The Sleepyheads
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The Sleepyheads

Manila, National Capital Region, Philippines | SELF

Manila, National Capital Region, Philippines | SELF
Band Folk Avant-garde


This band hasn't logged any future gigs

This band hasn't logged any past gigs




For some reason Richman's geekiness and almost kitschy blue-collar fashion sense translated into a crazy-angle but intelligent coolness that made sense because it was closest to who they were. There is a restlessness about them, a willingness to remain children in a world that demands that adults be adults. They smay small but happening venues like Saguijo and Gweilos. - Pulp Magazine - September 2005 (Print)

"Beat Generation: 30 Indie Bands About To Become Famous"

The drummer for these minimalists plays standing up. His kit: A floor tom, a snare, a lone cymbal. A Maureen Tucker of the Velvet Underground? Exactly. Bassist Erick Encinares has four strings on his bass but only uses two of them because it's too "complicated." Bratty rock visionary? Exactly. Sounds like: Any band who's influenced by The Velvet Underground is bound for greatness. Plus, their lyrics are disjointed cool, and the cover art for their debut album Tuneless Moaning is smacking transgressional art. - FHM - May 2006 (Print)

"For Your Ears Only"

Dong Abay meets Lou Reed meets The Clash - FHM November 2011 - print

"Band of Outsiders"

Call me jaded, but nothing much about the current music scene gets a rise out of me anymore.

Even so, I had to sit up and take notice when I heard that Sandwich vocalist Raimund Marasigan and drummer Mike Dizon had allegedly “mauled” Sleepyheads bassist Erick Encinares at the FHM Sexiest Party, an otherwise humdrum corporate rock gig at the World Trade Center last July 9.

“Woo-hoo!” pretty much sums up my first reaction (complete with Homer Simpson-both-arms-in-air gesture). Rock ‘n’ roll!

What does that say about the state of the local music scene when the only reaction an admittedly minor incident such as this gets is the equivalent of schoolboys chanting “Fight! Fight! Fight!,” then muttering disgustedly when the hoped-for fisticuffs fail to materialize?

In fact, it was enough to distract a local TV news team from the dancing babes onstage and subsequently send local music and entertainment websites a-twitter, a welcome change from the 24/7 coverage of Michael Jackson’s death. (I mean, enough already.)

Accounts vary, but from what I can gather, the hapless Encinares was taking photos of said dancing babes when he was allegedly first doused with some kind of liquid, then pounced on by Marasigan and Dizon. Sandwich management was quick to deny that any kind of “mauling” took place, though they did admit to the dousing. FHM was understandably mum on the subject (perhaps saving exclusive pics for their next issue?)

In any case, the aftermath was somewhat humorously illustrated (unintentionally, I’m sure) in a local entertainment website with a picture of Marasigan in leather jacket and Encinares sporting a pair of plastic-rimmed eyeglasses apparently held together with masking tape. (Whether this was the result of the “mauling” or he really wears his glasses like that was not made clear.)

Dude! This is what passes for punk rock these days. It’s a far cry from the old days when broken gin and Robitussin bottles littered the stage.

After the initial cheap thrill, however, my next reaction was one of puzzlement since, as far as I knew, both the alleged mauler and maulee were rock nerds who in other circumstances might have been comparing their CD collections and discussing the relative merits of Fender vs. Gibson guitars rather than doing anything remotely confrontational. Too much Red Bull, perhaps?

In any case, as a music journalist, I was glad to have a “news peg” on which to hang this story, since the Sleepyheads are, at this very moment, poised to unleash upon the world at large their second album, titled “Malnutrition of Love.”

I had been bowled over by their 2005 debut album “(Don’t Let Our) Tuneless Moaning (Go To Waste),” a work obviously indebted to the willful minimalism of bands such as the Velvet Underground, the Feelies and the Modern Lovers, and the band’s music video for “Positive For Negative” featuring Louie Cordero’s brilliant animated work. (Cordero also did the striking cover illustration.)

