Deep Sleep Operator
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Deep Sleep Operator

Chippewa Falls, WI | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Chippewa Falls, WI | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Metal Hard Rock





January 2nd, 2014

On our way back to Chicago from the north woods Thursday, Tammy and I got stranded in Madison thanks to a massive snow storm back home. Of course we looked around to see if there were any shows, and we found that Throw the Fight would be playing at the Frequency along with Deep Sleep Operator later that night. We never pass up an opportunity to see a live show, so we headed over to the venue to check it out. A loud, angry-sounding lead guitar howled and screamed at us as we entered the place (our favorite way to walk into a room). We found out later that it wasn’t a guitar solo planned specially for our entrance; it was just really good timing combined with an extraordinary opening band, Deep Sleep Operator. The singer, Mark Ehlers, had an eerie Dave Mustaine-like growl in his voice and wore a mask and straightjacket which only added to the already daunting music. The guitar was being shredded more than any cheese that night (being in Wisconsin, that’s a rarity), and all these aspects combined to give their set a mysterious, almost sci-fi atmosphere. -

"Lunatics Serenade/Deep Sleep Operator"

Waking from a Deep Sleep:
An interview with Mark Ehlers

You have to hand it to Wisconsin based musician Mark Ehlers for sticking to his guns, taking on a DIY one man band called Deep Sleep Operator. The thing about this project is how the music is culled together from bits and parts of different genres and fantastical elements. All coming together in a swirl of sci-fi concepts and bizarre live imagery, creating the mystique of DSO.

To be honest, I had not heard about DSO until Mark contacted HMS recently to review his debut disc “While the Earth Sleeps”. I’m glad he did though because upon giving this an initial spin I was quickly taken aback - there’s so much going on here when you consider the dense histrionics surrounding the songs and the alluring guitar riffs, effectively creating an apocalyptic soundtrack.

If the world was to truly come to an end today, I would expect to see Mark at the helm leading the charge of chaotic sounds. This is what DSO is all about and I was lucky enough to sit down and have a chat with the man.

HMS: Let’s begin with the band’s origins. DSO is essentially a one man DIY project, so can you tell me how this all came about?

Mark Ehlers: It really has been years in the making for sure. Just constantly writing and recording, improving and trying to learn how to basically be a good songwriter, singer, guitarist and recording engineer. Technology caught up finally, and I was able to create the audio lunacy that had been kicking around in my head.

HMS: You’ve stated in your bio that if Steven Spielberg had nightmares, then the end result would be DSO. Are you a big fan of Spielberg’s work, or Sci-fi in general?

Mark Ehlers: For sure, I'm a fan of his. Anyone who can make a film about a shark, which in turn, causes people literally to be terrified of going in a swimming pool afterwards deserves respect. Close Encounters too had a big impact on me as a kid as well - those 5 notes coming out of the mothership towards the end was beyond epic. I got to say, I thought his more recent film Super 8 was solid too and one of my favorite aliens.

HMS: I know you are based in Wisconsin, so what is the music scene like? Is the scene accepting of DSO?

Mark Ehlers: Being around smaller cities, I'm not sure there is what I'd call a scene, but there is a love of hard rock/metal music for sure. It's funny because it never goes away, it just kind of goes underground. There are some great venues that have supported DSO in Wisconsin as well as some FM radio stations in Madison and Green Bay that have played us. Maybe there is a scene? Deep Sleep Operator is such a new entity it's hard to gauge how we fit in or don't fit in you know? Ask me again in 5 years.

HMS: Can you talk about the live aspects of the show? In particular your stage costume and presence?

Mark Ehlers: The Live show really is a natural extension of what you hear on the album. It has to be over the top, visual and entertaining. I've told people I don't want to stand on stage playing “Feed them Dirt” while shoe gazing, unless my shoes are on fire. I think there is a freedom for me to become this alter ego and go up onstage and play my heart out for sure. It's been said the true identity of a man only comes out when he wears a mask and I have to agree. People wear masks every day of their lives and they don't even know it.

"People wear masks every day of their lives and they don't even know it."

HMS: In the review I wrote for the album, I mentioned some comparisons to Alice Cooper and Dave Mustaine, so tell me how you feel about being compared to these musical legends?

Mark Ehlers: It really is the ultimate compliment! Kind of surreal for sure. I am a huge Alice fan and Megadeth too. Those guys have done it all, and are still doing it in this business is no easy task! Alice is so known for his stage theatrics, but to me his songs were his strong point, so unique and underrated! “Billion Dollar Babies” is one of the coolest songs of all time and “Cold Ethyl”, man I could go on and on. I recently saw Megadeth perform a few months back and they were lethal. Chris Broderick is amazing and the show left me feeling very inspired!

