not lacking lyrical foundation.
It was SABBATH on Steroids, Psychedelic but not Pink Floyd. I truly had nothing to compare them too. Sleep was a Tornado that stayed in place for a bit over 30 mins. They were Playing material from their second record “Holy Mountain” and bits and pieces of what eventually became the Legendary Opus “Dopesmoker”.
I foolishly leaned in to speak to Al…extending my arm for a handshake and said “You are incredible and it’s great to have something to get excited about again”. It was then I realized that he wasn’t speaking back and I was put on notice by his eyes and the drool coming from the side of his mouth that he was Tripping his face off and I probably looked like any number of characters in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”. There’s no discussion in that situation.
Sleep – Dragonaut [Official Video]
Green Meta amps, Rickenbacker Bass and a Les Paul were the sound of the Monster in the room and Pike was a flurry of Dreadlocks. The Drummer at times would wait until the very last millisecond to hit the timing of a cymbal that is was like watching Bruce Lee in Slow Motion. Mesmerizing.
Sleep – Carrboro 23/01/1994
After the show was done I lost track of the band as the internet was not an option at that time for me to know anything. The Band Toured Europe and elsewhere and at some point the London record label signed them and quickly were confused by the “DopeSmoker” Project . They refused to release it and it lay in the Vaults while lawsuits and arguments ensued. It was edited and released at some point later as “Jerusalem” an Official Bootleg by the Band, Later that year was released properly by The Music Cartel in the US and Rise Above Records in Europe..
The struggles of all this caused the band to break up and they became two other successful acts. Matt Pike went on to form “High on Fire” and Al and Chris formed the duo “Om”
In 2003 “Dopesmoker” got it’s Due credit being released in its original form by Tee Pee
Sleep (The Dopesmoker Story)
The single projects “The Clarity” came prior and “Leagues Beneath” shortly thereafter. I was chomping at the bit for the announcement of Tour dates in 2018. Ecstatically we got them and During the time I was working with Maya Calvert , My Partner in Crime Matt Moon, Maya and I were all three able to see this Gift of a tour. I Had Tickets for Detroit, Cleveland and Columbus but due to scheduling we ate the Detroit show but caught them at The Agora and The Columbus Athenaeum.
SLEEP, Cleveland Agora April 1st 2018 dopesmoker / Holy Mountain
SLEEP fans are a bit like RUSH and Grateful Dead fans. You can run into the same people and talk about the show the night before In any given city. Those 2 nights were also a testimony that the Merch is highly sought after. I looked both nights and realized the lines were so long to pick up a shirt or a poster meant you had a choice. You could A. See the show or B. Stand in line the whole show and possibly find out they sold out of every item you were there to purchase. We chose the Show, and rightly so.
SLEEP has a very successful relationship with Third man Records and some very cool releases hit now and then. Who knows what the future holds, and I think that’s the intrigue keeping die hard fans on the edge of our seat. If you haven’t seen them Live I can’t recommend it enough . Fair Warning to the new, your ears will ring for a day or two after but if you love Heavy Doom and Trance like music, you will also be grinning for days and talking about it for years.