Enter a world where every sound is more than just an orchestrated coincidence. A place where chords are sparsely strung amidst meandering dreamscapes, and programmed drums and effects flirt with the melancholy of live musicians. Indulge in a panorama of uninhibited musical freedom, a murky depth of crystalline thoughts and muddled expressions. Embark to a realm where the journey is vastly more fulfilling than the destination, and once you arrive, you want nothing more than to turn back and rediscover every nuance of the voyage that got you there... Submit to Team Sleep.
What started as a couple of friends trading tapes in 1994 has since turned into a full-fledged band in 2005. With their self-titled debut album set for release on May 10 2005, through Maverick Recordings, TEAM SLEEP are prepared to finally unleash their project to the anticipation of both fans and critics alike.
The artistic evolution of guitarist Todd Wilkinson and Deftones frontman Chino Moreno,
Team Sleep began as little more than an open-ended exercise in musical possibility between two friends. It was just fun, they didn't think anything of it. It was as natural as hanging out, watching a game and putting down some party bets, going to the movies or a summer barbeque. It didn't even cost much. “We paid like $30 each and bought a four-track together—I think it was stolen,” recalls Moreno. “We'd each have it for a couple of weeks, and we'd make tapes and exchange them.” The process started in 1994, a year before the Deftones released their first album, Adrenaline.
A few tapes later, another friend was added to the mix, Crook, who began contributing turntables and programmed drums to the tiered guitars. As Moreno started adding the occasional vocal to the mix, the rough mixes began to transform into songs
“We were never going to make a record, or start a band,” adds Wilkinson, “I was just sitting at home, playing guitar, and I started recording some stuff. It was never about trying to play shows, record in a studio, or anything of that sort. It was just bumming around. I had never been in a band, and I never wanted to be—we were just friends.”
After years of messing around with a four-track recorder, friends Chino Moreno (the founder and frontman of the critically acclaimed band, DEFTONES) and Todd Wilkinson got serious about what would become TEAM SLEEP. After recruiting DJ Crook, whom they'd met through a mutual friend, the threesome started recording and trading tapes they made while Chino and Todd were living in Sacramento and DJ Crook was still living in Los Angeles. In 2001, Maverick (home to the DEFTONES) heard the early demo-tapes and signed the group. After adding Drummer Zach Hill and Bass Player, Rick Verrett, the final Team was complete.
While five years may seem like a long time before an eventual debut album, the band has definitely been keeping active in between releasing Deftones albums and working on other projects.
It wasn't until the year 2000 that an album was even discussed. And it took even a year longer than that for the name Team Sleep to come to fruition. In May 2001, the trio went to Seattle to record with Terry Date, and left with 12 instrumental tracks—With the exception of one track
(and an additional interlude) featuring Deftones drummer Abe Cunningham, any drums were programmed by Crook. A month later, Wilkinson and Hella drummer Zach Hill began recording demos together, adding another component to the trio's expanding scope. In September of that same year, three more songs were recorded, this time with vocals by Helium frontwoman
In late 2001, TEAM SLEEP embarked on an 11-date tour up and down the west coast. The original release, which was set to drop in 2001, was pushed back after unfinished tracks from the record were leaked to the internet and Power 106 in Los Angeles immediately began to play Mercedes on the radio. Although this was a slight set back, the band continued to write together, eventually developing new original material.
But before Moreno, Wilkinson or Crook—the creative core of Team Sleep—could finish sculpting their work in progress, incomplete recordings from their Terry Date sessions leaked onto the Internet, and—eager to promote anything from the Deftones frontman—radio stations began spinning the unofficial recordings. “Some people liked it, but some Deftones fans obviously didn't think it was hard enough for their tastes,” says Moreno of the material, which he admits,
is not intended to sound anything like his fulltime band. “I was just really bummed that it was incomplete. I never wanted this to be something that had to be released, and it isn't that—
it's something that I'm doing for fun. Even if I wasn't in the Deftones, I'd probably still be doing music with Todd, and this is that music. It's just something that we have fun doing, and that's why we do it—not because I need to say, ‘Hey, look at what else I can do...' That's why I was so bummed when it was leaked. It would have been cool to have people hear it when it was finished. That really discouraged me, so I stopped for a while and went to work on the Deftones self-titled album.”
In April 2003, Team Sleep re-recorded two tracks with producer Ross Robinson, and a month later, the soundtrack to The Matrix: Reloaded featured their first official single, “The Passportal.” With Moreno and the Deftones on the road through the remainder of 2003, Wilkinson, Crook and Hill recorded six new songs with producer Greg Wells. Work on what would become their self-titled, Maverick Records debut continued through 2004, Moreno switching hats from the more heavy-handed Deftones, to the wistful, trance-like ambience of Team Sleep.
“Deftones are known for a certain amount of chunky guitars and me being aggressive vocally, and in Team Sleep, I don't need to worry about any of that,” says Moreno. “In Deftones, there are guidelines that we stay in because of the fanbase that we've built—with this, I'm freer. And, I'm working with different people, and everybody works differently. With Team Sleep, I don't think about guidelines, I just do what I feel.”
The results are pure and unassuming, as liberating to the listener as they are to the band that created them. Opening track “Matterhorn” lumbers forward as if cutting through a dense fog, Moreno's vocals slicing through the mix like a searchlight through the sweeping expanse,
while “Foreign Flag” opts for an airy, surrendering calm. “Blvd. Knights” is one of the self-titled release's heaviest moments, but even at its rapturous heights, embellishes on a warmer,
fuzzier tone than Deftones fans are accustomed to. Timony's feminine front sends shivers tingling down the electro-pulsed spine of “Paris Arm,” injects a haunting, melancholic timber to the
Edgar Allen Poe-inspired “Liegea,” and “King Diamond” straps into a techno-throttled overdrive that reverberates long after the song is done. If not for Moreno's distant vocals, the sultry backbeat of “Arctic Region” could be ready for a dance remix, and without any vocals at all,
“Year Of The King” swings from a frenetically-paced display of Crooks turntable talents, to a swell of guitars that wouldn't be far from home in The Wall.
It's one thing to read about the sounds of Team Sleep, but it's another thing to truly surrender to the splendor of their art, reveling in the bounty of every creek, corner and crevice exposed through repeated listens. With their debut, Team Sleep lead us on uncharted passage to the center of their musical soul.
The best part about it is having completion of something you ve been working on, and having it done right, according to frontman, Chino: "It's fun, working with different people, everybody works differently. When I have time off from music, I want to make other music That's what I do, that's what s fun, that's what makes me happy."
TEAM SLEEP is: Chino Moreno (vocals, guitar), Todd Wilkinson (guitar), DJ Crook (Turntables, drum programming), Zach Hill (drums) and Rick Verrett (bass).