Don’t feed the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum

Band gobbles up grand theatrics and spits them out in its shows

Frederic Hanson

So you know that club in Rhode Island where Great White played and all those people died – they’re filing for bankruptcy.”

This is how Matthias Bossi answers his telephone.

It is pretty weird. But so is Bossi.

The classically trained turned neo-futurist musician is the drummer and “orator” in Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, one of the strangest and scariest groups in music today.

To spend time on specifics would be pointless. But I will say that the band is passionate about cooking stew on their green tour bus while making their own instruments while investigating the raping and pillaging of the earth while wearing hellish costumes while forbidding humans from attending their shows.

And then of course there is the blistering music – an apocalyptic industrial melee of jet-washed howling and geometric guitars.

Recently Bossi spoke with the Daily regarding this mathematic San Francisco Bay area progressive rock circus/collective/troupe/thing that he calls home.

So, how did you get involved with Sleepytime Gorilla Museum?

It’s a really long story involving my old band rolling our van in the middle of the desert, and then having Sleepytime roll up in their bus the day after Christmas, driving us back to the East Coast.

Why should anyone see a Sleepytime show?

The appeal of the music is that people are able to go and see a band about to see it destroy itself. We’re destroying rock with rock. It’s such a seat-of-the-pants show. We spend hours and days and weeks rehearsing the random time signature tunes. Then anything can happen during the show. It’s a total cacophonous circus. Anything can happen.

Your shows are very theatrical.

Yes. We create a little environment. It looks like we’re in the same place every time – like we sort of exist in a museum, stopped in time.

Do you have a background in theater or something?

I come from a distant theater background. I guess I’m somewhat of a closeted thespian – a guy who’s never been able to totally let it rip, and now he’s in a band with a bunch of freaks who let him do whatever he wants. Everyone is super confident on stage. It’s basically a bunch of actors being musicians or vice versa.

You really sound more like a family than a band.

We’re definitely a family. We couldn’t do it the way we do if we couldn’t get along – it’s way too personal. We sleep on the bus; it’s a constantly moving thing.

Tell me about this bus.

We go 30 mph uphill, and if we’re lucky. We basically spend a month in this 36-foot-long tube with eight people really, really knowing each other. There’s a whole lot of mess, but we definitely get along.

Are you the sound of the future?

We are here to save the world and bring our music to the people. We’re in it just for the music. We’re totally underground, do-it-yourself. Not interested in commercial success and because of that, we have become successful.

We just love playing these songs and mostly just hanging out with each other. Personally, beyond the stage, we just get along so well, drinking and reading plays. We’re a bunch of Ö nerds, and nerds stick together.