Sleepytime Gorilla Museum

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Sleepytime Gorilla Museum
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum.jpg
Performing live in 2003
Background information
Origin Oakland, California, United States
Genres Experimental rock, avant-garde metal, progressive rock, progressive metal[1]
Years active 1999–present
Labels The End Records
Associated acts 2 Foot Yard
Charming Hostess
Cosa Brava
Faun Fables
Free Salamander Exhibit
Idiot Flesh
Immersion Composition Society
inkBoat
MOE!KESTRA!
Mute Socialite
Skeleton Key
Species Being
The Book of Knots
Thin Pillow
Thinking Plague
Tin Hat
Vacuum Tree Head
Website Official website
Members Matthias Bossi
Nils Frykdahl
Carla Kihlstedt
Michael Iago Mellender
Dan Rathbun
Past members Frank Grau
David Shamrock
Moe! Staiano

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum (often abbreviated to SGM) is an American experimental rock band, formed in 1999 in Oakland, California. The band fuses classical, industrial, and art-rock themes throughout their music. They are known to perform elaborate routines on stage and discuss possibly fictitious stories of dada artists and mathematicians.[citation needed]

History[edit]

After the disbanding of Idiot Flesh, Dan Rathbun and Nils Frykdahl joined with Charming Hostess member Carla Kihlstedt (of which Rathbun and Frykdahl were also members) to form Sleepytime Gorilla Museum with Moe! Staiano and David Shamrock. Their first performance, on June 22, 1999, was to a single banana slug (Ariolimax dolichophallus).[2] The following night's performance was their first to a human audience.

Some time during the recording of Grand Opening and Closing (2001), drummer David Shamrock left the band and was replaced with Frank Grau. Grau also co-released the album, instigated their first tour and managed the band.

During the recording of the follow-up, Of Natural History (2004), Grau left the band and was replaced with a new drummer, Matthias Bossi, formerly of Skeleton Key. The Of Natural History tour saw Moe! Staiano's exit, and new multi-instrumentalist Michael Iago Mellender's entrance. In January 2006 Sleepytime Gorilla Museum signed to The End Records who re-released their début Grand Opening and Closing with three bonus tracks.

Soon after, an announcement was made that a new album was in the works and had a tentative date of March 2007. During early 2007, the title and track list for their third studio album, In Glorious Times was announced with the release date set for May 29, 2007. Prior to the release, an mp3 and music video of "Helpless Corpses Enactment" were made available online.

In February 2011, the band announced that they will play three final shows in California. They also intend to release a final album, a short film, and a live DVD.[3]

In 2013, Matthias Bossi and Mike Patton, Scott Amendola and William Winant performed a live score for the 1924 silent film Waxworks,[4] with the performance said to be filmed.[5]

Nils Frykdahl, Dan Rathbun, Michael Iago Mellender, and David Shamrock, along with Drew Wheeler, formed a new band called Free Salamander Exhibit in 2013.[6]

In a July 2014 press release for Rabbit Rabbit Radio, Carla Kihlstedt announced that a new track featuring almost all members of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, including Michael Mellender who "penned the architecture of this one," will be released in August 2014.[7] The track, titled "The Perfect Abomination" was released on YouTube on July 31, 2014 and featured Kihlstedt and Bossi (of Rabbit Rabbit Radio, to whom the song is credited) with Michael Mellender and Dan Rathbun performing guitar and bass, respectively.[8]

Name[edit]

According to their extensive liner notes for Grand Opening and Closing, their official history and repeated in interviews, the name "Sleepytime Gorilla Museum" comes from a small group of Dadaists, Futurists, and artists named the Sleepytime Gorilla Press who owned and operated what they called a "museum of the future" which was "anti-artifact, non-historical and closed."[9]

The "museum" opened on June 22, 1916 (the same date as the bands' first concert, 83 years later). The exhibit was a fire which caused wide chaos and confusion. The following day the museum was closed (hence the name of the first album). The name itself apparently comes from a poem called "Of the Future Hides the Past," written by Museum members Lala Rolo and Ikk Ygg.[9]

The only source of information on the internet regarding the Sleepytime Gorilla Press, Lala Rolo, and Ikk Ygg arises from the band's interviews.

Style[edit]

Performance[edit]

Their live performances have featured puppet shows, pseudo-scientific scholarly presentations, and performances by members of the Butoh group inkBoat.

The band uses many homemade devices as instruments, such as the Viking Rowboat.[2] Dan Rathbun — who has created most of the band's idiosyncratic instruments — plays, among other custom-made instruments (though he uses a common bass guitar most of the time), a custom-stringed bass instrument referred to as the Sledgehammer Dulcimer (or, alternately, the Slide Piano Log), which uses piano strings and is possibly more than 7 feet long; it is played with two sticks: one in the left hand generally used as a fret, and another in the right hand to strike the strings.

Percussionist Michael Iago Mellender's instruments consist of restaurant kitchen equipment, trash can lids, and other "found" metal objects, in addition to traditional percussion instruments. One of the more infamous instruments used by the band was Moe! Staiano's Popping Turtle (now residing in Brooklyn, NY[10]). It can be heard about 1:21 into the song "Sleep is Wrong".

Categorization[edit]

SGM's music can be likened to experimental rock or avant-garde metal; however, as inherent to the music, the band attempts to escape any categorization. Some influences include Henry Cow, Swans, Einstürzende Neubauten, King Crimson, Mayhem, Bauhaus, The Art Bears, Igor Stravinsky, Thinking Plague, and Univers Zéro.[11] In a review for SGM's second album Of Natural History, David Moore of Pitchfork Media states that SGM's debut album Grand Opening and Closing was an amalgam of Meshuggah and Secret Chiefs 3, resulting in "some truly cracked prog-metal anthems."[12]

Legacy[edit]

Tony Levin, formerly of King Crimson and Peter Gabriel stated that he is a "huge fan of" Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and chose the track "Sleep is Wrong", which he calls "very, very powerful" as one of the pieces which most influenced his current project, Stick Men. Levin also credited Sleepytime Gorilla Museum as doing "things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," specifically their "radical" and "organic" shifts in tempo.[13]

Members[edit]

Some of the instruments are custom instruments built by the band.

Carla Kihlstedt

Michael Iago Mellender

Dan Rathbun

Former members[edit]

Discography[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]