If you’ve heard anything at all about Team Sleep, you already know it’s the side project of Chino Moreno, lead singer of the Deftones. If you’ve taken the time to hear the disc, Team Sleep [Maverick] you know it’s White Pony-era Deftones that’s dropped a little acid and is happily surfing in ambience, with an occasional gush of big, fuzzy, Smashing Pumpkins style guitar. But if you take the time to get to know Team Sleep’s guitarist, Todd Wilkinson, you’ll understand quickly that this is one guy whose interview won’t put you to sleep.
On the phone, Todd greets nighttimes.com this way:
“The last couple interviews were really boring. Can we have fun? Can I tell you a story of what happened to me last night?” After initial laughter and an ‘absolutely’ from me, he continues, telling me how he chipped his front tooth last night carrying a big box, with a twelve-pack of soda on top, and a cup of tea on top of that…
“…and I was walking down a hill to the bus, I was taking the shit to the bus. And, the cup started falling over, I tried to catch it and it hit me in the mouth and chipped my tooth!”
Todd says he’s going to endure the chip and leave it how it is. “It adds character,” he says.
So is it true the Team Sleep CD was ten years in the making?
“Kinda, k-i-n-d-a. [ed.--Todd wants me to be sure to spell it out that way] I mean you could look at it that way, if you want to. But, we kinda just started playing a long time ago, longer than that. That whole period of time was when we were learning how to play the guitar, record, write songs. We never sat down and said, ‘we are a band now and, like, start the clock’. We definitely aren’t the most organized people as far as getting things done. Obviously, Chandler is really busy and I am working and going to school.”
Through the phone Todd sounds like he’s sucking on a joint. We hear a short cough on his end, and we continue. We don’t ask. Instead, we pursue learning more about his learning…
“Yeah, [I’m studying] English at the University in Sacramento, California.” He says he reads and writes. “I do a little bit of everything.” Exhale.
“I don’t really write creatively,” he says. “I think that it is the same impulse, though, that inspires to make music. They’re so much the same. And music and literature are so much the same thing. If you apply it to music it works better. Music doesn’t make sense. If you could say melody in a word, you wouldn’t need music.”
What are you reading these days?
“A book on music. I brought a bunch of books on tour, but it is hard to read on tour because your brain goes away, you know,” he laughs. “I don’t know, books on literature, but mostly I am just trying to stay reading, whether it is the fucking Da Vinci Coder or some shit like that. I am reading a book right now that is called, Music, the Brain, and Ecstasy.” He assures us he means the emotion, not the drug.
Todd says his favorite books change all the time, and he likes Walt Whitman a lot. “It depends on what day it is,” he adds.
The album is getting a nice bit of praise from the critics, however hardcore Deftones fans don’t seem to be catching on, much in the way that many old-timers thought White Pony was too mellow.
“We didn’t try to make it like the Deftones,” Todd says. “I didn’t write White Pony. But at the same time, I have been friends with those guys for 18 years, and we don’t hang out now as much as we used to, but we have grown up listening to the same music and listening to each other. I mean, obviously we have the same singer...”
Were you trying for a certain guitar sound?
“Maybe just the effect of the sound, in a lot of ways a soothing kind of sound…the Smashing Pumpkins would definitely be the one to compare it to, if you had to choose one.”
What was it like working with Mike Patton?
“It was like we sent him some shit, and he worked on it and sent it back. But like, what we sent him and what he sent back…that guy is amazing. [His music with Faith No More, Butthole Surfers, Fantomas, etc.] isn’t really the type I am in to, but it is just fucking amazing. A long time ago, when that [Faith No More] record, Angel Dust [Slash] came out, that’s all we listened to. We would drive back from Sacramento and listen to that record over and over.
The video for the Team Sleep song, “Ever,” is a hypnotic, abstract work of art with numbers and letters dripping down urban landscapes like a Salvador Dali painting in motion. Todd says the process of filming the video was a good time.
“We kinda went into it with an open mind, like when we wrote up the idea, it was really [intentionally] vague. But it was cool, we did it in Los Angeles. We went in it with an idea and when we filmed it, it wasn’t exactly what we wanted. So, we hooked up with some other people and got what we wanted. What we wanted was an anonymous city.” Todd says he wanted the anonymity to give it a broader appeal, and also to work for anyone and everyone, with whatever’s going on in their lives. “I mean, that is what music does for me. We filmed all of it, and it wasn’t really there, and that was what made it so cool.”
Tell us something about Team Sleep that most people don’t know:
“There is something about me,” Todd says with confidence. “I will whoop your ass in basketball. Another thing is that I can make better chicken noodle soup than you.”
Give us some dirt on Chino:
“He has a hairy-ass back. Even back when we were kids, when we would shave each others’ heads and shit, we were like, where do we stop?”
Is there something you’re hoping I’ll ask you? Something you wanna tell NT?
“Nah, I am just trying to have some fun.”
Does anyone ever give you trouble?
“Nah, if they do, I will fuck them up. And say, you are a fuckin’ nobody!”
Team Sleep is currently on tour. Catch their show in these cities:
07/17/2005 - SAUGET, IL – “POP’S”
07/18/2005 - LAWRENCE, KS – “THE BOTTLENECK”
07/19/2005 - OMAHA, NE - “SOKOL UNDERGROUND”
07/20/2005 - COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – “THE DARKSIDE”
07/21/2005 - DENVER, CO - “BLUEBIRD THEATRE”
07/22/2005 - SALT LAKE CITY, UT – “LO-FI CAFE”
07/24/2005 - SEATTLE, WA - “EL CORAZON”
07/25/2005 - PORTLAND, OR - “LOVELAND”
07/26/2005 - OAKLAND, CA - “iMUSICAST”
07/27/2005 - LOS ANGELES, CA – “EL REY”
07/28/2005 – SACRAMENTO, CA – “EMPIRE”