“I think we’re really rad and the guitarist is really cool,” Team Sleep guitarist Todd Wilkinson jokingly adds when asked how he would describe the new, long-awaited debut. Then he goes on, “It’s a combination of different things. Chino has a loud sound and I play mellow where the mood is soothing. DJ Crook gets into the electronic stuff and all the live instruments. Sonically we create a texture different from a typical rock band.”
Team Sleep also shares Deftones front man Chino Moreno. “In Deftones, there are guidelines that we stay in because of the fan base that we’ve built with this, I’m freer. And, I’m working with different people, and everyone works differently. With Team Sleep, I don’t think about guidelines, I just do what I feel,” Chino describes.
Chino and Todd started off as high school buddies. Their attraction to the same type of music including Bad Brains, The Cure and The Smiths, set them apart from their peers. Later they got an apartment together and started messing around with guitars and writing songs, unknowingly at first, Team Sleep was born. Chino reveals, “I enjoy playing guitar equally as much as singing. I’m 100% self-taught, so I enjoy figuring things out either with guitar or my voice. I started learning guitar around the same time I starting singing, probably around 14 or 15 years ago. I also play some piano.”
Todd thought back to the beginning, “Chino had a 4-track recorder. I would make tapes while he was on the road and would give them to him one every couple of weeks or so with new song ideas on them. Then we got Crook involved. We started doing the same thing, because he had the same 4-track. Then we slowly started to put things together. We weren’t too ambitious about being a ‘band.’ We were just sticking to the music.”
Low and behold, messing around with a 4-track paid off for these guys. Did Chino’s success with the Deftones help? Of course! But hey, after checking out a sold-out show at the Knitting Factory, NY, it’s obvious why they’re such a success. The seductive vocals and driving beats simply enthrall the audience.
In April 2003, the band’s first official single, “The Passportal” was featured on the soundtrack to The Matrix: Reloaded, although, fans still had to wait a year plus for the Team Sleep album to actually hit the shelves! Now, in the midst of a tour to support their new self-titled album, Team Sleep, has encountered nothing but success. Although their writing process hasn’t changed much over the years, explains Todd. “We do everything individually. I’ll have a guitar part and then we’ll produce a drumbeat. Then I’ll take it home and write a bunch of guitar parts over it. We have a lot of demos like that. Or, we’ll come up with a drum machine beat and I’ll write melodies over that.” When asked about the big difference between the Deftones and Team Sleep, Moreno mused, “It’s hard for me to see it as something so different. It’s just me making music that I like to play and sing, only with different musicians.”
On the road, Team Sleep relies on their new VOX AC30CC2X Custom Classic’s to set the mood. “I was going to buy an old, used AC30, because I loved the way it sounded. That was the amp that got me hooked on VOX. But then I heard the new amp. I like the simplicity of it and the tone,” Todd was quick to tell. Chino, who is also using the AC30CC2X, called as soon as his arrived. “I love this amp. It’s going to work out great for our sound. I enjoy the buzzsaw-like distortion I get using the mids cranked up, as well as a very lush, clean tone. I most definitely plan on using this amp with the Deftones!” he declared. He recounts his first experience with VOX, “I’ve always known of the classic AC30 sound. I just wasn’t sure how to incorporate it into the style of music Deftones were making at the time. Team Sleep was my first experience using it for its full capability, beautiful, clean tone and an ear ripping gain.”
Check out Team Sleep’s first video for the song, “Ever (Foreign Flag),” anytime at www.myspace.com/teamsleep for a good taste of what’s to come. After Chino gets back from touring with Deftones www.deftones.com Team Sleep has plans to record a sophomore album. Check out www.team-sleep.com for updated tour dates and news on the band.
By Jennifer Plonski
Photo by Keith Smith