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Sleepy Township

Sleepy Township

Sleepy Township were an amazing band. I wish they would one day get back together. In the meantime, they are doing other amazing things... Mia and Chris are in New Estate, Alison is in panel of Judges, and Guy is doing some solo stuff. His new album sounds incredible (due out sometime in '07, on Chapter Records, I'm guessing).

Here's an old press release written by David Nichols that we nicked from the Sleepy site...

The members of Sleepy Township are surrounded by critics. These critics may be well-wishers or they may be ill-wishers (usually the former) but they have nothing but good ideas about what Sleepy Township should and shouldn't do. Usually these ideas are not passed on to the band but whispered behind their backs. Sleepy Township never talk to each other about future directions, you see, and nor do they discuss even the simplest things, like who's going to drive the stuff to the Punters', until the very last minute. While this might look like a simple lack of organisation, I think it is more likely a determined direction, based on a philosophy of (1) anarchy and (2) a self-fulfilling belief that what happens must happen through the otherwise unexpressed will of the group - perhaps a bit like a ouija board. For those of us on the edge of the circle looking in it is supremely frustrating; but perhaps we should simply concede that the group has been together in some form for over five years and shows no sign of petering out, and most importantly has consistently delivered top-quality pop music in an original and creative vein.

Sleepy Township are: Guy Blackman on guitar, keyboards and vocals. Guy's musical activities used to be overshadowed in many people's minds by his fanzine production and, back in Perth, by his reputation generally as a scenester and arbiter of taste. These days, in Melbourne, he still does things like DJing and radio, and run his label Chapter; he also plays bass in Minimum Chips, but his songwriting skills are focused on Sleepy Township. He formed the band and named it, and in its early days he was its only songwriter; it was his vehicle. Mia Schoen on guitar, keyboards, occasional bass and vocals is an extraordinarily versatile musician and artist and also the partner of the present writer. If you think I am therefore going to be biased in my assessment of her work you should perhaps listen to her two remarkable songs on the EP this press release is intended to promote. Mia, who also plays in Long Weekend, Huon and Driving Past, began her musical career in the band Molasses, a group which still casts a magic spell of transfixion on many Perthites who remember its deservedly meteoric rise in the early-to-mid-90s. Mia was already a member of Sleepy Township when Molasses finally bit the dust, but her role broadened from that of an instrumentalist to songwriter and singer in the band. Chris Gorman on drums and vocals is similarly a legend in Perth and made a name for himself most particularly in the group Mustang, once again in the early 90s. Though he has long been known as a master drummer, Chris's vocal abilities have gained prominence during his time in Sleepy Township, a talent that until recently he was exploiting in a parallel career in the hugely successful Jaguar is Jaguar. He joined Sleepy Township in 1995 to replace early drummer Paul Williams who was going north. Alison Bolger on bass and occasional guitar, keyboards and vocals is the most recent addition to Sleepy Township; the only member of the group who does not have a Perth origin, Alison is a dextrous multi-instrumentalist, the only person I know who was able to get a tune out of a piano accordion I bought, even though she'd never played one. Originally from Brisbane, she was a member of Clag and also plays in Panel of Judges. All members of the group write songs; all are multi-faceted as performers. Where this occasionally might cause bafflement for audiences, confusion almost always changes to delight.

Though they may appear directionless the band has managed to travel considerably within Australia, and to produce a number of records: a split single with the Cannanes in '96, a three-song 7" the following year, an album, Set Sail, in '98, and many contributions to compilations around the world.

Journalists try hard to pin a tag on Sleepy Township; the old warhorse of 'lo-fi' comes up a lot, though it is clearly inaccurate in this case. I would say that it's difficult to deny that the group takes some of its musical cues from the 1960s groups of the west coast of the USA; covers they've done live in the last few years, by Love and the Beach Boys, bear this not-very-original observation out. Unlike many musicians, they do have a good sense of history and can name and value their precedents, and that's important, because it means they're not repeating anyone else, let alone themselves.

sleepy township

Sleepy Township "All These Records" CD $18 (L&L010) (Add To Basket)