Al Cisneros, Matt Pike, Jason Roeder
Background information
Origin San Jose, California, USA
Genres Doom metal, Stoner Metal
Years active 19901997, 20092019
Labels Tupelo, Earache, Very Small, London Records, Southern Lord Records, Tee Pee Records, Rise Above Records, The Music Cartel, Third Man Records
Associated acts Om, High on Fire, Neurosis, Shrinebuilder, Asbestosdeath, The Sabians, Kalas
Website Website
Current members Al Cisneros, Matt Pike, Jason Roeder
Past members Chris Hakius, Justin Marler
Band Logo
Sleep Logo.png

Sleep are a stoner/doom metal band originally from San Jose, California. Active during the 1990s, Sleep earned critical and record label attention early in their career. However, conflicts with their record company had contributed to Sleep's breakup by 1997. The band would reform initially in what was intended to be a one-off reunion in 2009 but remained active for ten years, touring the world and eventually releasing a new studio album, The Sciences in 2018. The band begin a second indefinite hiatus from the start of 2020

The band is known for being one of the key bands coining the term "stoner metal" among their extensive worship of the riff, space, marijuana and Tony Iommi (Who is constantly referenced along with Black Sabbath in posters, lyrics and social media.).

History[edit | edit source]

Asbestosdeath (1989 - 1990)[edit | edit source]

Sleep evolved in the early 1990s from the band Asbestosdeath, which was established by vocalist/bassist Al Cisneros, drummer Chris Hakius, and guitarist Tom Choi. Asbestosdeath expanded to a quartet with the introduction of Matt Pike on guitar, and recorded two singles - Dejection for Profane Existence and the self released Unclean. Choi departed in December 1990 and would later found Operator Generator, It Is I, Noothgrush, and Las Vegas' Black Jetts. Asbestosdeath recruited Justin Marler as replacement and the band adopted the new name, Sleep. According to Chris Hakius in an interview with Panache, it was Marler who came up with the idea to name the band Sleep.[1]

Recording era (1990 - 1997)[edit | edit source]

Their debut album Volume One was released in 1991 via Tupelo recording company. Frequently compared to bands like Saint Vitus, Sleep soon gained a devoted fanbase within the developing doom metal scene. After just a handful of shows in the summer of 1991, Marler quit the band soon after to take up life as an orthodox monk. This left the band as a power trio for the recording of their Volume Two EP, which was released officially by Off The Disk Records in 1991. By the fall of 1991 the band started adapting more of the sound they are known for, having worked in new songs like "Evil Gypsy/Solomon's Theme" and "Inside The Sun" by that point.[2]

The band's next album was sent to Earache Records as a demo. Recorded at Razors Edge studios in San Francisco by Billy Anderson and Chris Savino, the tape showcased Sleep's love of all things retro from the blatant Black Sabbath/Blue Cheer influences to their fixation with 1970's-style tube amplification. The label immediately signed the band and released the tape exactly as it was received.


Sleep - Dragonaut - Live

Sleep's Holy Mountain (1992) is widely considered a seminal album in the evolution of stoner metal, with Ozzy Osbourne purportedly calling them "The closest thing to the original Black Sabbath". From 1993 to 1994 the band would start touring in the United States and Europe with the likes of Cathedral, Penance, Cannibal Corpse and Nik Turner's Hawkwind to name a few. The album's release was followed by offers from London Records and Elektra Records, with Sleep ultimately signing with London. Around this time, Earache released its first Black Sabbath Tribute album, and Sleep contributed a cover of "Snowblind".

After legal wrangling with Earache that delayed production they began work on their third album, Dopesmoker, in 1995 (Though the song had been in the works as early as 1994 as indicated by live performances.). Much to the dismay of executives at London Records, Dopesmoker was a single song more than one hour long. London Records declared the album unmarketable and refused to release it. Sleep returned to the studio and then submitted their second attempt at the new album. They had renamed it Jerusalem, re-written some of the lyrics, tracked it in six "parts" and trimmed it down to a "lean" 52 minutes, but it was essentially the same as Dopesmoker. London Records again refused to release it (Though promo CDs and cassettes do exist from the label.). Frustrated and generally unhappy with the situation, Sleep would ultimately disband in 1997 with their last known live shows at the time happening in 1994 (Though some fans have stated the band performed in 1995).