HMS: The response for DSO has been overwhelmingly positive, so how do you plan upon building for the future of the band?

Mark Ehlers: A lot of things are in the works that will hopefully take Deep Sleep Operator to the next level. Hopefully bigger shows and touring opportunities will solidify. This band really belongs on the road and it's no secret that for rock bands, that’s what has to happen. So we'll see if the planets align and so far so good.

HMS: HMS is a website that brings the best of metal and horror to the masses, so do you have a favorite horror movie?

Mark Ehlers: Some people might not know this film, but my favorite horror movie is "The Car" - I think it came out in 1977. This creepy looking black car terrorizes people in a small Texas town. Turns out it’s the devil driving it, mowing people down left and right. Good stuff!

HMS: What inspires you musically?

Mark Ehlers: I think it's life really that inspires. The “every day” gets put into a mental blender. Every song, every film, every painting I see on the wall, every star I see as I look up into the sky at night, everything gets recorded and I think it comes back out through song. Good things and bad things equally inspire me whether I want them too or not. Such is life I guess.

HMS: This is a bit of cheesy question to end things off, but if we really had an alien invasion what would you do?

Mark Ehlers: It's not cheesy at all! People should think about this. The problem is, how do you prepare for the unknown? There's nothing worse than a bump in the night that you have no idea who, or what caused it. All you do know is the hair on the back of your neck is standing straight up. The funny thing is, I don't fear an invasion because they're already here among us, and they've been here long before we were even here. For humanity to think the Earth is ours alone is a little narcissistic and self centered don't you think?

You can listen to Deep Sleep Operator’s CD here. Read more about Deep Sleep Operator on their website.

Kenneth Gallant, Editor HMS -

"Deep Sleep Operator/ While the Earth Sleeps CD Review"

Many of you will really enjoy the strange world Mr Ehlers has invented with his songs and music.

Imagine if you can the madness that would ensue, if a song-writer and musician came along who then wrote a set of songs based around his own psychotic nightmares. Nightmares about alien abduction, horror and death...

You can't? Well grab yourselves a copy of 'While The Earth Sleeps' and you won't have to imagine any longer, because what we have here is a group of caustic metal tracks that mix this musician's nightmares with the visceral vocal stylings of an Alice Cooper sound-a-like and 'Crimson Idol' era WASP. What's even more interesting is that this whole album is from the mind and musical talents of just one man. Multi-instrumentalist Mark Ehlers is his name and he is the person (who obviously has a problem sleeping) who has taken his own strange, scary dreams and turned them into a wonderful metal album, that gets darker and weirder the more you play it.

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Opening with someone whistling 'Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair' lulls you into a false sense of security, as it is just the beginning of the scathing tales that follow. Soon the happy whistling stops and you're treated to that person being whisked aboard a spaceship and then tortured until they scream themselves hoarse. The music then kicks in and from here on Mr Ehlers, who plays everything in sight, pummels you as his angry songs and lyrics attack and bite. Try 'Teacher Of The Black Arts' with it's 'Chainsaw Charlie'-like riff, 'Feed Them Dirt' with its aggressive, angry vocals, 'They've Entered My Mind' with it's driving guitar solo or 'Don't Take A Knife To A Gun Fight' (great title) and wonder to yourself how Mark Ehlers ever gets to sleep at night, with all this dark imagery running through his subconscious mind.

'While The Earth Sleeps' is a very interesting album with an apocalyptic vision of the future, from a man who needs to dream (I think) of fluffy bunnies rather big man eating aliens. That said, listening to this release thankfully didn't cause me to have bad dreams. So please check the band out for yourselves because many of you will really enjoy the strange world Mr Ehlers has invented with his songs and music.

