Sleeper (band)

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Sleeper
OriginLondon, England
GenresIndie rock, Britpop
Years active1992–1998, 2017–present
LabelsIndolent, Gorsky
MembersLouise Wener
Jon Stewart
Andy Maclure
Past membersDiid Osman
Chris Giammalvo
Dan Kaufmann
[1][2]

Sleeper are an English rock band formed in London in 1992. The group had eight UK Top 40 hit singles and three UK Top 10 albums during the 1990s.[3] Their music was also featured in the soundtrack of the pop cultural hit movie Trainspotting. The band split up in 1998 but reunited in 2017.

History[edit]

First three albums (1992–1998)[edit]

Jon Stewart met Louise Wener at Manchester University in 1987 in a political philosophy class.[4] They played in a number of bands at university including jazz outfit the Lime Street Blues Band, then, after graduating in 1988, they moved to London to seek gigs. Wener later wrote that "we sounded not unlike the Sundays, but as time went on our music became increasingly influenced by US bands such as Hole, Nirvana and, most especially, the Pixies".[5] They advertised for new band members in the Melody Maker ("Bass player and drummer wanted. Influences The Pixies and The Partridge Family") and recruited Diid Osman and Andy Maclure.[6] Wener solicited interest from record label representatives by sending out a fake NME review, a move she called "pure cheek and cut-and-paste fakery."[7]

At one point, the band called themselves Surrender Dorothy,[8] after the smoke trail in the sky from the Wizard of Oz movie, but abandoned this idea after discovering that several other bands had done the same thing. They subsequently chose the name 'Sleeper' after the Woody Allen movie, and because it has a number of different meanings (a spy, an unexpected hit, etc.).[9] After moving to Camden and receiving interest from record labels, Sleeper signed to Indolent Records, which was an "indie label" in marketing only, in 1993 and released three EPs and singles before their breakthrough single release, "Inbetweener",[10] which notably featured UK TV personality Dale Winton in the promo video. Prior to the release of "Inbetweener" Sleeper had been the opening band for Blur on their tour to promote the Parklife album, and they became closely associated with Britpop as a result.[11]

The band's debut album release Smart was certified gold by the BPI for sales of over 100,000 copies. It was followed by the platinum-selling (over 300,000 copies) release The It Girl which yielded four singles and airplay chart hits "What Do I Do Now?", "Nice Guy Eddie", "Sale of the Century" and "Statuesque".[12] Sleeper recorded a cover of the Blondie song "Atomic", which was used in the film Trainspotting, after Blondie refused to allow the use of the original version. "Statuesque" also features in the movie and its follow-up soundtrack volume. The band’s third album, Pleased to Meet You, was released to relatively lacklustre sales (although still a UK Top 10 hit and certified silver) and a public mood changed by the end of Britpop and its association with Cool Britannia, and the band split after a final headline tour around the UK.[1]

Post-split (1999–2010)[edit]

After Sleeper split, Wener and Maclure recorded material for a new project, aimed at a more mainstream market and featuring a guest appearance by George Michael. The project was never completed however, [13] and Wener went on to have a career as a novelist. She released her fourth book for Hodder & Stoughton in 2008. Wener also features prominently as an interviewee in John Dower's feature film documentary on Britpop, Live Forever (2003).

Stewart moved to Los Angeles, California where he played with West Coast band UFO Bro[1] and contributed as a session guitarist to k.d. lang's album Invincible Summer (2000) and Mel C's album Reason. After returning to the UK, he became a lecturer in music business and music history at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music (where he taught members of The Kooks, The Ordinary Boys, and Kate Walsh) and is a columnist for the Guitarist.[14]

Osman subsequently went on to become a session player with Parlophone records band Dubstar and later became an artist manager,with bands including Infectious Music outfit My Vitriol, Atlantic records' band The Glitterati and helped writer-producer, Justin Parker sign to Sony Music publishing. Maclure later ran a "Punk Rock Karaoke" enterprise with DJ Steve Lamacq.[15]

A greatest hits compilation, with track listing and artwork by the band themselves, was released on Sony/BMG in 2007. Their first two albums were reissued as deluxe versions on 29 November 2010, with second discs of B-sides and live tracks.

Reunion (2017–present)[edit]

By 2014, Wener and MacLure had formed another band, Huge Advance, although they only played in and around their residential suburb of Crouch End[16]

Sleeper reformed in 2017 to play in four British cities in July and August as part of the Star Shaped Festival alongside other Britpop acts including Space, Dodgy and The Bluetones.[17] They went on to headline an eleven-date tour of smaller venues in England in the spring of 2018.[18]

On 1 May 2018 Sleeper announced that they would be recording a new album for release in early 2019, and playing three UK concerts in November 2018.[19] Lead single "Look at You Now" premiered on BBC Radio 6 Music on 4 December 2018, while presenter Steve Lamacq announced the title of the new album was The Modern Age.[20]

Image[edit]

Frontwoman Louise Wener, along with Elastica's Justine Frischmann, was one of Britpop's biggest female stars, and became one of its enduring sex symbols, placing highly in Melody Maker and NME "Sexiest Woman" polls two years running. Wener enjoyed significant media coverage, including an NME front cover and a slot as guest presenter of Top of the Pops, and multiple appearances on TFI Friday. Billboard described how Wener's "forthright opinions on female sexuality, censorship, and other issues, have been manna for feature editors."[21]