It had come seemingly out of nowhere, but had obviously been incubated in some dark garage or bedroom and produced with the bare minimum of equipment. More importantly, it was totally different from what any other local band was doing.

Who were these people? And what alternate universe did they come from?

The liner notes offered a clue:

“We’re probably not standard cool. We don’t take drugs. We’re probably wimps… Our only fetish is the rusty, dirty-clean guitar and the PLAK-PLAK-PLAK sound of our rudimentary drums… We’re probably naked—yes, that’s the word in our sound, just like the songs and singing are.”

My quest to learn more took me deep into the bowels of San Mateo, Rizal, where the Sleepyheads have their secret headquarters/practice studio, not far from a Johnny’s Fried Chicken place (“The Fried of Marikina”).

Two days after the incident, Encinares was understandably reluctant to talk about it, having totally wussed out by all accounts, although I noted that he was still sporting the masking tape on his glasses.

“That’s over with as far as I’m concerned,” was all he would say about the matter.

“I’m a fan of Sandwich,” he added, although I couldn’t tell whether he was being ironic or he really meant it. Probably both.

The band—Encinares on bass, overcaffeinated vocalist John Jayvee del Rosario on abbreviated drum kit, and new guy Alex Paita on guitar—were banging out their versions of Television’s “See No Evil” and Big Star’s “Thirteen” in the cramped studio, insulated with urethane foam and egg cartons, its only décor a painting of Andy Warhol on the far wall.

A cursory examination did nothing to allay my initial suspicion that the band members were total music geeks -- a species I know well since I’m one of them, and so are most of my friends. A desktop was littered with CDs -- Television, Talking Heads, T. Rex, Richard Hell and the Voidoids. There were music mags on a shelf, and pride of place given to a vinyl copy of “Rock and Roll with Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers” -- an album that Howlin’ Dave (R.I.P.) wore out on his radio show in the early ’80s.

(The band had, in fact, taken their name from Richman’s “Wake Up, Sleepyheads.”)

As the interview progressed, Encinares continued to dig out more albums: “Crazy Rhythms” by the Feelies, “Future Days” by Can, the Robert Quine bootleg of the Velvet Underground live, even a box set of the post-Lou Reed Velvets.

The Q and A was also periodically interrupted by discussions of music geek trivia, such as whether Elijah Wood was the appropriate choice to play Iggy Pop in an upcoming movie, or how the actor who played Joy Division singer Ian Curtis in “Control” had played the Fall singer Mark E. Smith in “24-Hour Party People” previously.

Occasionally, they talked about themselves, mostly negative statements such as “We don’t know how to make a hit” and “We don’t know what ’radio-friendly’ means.”

Appropriate, since it’s what they don’t know and don’t do that distinguishes the Sleepyheads.

They don’t write Tagalog lyrics, for instance, preferring what they call "bootleg English" because they feel it’s more "rock’n’roll".

"Actually, if there was another band playing the kind of music we like to hear, we’d rather just listen than play,” says Del Rosario, at 38 the oldest member of the band.He and Encinares had met almost 10 years ago through a common friend: Del Rosario had lent him a Jonathan Richman tape, to which he had added one of his own songs. Encinares thought it was part of the album. A common obsession with Jonathan Richman and the Velvet Underground led to the formation of the Sleepyheads in 2000. In their self-composed band bio, they wrote: “(They) wanted to add rock and roll fun to their Third World lives (misery, poverty, crime, pollution, chaos plus heartache and musical boredom).”

Together with a series of guitarists, the pair honed cover versions of their favorite songs and composed a series of original downbeat loser anthems (“I’m Not Good Enough,” “Janitor Fate,” “Underdogs of Sunshine”) that eventually came out as their first album in 2005.

The Sleepyheads also began to perform live, although the band members confess that they’re uncomfortable being part of a “scene,” preferring to stay outside the mainstream and outside the “alternative” as well. In other words, continuing to exist in their own private musical universe as they have for the past ten years, nurturing the purity of their vision.

