Sleep (band)

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Origin San Jose, California, USA
Genres Doom metal, stoner metal
Years active 1990–1998, 2009–present
Labels London Records
Very Small Records
Earache Records
Southern Lord Records
Tee Pee Records
The Music Cartel
Associated acts Om
High on Fire
The Sabians
Members Al Cisneros
Matt Pike
Jason Roeder
Past members Chris Hakius
Justin Marler

Sleep is a stoner doom metal band from San Jose, California. Active during the 1990s, Sleep earned critical and record label attention early in their career. Critic Eduardo Rivadavia describes them as "perhaps the ultimate stoner rock band"[1] and notes they exerted a strong influence on heavy metal in the 1990s. However, conflict with their record company had contributed to Sleep's breakup by the end of the decade. The band reformed in 2009, and have played sporadic live dates internationally since.


Early years[edit]

Sleep evolved in the early 1990s from the band Asbestosdeath, which was established by vocalist/bassist Al Cisneros, drummer Chris Hakius, and guitarist Tom Choi. Asbestosdeath expanded to a quartet with the introduction of Matt Pike on guitar, and recorded two singles - "Dejection" for Profane Existence and the self released "Unclean". Choi departed, and would later found Operator Generator, It Is I, Noothgrush, and Las Vegas' Black Jetts. Asbestosdeath recruited Justin Marler as replacement and the band adopted the new name, Sleep.

Recording era[edit]

Their debut album Volume One was released in 1991. Frequently compared to bands like Saint Vitus, Sleep soon gained a devoted fanbase within the developing doom metal scene. Marler quit the band soon after to take up life as a monk, leaving the band as a power trio for the recording of their Volume Two EP, which was released officially by Off The Disk Records in 1991.

The band's next album was sent to the independent label, Earache, as a demo. Recorded at Razors Edge studios in San Francisco, with Billy Anderson, Chris Savino handling production, the tape showcased Sleep's love of all things retro, from the blatant Black Sabbath/Blue Cheer influences, to their fixation with 1970's-style tube amplification. The label immediately signed the band and released the tape exactly as it was received.

Sleep's Holy Mountain (1992) is widely considered a seminal album in the evolution of stoner metal. The album's release was followed by a potentially lucrative offer from London Records, and Sleep signed with them. Around this time, Earache released its first Black Sabbath Tribute album, and Sleep contributed a cover of "Snowblind".

Under their new contract, they began work on their third album, Dopesmoker, in 1995. Much to the dismay of executives at London records, Dopesmoker was a single song more than one hour long. London Records declared the album unmarketable and refused to release it. Sleep returned to the studio and then submitted their second attempt at the new album. They had retitled it Jerusalem, re-written some of the lyrics and trimmed it down to a "lean" 52 minutes, but it was essentially the same as Dopesmoker. London Records again refused to release it. Frustrated and generally unhappy with the situation, the members of Sleep decided to disband.

After Sleep[edit]

In 1998, Sleep and their former manager granted approval to Tony Presedo, head of Tee Pee Records and friend of the band, for the release of Jerusalem posthumously as an "official bootleg". One year later, Jerusalem was given an official legitimate release by The Music Cartel in the US and Rise Above Records in Europe.

Finally, in 2003 the original version of Dopesmoker was officially released by Tee Pee Records. It is generally considered the definitive version of the album. An excerpted version can be heard on Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers original soundtrack.

Matt Pike is now the frontman of his band High on Fire.

Cisneros and Hakius later formed the experimental rock band Om while Pike formed heavy metal band High on Fire.

In 2007 a CD compilation of both 7" releases of the pre-Sleep band, Asbestosdeath, was released on Southern Lord Records.


In May 2009, Sleep reformed to perform two exclusive reunion sets in England as part of the All Tomorrow's Parties music festival. In the shows the band performed for the first time a song that had previously been intended for inclusion on, and wrote during the Dopesmoker recording sessions and widely unheard entitled 'Antarcticans Thawed'.

On November 19, 2009 Al Cisneros confirmed in an interview with The Obelisk that Sleep will be reuniting in the fall of 2010 for some US dates. It has also been confirmed that Jason Roeder (of experimental metal band Neurosis) will replace Chris Hakius on drums.[2]

The group played the ATP New York 2010 music festival in Monticello, New York where they performed Holy Mountain in its entirety. They followed up this performance with a tour of the rest of the United States, playing headlining dates and festivals, through September.

During 2011, Sleep were confirmed as an act for the 2012 annual music festival, San Miguel Primavera Sound, taking place in Barcelona over late May and early June.

On April 14, 2012, Sleep headlined the 17th annual Roadburn Festival. A band statement for which reads “Sleep are honored to attend the Symposium of Iommic Research, Tilburg at Roadburn”.

On May 5, 2012, Sleep played at Betong in Oslo, Norway. Supported by A Storm of Light, and Conan.

In May 2012 the band played a concert in Tavastia, in Helsinki before they support Slayer at the All Tomorrow's Parties 'I'll Be Your Mirror' festival at Alexandra Palace, London. [3]

On June 2nd, 2012, Sleep played a headlining set in the Scion Rock Fest in Tampa, FL. This was a free festival put on by the alternative (albeit Toyota-funded) music and art label, Scion AV. Other acts included Down, Psychic TV, Sick of It All, Merzbow, and more. Matt Pike's birthday was celebrated on stage at the conclusion of the set, with cake.

On March 8, 2013, Sleep took part in the 35 Denton Music Festival, in Denton Texas, headlining the Friday Main Stage and supported by Brutal Juice.

On May 26th, 2013, they performed at Maryland Deathfest XI in Baltimore, Maryland on the final night of the festival.

On September 7th, Sleep played at the Hopscotch Music Festival in Raleigh, North Carolina. They played an excerpt from Dopesmoker and several other classics from Vol.1 and Holy Mountain.

On January 3 and 4, 2014, Sleep performed headlining shows at the Gothic Theater in Englewood, Colorado and the Sunshine Theater In Albuquerque, New Mexico. Al Cisneros also announced in an interview that the band are working on a new record.[4]


Current lineup[edit]

Former members[edit]



Year Title Label
1991 Volume One Tupelo Records
1992 Volume Two Off the Disk Records
1992 Holy Mountain Earache Records
1999 Jerusalem The Music Cartel / Rise Above Records
2003 Dopesmoker Tee Pee Records / Southern Lord Records

Compilation album appearances[edit]

  • "Numb" on Sign Language 3x7" (1991 Allied Recordings)
  • "The Suffering" on Very Small World LP (1991 Very Small Records)
  • "Snowblind" on Masters of Misery CD (1997 Earache Records)
  • "Aquarian" on Burn One Up (Music for Stoners) CD (1997 Roadrunner Records)
  • "Some Grass" and "Dragonaut" on Gummo Soundtrack CD (1998 DominoRecording Company)
  • "Dragonaut" on Stoned Revolution - The Ultimate Trip CD/2LP (1998 Drunken Maria Records)
  • "Dopesmoker" on Broken Flowers Music from the Film Soundtrack CD (2005 Decca Records)
  • "Druid" on Worldwide Metal CD (2008 Earache Records)


External links[edit]