The band was the inspiration for the phrase "Sleeperbloke", referring to the disparity between the glamorous singer Wener and the other frequently ignored members of the band (who tended to be far more anonymous and stood at the back). This pejorative term was used by music press journalists and musicians, to refer to any person of limited standing within a band or an especially drab and unremarkable individual. The "Sleeperblokes" themselves were reported to be highly amused by the phrase, and even produced an ironic "Sleeperbloke" T-shirt to go with Wener's "Another Female Fronted Band" T-shirt, both of which sold well.[22]

Members[edit]

Current

  • Louise Wener – vocals, rhythm guitar (1993–1998, 2017–present)
  • Jon Stewart – lead guitar (1993–1998, 2017–present)
  • Andy Maclure – drums (1993–1998, 2017–present)
  • Kieron Pepper – bass guitar (2017–present)

Past

  • Diid Osman – bass guitar (1993–1997)
  • Chris Giammalvo – bass guitar (1997)
  • Dan Kaufmann – bass guitar (1997–1998)

Discography[edit]

Sleeper discography
Studio albums4
Compilation albums2
EPs1
Singles11

Studio albums[edit]

List of studio albums, with selected chart positions
Title Details Peak chart
positions
Certifications
(sales threshold)
UK[23]
Smart 5
The It Girl
  • Released: 6 May 1996
  • Label: Indolent (74321 36477)
  • Format: CD, CS, DL, LP
5
Pleased to Meet You
  • Released: 13 October 1997
  • Label: Indolent (SLEEP 016)
  • Format: CD, CS, DL, LP
7
The Modern Age
  • Released: 22 March 2019
  • Label: Gorsky
  • Format: CD, DL, LP, CS
18

Compilation albums[edit]

List of compilation albums
Title Details
Greatest Hits
  • Released: 2007
  • Label: Sony BMG (88697106042)
  • Format: CD, DL
Inbetweener – The Best of Sleeper
  • Released: 19 February 2016
  • Label: Master Club Deluxe (MCDLX216)
  • Format: CD, DL

Singles[edit]

Title Year Peak chart
positions
Album
UK[23]
Alice EP 1993 Smart
Bucket & Spade 1994
"Swallow" 1994 76
"Delicious" 75
"Inbetweener" 1995 16
"Vegas" 33
"What Do I Do Now?" 14 The It Girl
"Sale of the Century" 1996 10
"Nice Guy Eddie" 10
"Statuesque" 17
"She's a Good Girl" 1997 28 Pleased to Meet You
"Romeo Me" 39
"Look at You Now" 2018 The Modern Age
"The Sun Also Rises" 2019

Other appearances[edit]

Year Song Release
1995 "Pyrotechnician (I Think I Love You)" (demo) Sharks Patrol These Waters: The Best of Volume, Pt. II
"Bedside Manners" (Live at London Astoria) Home Truths
"Disco Duncan" (Peel Session) ...Hold On (BBC Radio 1FM Sessions)
1996 "Atomic" Trainspotting: Music from the Motion Picture
"Sale of the Century" (Live at BBC Sound City) Radio One Sound City Leeds 1996

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "The Big Sleep for Sleeper". NME. 30 November 1998. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  2. ^ MC Strong (2016). "Sleeper". The Great Rock Bible.
  3. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 507. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  4. ^ Stratton, Jon (15 April 2016). Britpop and the English Music Tradition. Routledge. ISBN 9781317171225.
  5. ^ Wener, Louise (6 July 2002). "My life as a pop star". The Guardian.
  6. ^ Austin, William (1997). Sleeper: Burn All The Negatives (1st ed.). London: Chameleon Books. pp. 12–24. ISBN 0-233-99160-3.
  7. ^ Wener, Louise (2011). Just for One Day: Adventures in Britpop. UK: Random House. pp. 141–142. ISBN 9780091936525.
  8. ^ (Firm), Rough Guides (2003). The Rough Guide to Rock. Rough Guides. ISBN 9781858284576.
  9. ^ Austin 1997, p. 12
  10. ^ Austin 1997, pp. 37–42
  11. ^ Austin 1997, p. 33
  12. ^ Austin 1997, p. 59
  13. ^ Just for One Day: Adventures in Britpop. Random House. 31 July 2012. ISBN 978-1-44-640792-9 pages 306-307
  14. ^ "Jon Stewart". bimm.co.uk. British and Irish Modern Music Institute. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  15. ^ Youngs, Ian (17 August 2005). "Britpop - Where are they now?". BBC News. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  16. ^ "Britpop stars: Where are they now?". Virgin Media. 2009. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  17. ^ "Sleeper To Play First Gig In 19 Years At Star Shaped Festival 2017". Radio X. 15 February 2017.
  18. ^ "Sleeper kick off national tour in Liverpool next spring". Getintothis. 31 October 2017. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  19. ^ Trendell, Andrew (1 May 2018). "Sleeper are back with a UK tour and their first new album in 21 years". NME. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  20. ^ Murray, Robin (5 December 2018). "Sleeper Share New Single 'Look At You Now'". Retrieved 5 December 2018.
  21. ^ Sexton, Paul (11 February 1995). "Arista's Sleeper Awakens Interest: U.K. Group Seen as "International Band"". Billboard. 107 (6). p. 10 – via Google Books.
  22. ^ Austin 1997, p. 43
  23. ^ a b "Sleeper | full Official Chart history". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  24. ^ a b c "British certificates: searchable database". BPI. Retrieved 30 June 2010.

External links[edit]