Marler in Orthodox garb.
|Birth Name||Justin Marler|
|Alias||Monk John Marler|
|Born||July 29, 1972|
|Occupation||Musician; Orthodox Monk; Pastor|
|Genres||Doom metal, Sludge Metal, Hard Rock, Alternative Rock, Power Pop, Punk Rock, Gospel|
|Years active||1990 - 1991, 1999 - 2004, 2010 - Present|
|Associated acts||Sleep, The Sabians, Shiny Empire, Quick and The Dead|
Justin Marler is a musician originating from Chico, California, notably one of the founding members of seminal stoner metal band Sleep. He played in the band from 1990 - 1991 before becoming an Orthodox monk for many years.
Biography[edit | edit source]
Sleep (1990 - 1991)[edit | edit source]
Marler was born in Chico, California in what he described as "white trash". Through his teens he got heavily into punk rock, elicited a straight-edge vegan lifestyle and played in a handful of unknown garage bands before moving to the bay area, befriending three kids from that area and coining the namesake of this new group: Sleep. Sleep began in late 1990 and performed throughout 1991, the quartet releasing Volume One in the process. However the nihilistic nature of Sleep's early material, along with life in the Bay Area, weighed heavily on Marler as he'd state in an interview with My Stateman:
|“||“I was cutting myself with razor blades and having some pretty significant depression issues and it was leading into, I think, mental illness really. I would walk the streets of Oakland and I would be slobbering on myself and screaming. I was just losing my mind.
[On leaving Sleep] “It was a matter of life or death, “I was intent on trying to kill myself, or find some purpose.”
— Justin Marler, My Statesmen 
By the end of 1991 Marler had left Sleep with a visit to Israel before being led back to California that same year. He would join an Eastern Orthodox monastery in a moment to which he recalled: “I lost a lot of friends because I was a punk who did the opposite of what a punk should do, which is embrace organized religion.”.
Life as an Orthodox Monk and The Sabians[edit | edit source]
Marler turned up at St. Herman of Alaska Monastery in northern California and later was transferred to a monastery on a nearly deserted island in Alaska. Matt Pike stated he was on Kodiak Island "living with the fucking bears". During his seven-year stint as a monk he founded the widely distributed Zine titled Death To The World (Also known as Death To The World: The Last True Rebellion. The first issue was printed in December 1994 featuring a monk holding a skull on cover. The hand-drawn bold letters across the top read “DEATH TO THE WORLD, The Last True Rebellion” and the back cover held the caption: “they hated me without a cause.” ... The first issue, decorated with ancient icons and lives of martyrs inside, was advertised in Maximum RocknRoll and brought letters from all around the world. Twelve issues were made in all throughout the original run. Death To The World gained mainstream press and had an impact as inspired by the youth counterculture of the 1990s. In 1995, Marler released a solo album via Catacomb Records entitled Lamentations.
By sometime in 1999, Marler would return to California and get back in touch with Chris Hakius, leading to the formation of The Sabians, whose sound identify more with hard rock with slight hints of stoner rock than stoner metal or doom metal. The Sabians were active between 1999 and 2004, releasing two albums (Beauty For Ashes in 2001 and Shiver in 2003) via The Music Cartel. In a 2004 interview with Utter Trash, Marler would speak of the band's formation and their mindset:
|“||“[On returning to California] I wanted to apply the things I’d learned to a real life instead of being secluded on an Island. And I wanted to play music, too.
[On the band's lyrics] What I learned in the monastery isn’t about making someone believe what I believe. It’s really about being a centered person. Most people can identify with human plight and internal struggle. Most of the songs are coming from my point of view and what I’m going through. They’re not telling people what they should do or feel. It’s more like find yourself.” The same holds true for political subject matter. Although Justin is not without his opinions on the state of the world, he says, “Monks are all about peace and living a simple life and showing compassion for others. Politicians are doing their thing and I don’t feel it’s my job to go out and stop them.”
— Justin Marler, Utter Trash via Wayback Machine 
Relocating to Austin, Texas: Shiny Empire & Quick and The Dead[edit | edit source]
In 2005, Marler would move to Austin, Texas and become relatively inactive from music while raising a family. In 2010 he would form an indie rock group known as Shiny Empire, whom largely played around the Austin area up until 2014. Marler he met bass player Scott Phillips, formerly of The Heavy Pets and Kudzu Towers. After a year long search for a drummer they came across John McCollum and added keyboard player Gil Craig in 2011. For live performances they enlist the help of session trumpet player Vincent Valdez to complete the sound. Shiny Empire's style of music is punk informed power pop. The group released one album in their tenure known as Sophia vs World (2011).
In 2014, Marler formed a Christian pop-punk group known as Quick and The Dead. Quick and the Dead released their first album Hymns For the Apocalypse on 26 November 2015.
Personal Life[edit | edit source]
Despite his short tenure in Sleep, Marler still maintains a friendship with all of the members of the group to this day, with Al Cisneros stating that they talk more of religion and spirituality than music in a 2015 interview.
Marler currently resides in Austin, Texas with his wife Nova and five children, one of which from his first marriage. He remains active in various monasteries in south Austin.
Bands[edit | edit source]
- Sleep - Guitar, Vocals (1990 - 1991)
- Monk John Marler - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals (1995)
- The Sabians - Guitar, Vocals (1999 - 2004)
- Shiny Empire - Guitar, Vocals (2010 - 2014)
- Quick And The Dead - Guitar, Vocals (2014 - Present)
Discography[edit | edit source]
With Sleep[edit | edit source]
- Volume One (1991, Tupelo Recording Company)
With The Sabians[edit | edit source]
Misc. Releases[edit | edit source]
- Monk John Marler - Lamentations (1995, Catacomb Records)
- Shiny Empire - Sophia Vs. World (2011, Self-Released)
- Quick and The Dead - Quick and The Dead (2015)
External Links[edit | edit source]
- The Unbroken Circle
- Written Piece on Death To The World
- Wikipedia page on Death To The World
- Shiny Empire on Twitter
- Written piece on Shiny Empire
- Archived Shiny Empire Page
- Archived Shiny Empire Video
References[edit | edit source]
|Current Members||Al Cisneros • Matt Pike • Jason Roeder|
|Past Members||Chris Hakius • Justin Marler|
|Albums||Volume One • Sleep's Holy Mountain • Jerusalem • Dopesmoker • The Sciences|
|Live Albums||Sleep Live at Third Man Records|
|Extended Plays & Singles||Volume Two • The Clarity • Leagues Beneath|
|Associated Bands and Artists||Asbestosdeath • Dejection, Unclean • Om • High on Fire • Neurosis • Kalas • The Sabians • Shrinebuilder • Denver Colorado 09.05.10 • Billy Anderson • Arik Roper • David V. D'andrea|
|V·T·E The Sabians|
|Members||Chris Hakius • Justin Marler • Patrick Huerta • Rachel Huerta|
|Studio Albums||Beauty For Ashes • Shiver|
|Associated Bands and Artists||Sleep • Om • Shrinebuilder • Asbestosdeath • The Music Cartel|