First Hiatus (1998 - 2008)[edit | edit source]

Roughly six months after the dissolution of Sleep according to multiple sources (Including Pike), Matt Pike would form High on Fire. Chris Hakius would briefly retire from playing music (Being inactive for two years with Sleep's inactivity and breakup) and taking up a job as a truck driver before reuniting with former Sleep guitarist Justin Marler to form The Sabians. Al Cisneros would become a chess teacher and stop playing music entirely for years though in 2003 he would reconcile with Hakius to form Om.

In 1998, Sleep and their former manager granted approval to Tony Presedo, head of Tee Pee Records and friend of the band, for the release of Jerusalem posthumously as an "official bootleg". One year later, Jerusalem was given an official legitimate release by The Music Cartel in the US and Rise Above Records in Europe.

Finally, in 2003 the original version of Dopesmoker was officially released by Tee Pee Records with a bonus live track of unrecorded song "Sonic Titan". It is generally considered the definitive version of the album. An excerpted version can be heard on Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers original soundtrack. In 2012, Southern Lord Records would re-release Dopesmoker with a new mix by Brad Boatright from the original tapes, new artwork by Arik Roper and a bonus live version of "Holy Mountain" from 1994. This version of the album reached number 14 on the Top Heatseekers chart.

In 2007 a CD compilation of both 7" releases of the pre-Sleep band, Asbestosdeath, was released on Southern Lord Records on CD and 10" as Dejection, Unclean.

Reunion and The Clarity (2009 - 2015)[edit | edit source]

In May 2009, Sleep reformed to perform two exclusive reunion sets in England as part of the All Tomorrow's Parties music festival. These shows would be notable as Chris Hakius' final performances with the band, the band performing Sleep's Holy Mountain in it's entirety for the first time and introducing an unreleased song entitled "Antartican's Thawed".


Sleep - The Clarity

After their initial reunion performance, original drummer Chris Hakius decided to retire from music to raise a family, and he was replaced on drums by Jason Roeder of Neurosis fame. This would lead to the Marijuanaut's Return tour as Roeder's first performances with the band, mainly echoing the ATP shows performing all of Holy Mountain, excerpts from Dopesmoker and Antartican's Thawed.

From 2010 forward, Sleep performed similar sporadic festival and touring engagements, when the member's otherwise busy touring schedules permitted. In late 2012, in conjunction with an upcoming appearance at Maryland Deathfest, the band stated that they consider Sleep to be a "full, reunited band". In 2014 Al Cisneros announced in an interview that the band were working on a new record. On July 21, 2014, a new song titled The Clarity by Sleep was released via Adult Swim Singles, their first new recording in nearly twenty years. In April 2014, it was announced that Sleep are set to headline the 2015 edition of DesertFest London.[3][4] A European tour around the time of their DesertFest performance was also set. In February of 2015, the magazine Guitar World named Dopesmoker the heaviest album ever recorded.[5]

In January of 2016 The New York Times wrote a letter of recommendation on "Dopesmoker" and it's impact on the music world in general.[6] Around the same time the band would announce a tour with Windhand among a string of European appearances.

On May 24, Southern Lord Records announced a new Sleep release was in the works with the following statement: "Not entirely new but we will have a Sleep release coming soon. Keep it here for more info."[7] This would prove to be a Southern Lord re-release of The Clarity with a new mix and glow-in-the-dark polyvinyl sleeves.

The Sciences (2016 - 2019)[edit | edit source]

On 19 September 2016 in an interview with CBS San Fransisco, Matt Pike stated that Sleep have tentative plans to record their new album in March 2017.[8] A tour of the United States is planned in between the proposed recording sessions including headlining spots at DesertFest Berlin, DesertFest London and Primavera Sound.

