Justin Marler
Justin Marler.jpg
Marler in Orthodox garb.
Background information
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
Instrument(s) Guitar, Vocals
Years active 1990 - 1991, 1999 - 2004, 2010 - Present
Labels Tupelo
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 (Left) performing with Sleep in 1991.

Marler (Left) performing with Sleep in 1991.

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 [1]

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]


Monk John Marler - Lamentation full album


The Sabians - Via Dolorosa

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".[2] 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 [3]

Relocating to Austin, Texas: Shiny Empire & Quick and The Dead[edit | edit source]


SHINY EMPIRE live @ The Mix April 1. 2011


Will the Circle Be Unbroken

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.[4]

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.[5]

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]

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]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. My Statesmen The Unbroken Circle, accessed 27 March 2018
  2. Loudwire on YouTubeMatt Pike - Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?, 2:35 into the video
  3. Utter Trash Rock and Soul - An interview with Justin Marler of The Sabians, accessed 27 March 2018
  4. Punk News
  5. The Metal Vault
  V·T·E  Sleep
Current Members  Al CisnerosMatt PikeJason Roeder
Past Members Chris HakiusJustin Marler
Albums Volume OneSleep's Holy MountainJerusalemDopesmokerThe Sciences
Live Albums Sleep Live at Third Man Records
Extended Plays & Singles Volume TwoThe ClarityLeagues Beneath
Associated Bands and Artists AsbestosdeathDejection, UncleanOmHigh on FireNeurosisKalasThe SabiansShrinebuilderDenver Colorado 09.05.10Billy AndersonArik RoperDavid V. D'andrea
V·T·E The Sabians
Members Chris HakiusJustin MarlerPatrick HuertaRachel Huerta
Studio Albums Beauty For AshesShiver
Associated Bands and Artists SleepOmShrinebuilderAsbestosdeathThe Music Cartel
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