In spite of their contrarian notions, the band has managed to build a following in underground/bohemian circles, counting among them painters Romeo Lee and Manuel Ocampo, who did the cover for “Malnutrition of Love.” (This is another coup of sorts for the band, considering that Ocampo’s previous album covers include Beck’s “Odelay.”)

Occasionally, the band ventures out of their hole long enough to play a gig, sometimes at the old Mayric’s (which is apparently called Sazi’s now.) Their sets are heavy on covers, such as the Cramps, Talking Heads, the Only Ones and of course the Velvets.

For their originals, the band hews close to their rigorous, original aesthetic.

“We want to maintain it as raw, minimalist and low-fi as possible, but fun,” says Del Rosario. “We have a lot of one-chord songs.”

If anything, “Malnutrition of Love” is a logical (d)evolution from “Tuneless Moaning.”

If the songs are darker, it’s probably because four years later, the loser of “Tuneless Moaning” is still “Desperate and Dateless,” and “Dreaming and Waiting 1000 Years.” There’s a darker, more cynical edge to songs such as “Problems are Depressed,” “Rat Eaters” and “Misery’s Laughter,” though they’re still in the “urban dystopia” mold of classic proto-punk—but with an unmistakable Third World flavor.

It’s the playing, however, that belies the relentless darkness of the lyrics and subject matter. Droning guitars, rudimentary chords and motorik beat carry the underlying joy, and—dare we say it—fun, in the Sleepyheads’ music. •

- The Philippine Daily Inquirer (Newspaper) - Eric Caruncho

"New Wave Revolutionaries"

Leopold Stokowski once said, “A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.” While most people see music and visual art as separate entities, The Sleepyheads, often serving as the opening act in Manila’s premier galleries such as Silverlens and Mo’s space, construct their songs to serve as the soundtrack to the art that surrounds them. Their raw low-fi beats and cheeky lyrics that address frustration of living life at the margins are pure voltage. Their songs—shocking, humorous, fearless—arouse the senses, provoke dreams and images, and most importantly, foster a sense of curiosity and wonder. Thus, much like Banksy’s or Black Le Rat’s stealthily sprayed on images, the controversial sculptures of Ai Weiwei, or the experimental music of Laurie Anderson, The Sleepyheads are all about subverting the status quo and breaking down the barriers of a society steeped in self-consciousness and material concerns.

On stage, the members of the band, John Jayvee del Rosario (drums, vox), Erick Encinares (bass) and Rico Entico (guitar), beat, strum and sing songs of lust, longing and liberation from the frustrations of modern urban life. They aren’t just guys in a band—these men are artists.

So entrenched in the local art scene, these outsiders have not just acquired the moral support of their fellow artists, but also their skills and talents. Their three album covers were designed by Louie Cordero, Manuel Ocampo (who also painted the inside cover of Beck’s ‘Odelay’album) and the legendary Roberto Chabet, respectively. In fact, Roberto Chabet, pioneer of the conceptual art group Shop 6, said that the band’s music “had DADAIST touches in their cut-up lyrics” and titling the band’s music as “dressed down rock.”

But before anyone romanticizes the notion that these 'artists' and a 'musicians' are simply free spirits running on passion than discipline, hard work and patience, then The Sleepyheads (and the rest of the local art community) will prove you wrong. In fact, the band has been playing together, and independently producing their work for over a decade. Back in the 1980s, John Jayvee and Erick met through a friend while at Trinity College. They quickly bonded over a common love for bands like The Velvet Underground, The Talking Heads, The Modern Lovers and The Shaggs, they decided to team up and name their band after Jonathan Richman’s “Wake Up Sleepyheads”. Although they played music together throughout the late 1980s to the 1990s, they officially formed The Sleepyheads in 2000. Rico Entico joined the group a few years later, thus completing this merry band of ‘art rebels and outsiders.'