On 12 April 2017, Sleep posted on their homepage a message in morse code confirming a new album is close to completion with Noah Landis as engineer, translating to the following: "INITIALIZE NEW TRANSMISSION 2017 CE SLEEP NEARING COMPLETION OF NEW ALBUM ENGINEERING ACCOMPLICE: NOAH LANDIS LOCATION: 37.8044 N, 122.2711 W RELEASE DATE: UNDETERMINED RECORD LABEL: UNDETERMINED".[9][10] On 31 May 2017 it was announced that Sleep would once again be contributing to the Adult Swim Singles series as they did in 2014 with the release of The Clarity.[11] On 18 September 2017 it was announced via Daymare Recordings that Sleep will perform in Japan for the first time in January of 2018[12] and performing for the first time in Mexico in March of 2018. A tour of Australia and New Zealand was in the works but ultimately canceled due to sexual misconduct conflicts with tour promoters Life Is Noise.

On 19 April 2018 (20 April 2018 in Australia at the time of publication) Sleep released their fourth studio album The Sciences as a surprise release with no announcement, via Third Man Records.[13] Featuring four brand new songs and proper studio recordings of "Sonic Titan" and "Antarticans Thawed", it is the first studio album by the band in 20 years and the first with the current lineup. On 23 May 2018, Sleep finally released their second adult swim single entitled Leagues Beneath (Later released as a 12" single via Third Man). Spanning nearly seventeen minutes, this song was initially written in the same sessions as Dopesmoker and eventually recorded in the same sessions as The Sciences.

In August 2018 it would be announced that Sleep would make their return to Roadburn Festival as the festival's headliners. On one night the band will be performing all of Sleep's Holy Mountain with bonuses and on the other Sleep will perform all of The Sciences with bonuses. On 7 January 2019, Third Man Records would announce a 4LP box set of Sleep's first official live album. Sleep would follow up with further touring in support of The Sciences and ultimately the band's most extensive touring cycle of their career.

Second Hiatus (2020 Onward)[edit | edit source]

How Sleep announced their second hiatus in November 2019.

On 10th November 2019, it was announced on Sleep's social media channels that the band would be playing three final shows at Thalia Hall, Chicago, Illinois, USA on the 29th, 30th and 31st of December, before taking an indefinite hiatus from 1st January 2020 onward.[14] It is presumed that Cisneros, Pike and Roeder will focus on Om, High on Fire and Neurosis respectively for the foreseeable future. In their 10 year run between the end of their first hiatus in 2009 and the start of their second in 2020, Sleep released one studio album, one live album and two singles as well as playing countless shows around the world.

Discography[edit | edit source]

Studio Albums[edit | edit source]

Extended Plays[edit | edit source]

Singles[edit | edit source]

Live Albums[edit | edit source]

Members[edit | edit source]

Current Members[edit | edit source]

Former Members[edit | edit source]

List of Known Tours[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Humboldt Music/PanacheAccessed 2 September 2016
  2. Setlist.fmAccessed 2 September 2016
  4. The Obelisk Sleep to Headline London Desertfest 2015
  5. Guitar World Sleep's Dopesmoker is the Heaviest Album ever Recorded
  6. New York TimesLetter of Recommendation: Sleep, ‘Dopesmoker’, accessed 20 April 2016
  7. Southern Lord FacebookAccessed 25 May 2016
  8. CBS SF Bay AreaAccessed 23 September 2016
  9. Vitriol Inc.Accessed 15 April 2017
  10. Weedian, accessed 15 April 2017Accessed 15 April 2017
  11. Brooklyn VeganAccessed 1 June 2017
  12. Daymare RecordingsAccessed 18 September 2017
  13. LoudwireSLEEP TO SURPRISE RELEASE NEW ALBUM ‘THE SCIENCES’ ON 4/20, accessed 19 April 2018
  14. Sleep on Facebook Hypersleep - First accessed 12th November 2019
  15. Action-PRAccessed March 8, 2016.
  16. CvltnationAccessed March 8, 2016.
  17. Undercover.Fm
  18. BrooklynVeganAccessed March 8, 2016.
  19. The PRPAccessed March 8, 2016.
  20. Doomed & Stoned Facebook
  21. Big Business Facebook
  22. Sleep Facebook
  23. Sleep Facebook
  24. Sleep Facebook Event
  25. Sleep Facebook Event
  26. Sleep Facebook Event
  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
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