Sleepy People

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The hard-working and militantly indie Sleepy People formed around the Christmas of 1991 when the provincial Paul Hope and Rachel Theresa united with their old college friends Andrew "Tiny" Wood, Richard…
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The hard-working and militantly indie Sleepy People formed around the Christmas of 1991 when the provincial Paul Hope and Rachel Theresa united with their old college friends Andrew "Tiny" Wood, Richard Green, and Andy Peace to kick off one of the most confusing and convoluted band Venn diagrams of the British 1990s. The Newcastle band's obscure sound, along the lines of Shellac recording the Field Mice's For Keeps, was rooted in the band's establishment of their own frenzied rehearsal house known as Sleepy Hall. Here, amidst soundproofing, frequent parties, and occasional practices, the band roped in keyboardist Liz Wardby and grew enough confidence to make their live debut in February of 1992 and later embark on a devouring two-year tour consisting of over 120 stops. But the schedule paid its toll and Sleepy People's revolving door policy began to turn ever so slowly. Liz Wardby left the band, and it wasn't long before Wood, Green, Peace, and Pete Haslem, who had just replaced Wardby, split from the band to pursue more immediate success in London under the indie-prog madmen banner of Ultrasound.

Still, Hope and Theresa remained undaunted. Staying behind in Newcastle, they brought in Graeme Swaddle on drums (previously of psychedelic group the Dead Flowers), Daniel Orange on keyboards, former Soil member Bill "Cowboy" Bailey on bass, and Phil Sears on vocal duties. This new lineup made their re-debut at the Newcastle Arts Centre in the winter of 1995 and went off to cram another 65 gigs in the same year. It was during this tour that Jess Cox, ex-singer of Tygers of Pan Tang, caught the band and offered to release their debut 7" single, "Home Is Where the Telly Is/Hanghar," in the Spring of 1996 on his own label, Edgy Records. The single quickly sold out and the band responded in the only way they knew how -- by splitting up again. Keyboardist Orange left to do performance art in London, bassist Bailey returned to Yorkshire, and Anna Blaydon and Gary Bowden arrived to replace the replacements. With yet another lineup in place, Sleepy People recorded their first CD album, Typohoid & Swans, in late 1997 which met with a gushing underground press and an indifferent mainstream, and once again the roster changed. Lead singer Sears saw what Ultrasound were doing and departed for London while Lee Haley joined only to find his light melodies clashing with Sleepy People's chaotic sound. Haley left shortly thereafter to form his own band, the Embassy, on Prescription Records, but what remained of the original band was left wanting.

Stubborn and singer-less, Sleepy People watched the rise and fall of their friends in Ultrasound and spun down into their own lull of indecision. While Org Records re-released Sleepy People's debut tape album, Blunt Nails in a Sharp Wall (a collection of songs recorded in the two years on the road in 1992 and 1993 when Wood, Green, and Peace were still with the band), on CD in late 1999, it took the further replacement of Bowden with bassist Tom Evans and a little help from Green (a return favor for various Sleepy People members helping out his growing Somatics project), yet another return and departure of Sears on vocals, and the more acceptable arrival of Mark Dunphy (younger brother of the Cud frontman) to start recording their oft-delayed follow-up LP. By now it was early 2000, and after crawling out of such a nebulous swamp of internal rows and lineup alterations, the band had finally decided to kick over the engine with the symbolic gesture of letting go of their old title and renaming themselves Blue Apple Boy.