Orchestra conductor Leopold Stokowski once said, “A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.” While most people see music and visual art as separate entities, The Sleepyheads, often serving as the opening act in Manila’s premier galleries such as Silverlens and Mo’s space, construct their songs to serve as the soundtrack to the art that surrounds them. Their raw low-fi beats and cheeky lyrics that address frustration of living life at the margins are pure voltage. Their songs—shocking, humorous, fearless—arouse the senses, provoke dreams and images, and most importantly, foster a sense of curiosity and wonder. Thus, much like Banksy’s or Black Le Rat’s stealthily sprayed on images, the controversial sculptures of Ai Weiwei, or the experimental music of Laurie Anderson, The Sleepyheads are all about subverting the status quo and breaking down the barriers of a society steeped in self-consciousness and material concerns.
On stage, the members of the band, John Jayvee del Rosario (drums, vox), Erick Encinares (bass) and Rico Entico (guitar), beat, strum and sing songs of lust, longing and liberation from the frustrations of modern urban life. They aren’t just guys in a band—these men are artists.
So entrenched in the local art scene, these outsiders have not just acquired the moral support of their fellow artists, but also their skills and talents. Their three album covers were designed by Louie Cordero, Manuel Ocampo (who also painted the inside cover of Beck’s ‘Odelay’album) and the legendary Roberto Chabet, respectively. In fact, Roberto Chabet, pioneer of the conceptual art group Shop 6, said that the band’s music “had DADAIST touches in their cut-up lyrics” and titling the band’s music as “dressed down rock.”
But before anyone romanticizes the notion that these ‘artists’ and a ‘musicians’ are simply free spirits running on passion than discipline, hard work and patience, then The Sleepyheads (and the rest of the local art community) will prove you wrong. In fact, the band has been playing together, and independently producing their work for over a decade. Back in the 1980s, John Jayvee and Erick met through a friend while at Trinity College. They quickly bonded over a common love for bands like The Velvet Underground, The Talking Heads, The Modern Lovers and The Shaggs, they decided to team up and name their band after Jonathan Richman’s “Wake Up Sleepyheads”. Although they played music together throughout the late 1980s to the 1990s, they officially formed The Sleepyheads in 2000. Rico Entico joined the group a few years later, thus completing this merry band of ‘art rebels and outsiders.’
Eleven rock ‘n’ roll years later, the band continues to stay true to their mission of preserving their raw art-fueled avant-garde approach to their work and proving that “music is universal, rock ‘n’ roll is forever, and that dreams matter.” With two albums under their belt, ‘(Don’t Let Our) Tuneless Moaning (Go To Waste)’ (2006) and ‘Malnutrition Of Love’ (2010), and a third album set to be released in September of 2011, the band has not only proven that “dreams matter”, but that dreams can indeed come true.
For more information on their gigs, news and upcoming album, check out their website www.coffeecontrolled.com
(Original post: CNN iReport)