Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Vice Interview: Sleep

Possibly one of the highlights of my life period. Interviewing the reunited for 48 hours only Sleep lineup of Matt Pike, Al Cisneros and Chris Hakius backstage after their second show at the May 2009 ATP vs The Fans Festival with Rayner.


After Fifteen Years Sleep Come Out Slugging For 48 Hours Only

A little while back I remember sitting idly talking about dream reformations with a friend on iChat after it had been announced that some nah-man-it’ll-never-happen-I-hate-that-motherfuckers-fucking-guts-I-can’t-stand-to-be-in-the-same-room-as-him band or other reformed. I can’t even remember who. In a world where every band is happy to jump through a blazing hoop and onto a festival stage for a buck or 70,000 it’s hard to keep count. Just you watch, the Stone Roses, The Smiths and for all I know the fucking Beatles will have reformed to play Glastopollooza ’09 bought to you by HMV and Carling before I’ve finished typing this sentence. But, back to that iChat conversation. My friend and I decided that the reformation to blow every other reformation out of the water, hook line and sinker would be Sleep.

No dead members, no missing presumed dead members, no members who had started playing avant-jazz clash nose flute spirituals. Nope. All three members of the band who had cut Jeruslam/Dopesmoker and Sleep’s Holy Mountain (arguably the definitive stoner rock articles) were all alive, well and playing brilliant music that took the constituent elements of Sleep and drove them as far down their divergent paths to logical end points as possible. Juts imagine them together playing those songs again…

But it was always too much to ask. At that point the split that had driven guitarist Matt Pike to High On Fire and the rhythm section of bassist Al Cisneros and drummer and Chris Hakius to Om hade taken place years previous and to compound this it had more recently been announced that Hakius had walked away from Om. With the bands founding trinity cast asunder it seemed unimaginable that a few short months later all three would step on stage together and play the most devastatingly perfect pair of shows I will probably ever see at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in the UK on the 9th and 10th of May.

Somehow we made it back stage to ask them: whowhatwherewhenwhatthefuck?

Vice: How did it feel playing those songs after almost a decade and a half?
Matt Pike (guitar):
It was really emotional, and really got out a bunch of stuff. It’s been a really long time since we’ve done that together. It was good and I think that was the experience for all three of us and probably our fans and anyone who heard it tonight too. But whatever, it was pretty deep for me anyway.

Did you play the songs informed by what you’ve all been doing since or just go back and play them as they were when you left them?
Al Cisneros (bass)
: When I had my first rehearsal with these guys after such a long time, I wanted to do things in the old Sleep songs that I would do now if we wrote them, but they didn’t belong there. So I just went back to the complete mindset of 1992, and really spent time going into that space.
Chris Hakius (drums): The body has a may of remembering what it has done before. The muscles and memory cells remember the methods.
Al: And everything else just happened

In terms of equipment did you go back to what you were using then?
Matt: I was suing the nine string guitar I use in High On Fire but we had the Orange Matamp out there tonight so compared to High On Fire you are talking apples and oranges.
Al: And Toni Iommi’s key which really made a difference tonight but it was actually, pretty close.

You’ve said this is it but is it something that you would possibly do again?
Matt: Whatever the Universe tells us to do we will listen.
Al: We had talked about it in August at my wedding, when all three of us were together for the first time in a long time and we decided that all three of us were interested and once we’d decided to do it a call came through the next week so it was suddenly like “wow, we’re doing this”. The whole thing has been blessed from the start.
Chris: It felt like the time was right and as he says the universe spoke to us so we listened.

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