'While The Earth Sleeps' is available at

Ian Johnson - Rocktopia/Fireworks Magazine UK

" Sleep Operator music review"

Deep Sleep Operator is the moniker for Wisconsin musician Mark Ehlers. His debut disc While the Earth Sleeps is a total DIY project. Except for the mixing, Ehlers handled everything from songwriting to instruments to recording. At first pass, DSO reminded me of BMO, Babylon Mystery Orchestra, the one-man project of Allen Johnson from the deep south, but without the political insurrectionism and doom metal. The foremost reason is that Ehlers, like Johnson, doesn't necessarily sing; it's more like sing-speaking, and in the case of Ehlers with a pronounced snarl.
The lyrical themes of DSO mostly evolve from sci-fi ideas: aliens and apocalyptic endings; the music is interesting mixture of melodic hard rock and heavy metal with a pinch of prog and maybe even a dash of industrial. Ehlers makes extensive use of samples and sound fx, sometimes as segue, sometimes as accent or atmosphere. The main effect of these additions is to produce the sound of a planet being destroyed, an idea Ehlers got from listening to the Kiss song Destroyer where a car is devastated at the end.
Generally, however, Ehlers is pretty good songwriter and rather adept musician. His guitar work is particularly engaging, possibly the best part of While the Earth Sleeps. Despite his vocal style, or because of it maybe, the music is definitely intriguing. After one song, you want to hear the next; you want to find out where Ehlers is going with all this sound. He also creates some curiosity with his song titles, They've Entered My Mind, Tempo of a Frozen Heart, and Don't Take a Knife to a Gunfight, by example. Alternatively, sometimes, at least lyrically speaking, the album's theme isn't all that cohesive. Nevertheless, if While the Earth Sleeps is the intended result of his original vision for the album, then Ehlers' Deep Sleep Operator is certainly a fine achievement, and a rather interesting and entertaining one at that. Recommended. -


Still working on that hot first release.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Deep Sleep Operator

Emerging from seemingly thin air in northern Wisconsin, the mysterious hard rock band Deep Sleep Operator has already made a bold statement with it's over the top, take no prisoners debut album which sounds like a soundtrack to a Sci Fi apocalypse. “While the Earth Sleeps” contains 13 tracks that not only hit the listener's ears with bulldozer like power, but oddly enough, also pulls them into a dream world filled with alien life forms and black magic. Lead singer/guitarist Mark Ehlers sums up the band best with the statement...”When Steven Spielberg has sounds like this.”

Apparently Spielberg's nightmares have an alluring sound when paired up with menacing guitar riffs and sledgehammer like drum beats, the 1st single “Spiritual Warfare” has already gotten international airplay on Slip Stream Radio in the UK as well as the Heavy Decibels radio program on 88.2 southern FM in Melbourne Australia, and the song took the number 5 spot on the top 10 played songs during the week of Oct 8th on KHRN Rock radio in Dallas Texas. “Don't take a knife to a gunfight “ and “Feed them dirt” have also seen international airtime on the Full Metal Racket radio show in Ireland recently where the DJ/host proclaimed DSO “the kings of sci fi metal...”.The show airs on Firebrand rock radio which is currently the 2nd largest independent station in the UK.

Additional international exposure includes “Feed them Dirt” being played on Hard N Heavy radio broadcasting from Italy. “Spiritual Warfare” “Feed them Dirt” “Don't take a knife to a gunfight” and ”Teacher of the Black Arts” have all seen regular rotation on Broken neck Radio in Victoria BC Canada, UpstateRocks.Us radio in North Carolina, Rock365radio,.com, Razor 94.7 FM in Green Bay WI and 94.1 FM WJJO in Madison Wisconsin.

Glowing album reviews have started to pour in to from writers intrigued by the huge sounds and bizarre themes which abound on “While the Earth sleeps.” Writer for, VioletV called the record a “must have” and she set the tone for her review with the statement,”Breaking the Earth” sets the tone for the albums lunacy. Starting with a eerie whistling entrance filled with screams and hysteria. Ehlers' snarls give way to demonic fiends being unleashed, raising havoc onto a city with bizarre sludge madness.”

Craig Hartranft of Dangerdog music reviews gave the album a 4 out of 5 stating “after one song, you want to hear the next: you want to find out where Ehlers is going with all this sound.” Hartranft ends by saying” “Ehlers' Deep Sleep Operator is certainly a fine achievement, and a rather interesting and entertaining one at that. Recommended.”

Deep Sleep Operator has also caught the eyes and ears of some seasoned veterans in the music and film world as well. Shellie Wilkinson, head of the Santa Barbara CA based 11Thand J Artists PR firm caught on very early to the DSO vision for the future, and agreed to help get the word out about this strange new force in the world of hard rock.

A deal was also made with the Nashville TN based company Song and Film for the possible placement of various DSO tracks in upcoming film and television projects.

“The only thing better than hearing the album, is hearing it live..”adds Ehlers, “I have assembled a live band to bring the DSO sound to the world's stage, and on that stage we make glorious spectacles of ourselves....playing Feed them Dirt while staring at my shoes does not interest me,..unless my shoes are on fire.”

Band Members