Electric Sheep (band)
|Associated acts||Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave, Tool|
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Electric Sheep was a garage rock band founded in the early 1980s that found no success but featured members who went on to major fame: Adam Jones (future Tool guitarist) and Tom Morello (future Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave guitarist). The band has the distinction of having two members that made the Rolling Stone list of the 100 greatest guitarists of rock history, alongside bands like The Byrds, The Allman Brothers Band, The Yardbirds, MC5, Sonic Youth, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, The Stills-Young Band and Radiohead.
Jones and Morello played in the band as students at Libertyville High School in Libertyville, Illinois. Jones played bass while Morello played guitar. Other members of the band included Chris George (lead vocals), Randy Cotton (keyboards) and Ward "Yardstick" Wilson (drums).
The band formed in the 1980-81 school year, initially as a joke. (At early performances, the band had no instruments.) As time went on, however, the band evolved into a credible garage band (sometimes literally—one of the band's best-attended concerts was held in Morello's garage). The band was not well known, even within the school, but it did have an enthusiastic following among a limited circle.
Morello then described the band as a "punk" band, though at the time heavy metal was his major musical influence, and George always cited Mick Jagger as his main role model. Their best-known songs, which often had an element of dark humor, included "Rat Race," "She Eats Razors" and "Oh Jackie O." "Salvador Death Squad Blues," written by Morello, foreshadowed his later politically charged music.
The band's name was apparently not inspired by Philip K. Dick's 1968 novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. (The book would attain greater pop-cultural prominence in 1982 with the release of the film adaptation Blade Runner.) Morello makes no apologies for the name: "In a world of bands called Limp Bizkit and Hoobastank, Electric Sheep rolls off the tongue like a Shakespearean love sonnet," he told one interviewer.
The only recording released in any formal way by the band is a cover of Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild," included on a record based on Libertyville High School's 1982 talent show called All Shook Up. With George away at college, the recording features Geoff Johnson on vocals.
The band also provided the theme song for the video Season of the Snow Bitch, a horror movie parody written by and starring Morello and George. Jones supervised the no-budget video's gore effects, a role that foreshadowed his special effects work in Hollywood and his later direction of Tool videos.
"The Electric Sheep Video" was a documentary featuring interviews with band members, admirers and critics interspersed with concert footage from "The Electric Sheep Farewell Tour of the Americas," a 1983 event that was held in the Mundelein Cinema in Mundelein, Illinois.
One of the band's last recordings was a jam with extemporized lyrics titled "Platypus"—an experiment that inspired the Yuletide Jam, an annual Libertyville tradition in the 1990s.
There was an Electric Sheep reunion of sorts in 1993, when both Rage and Tool were part of the Lollapalooza tour. Babes in Toyland, featuring fellow Libertyvillian Maureen Herman, also joined that year's travelling rock festival. Another brief union occurred in 2007 when Morello joined Tool on the stage at the band's Bonnaroo performance .
The Toronto-based band Nice Cat recorded a cover version of Electric Sheep's "Rat Race" in 2005.
Puscifer, a band led by Tool's vocalist Maynard James Keenan, recorded a cover version of "My Country Boner" (AKA: "Cuntry Boner") in 2007. "Cuntry Boner" (Evil Joe Barresi Mix), Written by Tom Morello and Chris George. Published by Wixen Music Publishing, Inc./Nightwatchman Music (BMI) and Copyright Control/Chris George
- Guitar World, June 1994 (excerpt); interview with Adam Jones and Tom Morello about Electric Sheep
- Metal Sludge: Rage Against the Machine & Tool Exposed! (includes a photo of Electric Sheep)