Signing Story: Sleepytime Gorilla Museum

Date Signed: March 2023

Label: Avant Night, Joyful Noise Recordings

Type of Music: Experimental/progressive rock

Management: All American Entertainment

Booking: Eric Carter - All American Entertainment

Publicity: Cameron Odom - Tell All Your Friends PR - [email protected]

Web: instagram.com/johnkanesociety

A band that straddles the not-so-fine lines between prog-fueled lunacy, dalliances in classical music, and acrobatics of the sensory and physical varieties isn’t exactly an easy sell. For a circus promoter, maybe, but as a music project, in an age where the bands that are the easiest to market are the most inclined to get signed, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum is a tough pitch for a record label to swallow.

As deliriously flamboyant as their name suggests, the recently reunited Oakland crew of five members—each of whom play at least six instruments—leave concert attendees awash in the type of sensory overload that Gogol Bordello and the Flaming Lips strives to achieve. Sleepytime Gorilla Museum is not the kind of band that you dare tell what to do.

“We played a great show at [the now-defunct] T.T. the Bear’s [Place in Cambridge, Massachusetts] where basically we spilled off the stage,” recalled Matthias Bossi, who plays drums, glockenspiel, melodica, percussion, piano and xylophone for the band. It was his second interview since re-forming the underground, ultra-niche act. “We had to make an extension to the stage out of road cases.”

He continued—a bit more far-fetchedly, one hopes: “We got on top of pile of festering rat carcasses.”

While that comment begged further explanation, a time limit on the conversation stymied the relay of the full, animated anecdotes. Instead, we—joined in the video conversation by the other Gorillas—turned to the more serious topic of how the art project found its latest champion.

“Early on, everybody in the Bay Area was sort of putting out their own releases in one way or another,” recalled the band, which formed in 1999. “And then, you know, somebody would get a little record label going and put out [records by] all the bands in the scene. Those things would sort of happen naturally out of the scene.”

For their first album in 17 years, Of the Last Human Being, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum got a financial boost to reunite from Nick Ohler, the head of the new label putting out their record, Avant Night. The label joined forces with Joyful Noise for the February release.

“We always intended to come back,” the band confessed. “We left some unfinished business back in 2011… We had a lot of anxiety about, you know, getting back on the road, but now that we're in the phase of doing what we do best, which is making notes.”