Sleep - Biography



San Jose's Stoner Rock legends Sleep evolved in the early 90's from the Crust Punk band Asbestos Death which was established by Cisneros, Hakius and guitarist Tom Choi. Asbestos Death expanded to a quartet with the introduction of Matt Pike on guitar and recorded 2 singles - 'Dejection' for Profane Existence and the DIY-released 'Unclean'. Choi departed, and would later found Operator Generator. Meantime Asbestos Death recruited Justin Marler as replacement and switched the name to Sleep. Sleep debuted with 1991's 'Volume One' album, recorded for small San Francisco Indie label Tupelo, who had earlier hit paydirt by picking up the rights to Nirvana's 'Bleach' in Europe. The record showcased the bands penchant for fuzzed out lysergic-influenced dirges, with little in the way of the Sabbath worship which would soon follow. Marler subsequently quit the band to take up the Monastic life, leaving the band as a power trio.

Earache received the bands next recordings in the mail as a demo.Recorded with Billy Anderson handling the production duties at Razors Edge studios in SF, the tape showcased Sleep's love of all things retro, from the blatant Black Sabbath/Blue Cheer fug-fueled riffage, to their fixation with old style 70's Orange amplification. The label - impressed by their singlemindedness and unique vision - immediately signed the band and released the tape exactly as it was received- record store shelves worldwide stocked the "Sleeps Holy Mountain" Album from March 1993 onwards.Around this time Earache released the very first Black Sabbath Tribute album also, and naturally Sleep contributed, with their own rendition of "Snowblind" being one of the highlights. Ozzy himself was impressed, saying Sleep were the closest band he'd heard to Sabbaths original 70's style and feeling. Praise indeed.

More adulation followed after a debut European tour with label mates and fellow Sabbath-worshippers Cathedral, and a touring stint with Nik Turners Hawkwind in the USA further cemented Sleeps place as leaders in the newly- monikered 'Stoner Rock' scene that was beginning to attract fans and press coverage alike.

Earache announced plans for a follow up album, releasing the title 'Dopesmoker' to the press, but the band's new heavyweight management team preferred to take the major label route, and the band duly signed with London Records , with Earache's blessing, after a substantial payoff. Initially scheduled for a 1995 release date, the debut album for the major took the form of one mammoth 52 minute long leviathan of a track, comprising feedback and one distorted fuzzed-out doomy riff. Entilted 'Jerusalem', London baulked at the prospect of promoting what probably still is the most extreme music ever recorded for a major label, so shelved the recording and dropped the band. SLEEP disbanded soon after as a result, but the unreleased Jerusalem recordings gathered legendary status among the Stoner Rock cognescenti.

Although much bootlegged over the years, eventually Lee Dorrian's Rise Above label secured the official rights to the "Jerusalem" album in 1999 for a UK release, with the USA release handled by former Earache USA man Eric Lemasters' newly formed label, The Music Cartel.

Pike set about formulating a fresh act, emerging with HIGH ON FIRE in 1999 and issuing a three track eponymous EP followed by the 'Art Of Self Defense' album in 2000. Marler, no longer residing in the monastry, would surface with Hakius with a non-doom project entitled THE SABIANS. This band, including guitarist Patrick Huerta and bass player Rachel Fisher, put out the 'Empty Your Heart' demo before releasing the 'Beauty For Ashes' album produced by FUDGE TUNNEL man Alex Newport.

Chris Hakius and Al Cisneros are now involved in a doom project called Om.