Eleven rock ‘n’ roll years later, the band continues to stay true to their mission of preserving their raw art-fueled avant-garde approach to their work and proving that “music is universal, rock ‘n’ roll is forever, and that dreams matter.” With two albums under their belt, ‘(Don't Let Our) Tuneless Moaning (Go To Waste)’ (2006) and ‘Malnutrition Of Love’ (2010), and a third album set to be released in September of 2011, the band has not only proven that “dreams matter”, but that dreams can indeed come true. - CNN iReport

"Album Review: Avante Garage: Wrecknroll by The Sleepyheads"

Ask any casual listener whose ears have been spoiled by the gloss of mainstream recordings what they think of “Happy Guilty,” the opener of The Sleepyheads’ third album, Avant Garage: Wrecknroll and their answer shouldn’t be far from this: “Ang gaspang.”

It is. The lo-fi aesthetics boldly announce their presence from the get-go.

It’s uneven and proudly rough-on-the-edges, like some scraggly ringleader of some bike gang.

But while it may sound like that, we wouldn't describe the record as lacking in polish. The rawness of Avant Garde is part of its appeal.

Unpretentiously indie, we’d call it; a record that shows its charms after a couple of listens.

If not the fuzzy guitars bubbling under the surface, “The Schopenhauer Soother (Bone Seducer)” and its mad-dash drum beat should get you bobbing as the singer goes “Live so much, die all the time!”

The next track, “I Want To Live” mellows it down a little to match the song’s reflective lines: “I want to live/ My soul must not be sick/ I want to beat hostility and hardship.”

Amidst the jangly guitar-playing, the lively drumming, and wobbly bass lines, you'd get the sense that the trio is just rockin’ out, but the issues that the band tackles aren’t superficial at all. “Save Me From Manila” and “Crazy World” are—dare we say it— partly existential in nature.

“I’m a carabao there, a human being here in Cambodia/ Save me from Manila” goes the former. The latter is even more desperate: “Crazy moving, crazy world, I can’t live; life itself hurts/ You’re either led to boredom, burden or death.”

Though the themes seem heavy, the band never makes it a point to be too furrowed-brows serious. In fact, the band’s punk attitude shines through, thanks to the irreverence and honesty they bring forth to the table when dealing with issues of love and existence.

“Your Beauty (Is My Problem),” a folksy ditty about admiration, goes "Why is this love so painful and sweet/ My heart bangs its head whenever you I meet?" Meanwhile, “Stick with the Enemy” a fast, rockin' and rollin' garage tune, deals a little about “ungrateful lovers” and musings about being a masochist for romance.

Our favorite track though is "Fifty-teen," which just might be our poster boy for this album. It goes "Fifty year old teenager! High school heaven's still there!" which is exactly the kind of attitude that the album carries: lively, and fun, in spite of factors that might have caused otherwise.

"Best Album Cover Art"

"Their debut album’s cover was by Louie Cordero. This time round, the lo-fi trio has no less than Manuel Ocampo to make the artwork for their sophomore LP. Quirky, idiosyncratic like the band’s music..."
Erwin Romulo - QLE Awards - Young Star (The Philippine Star) - The Philippine Star

"Q&A with local indie trio The Sleepyheads"

"Elusive, low-key, and passionate about their music, the group has stayed true to their avant-garde approach to their work despite being in a pop-infested industry."
Monica Barretto - -


1) (Don't Let Our) Tuneless Moaning (Go To Waste)
Date released: 2006
Cover art by Louie Cordero
Strictly DIY: Recorded in bedrooms, living rooms with minimal equipment
Style: Raw, dark, funny, Richman-esque heartbreak songs, ‘bootleg English’
Themes: Reverse-career rebellion, globalization as garage rock, the media,
disillusionment with the modern world, third world issues, poverty
To note: positive reviews, most notably from Filipino artist Roberto Chabet who enjoyed the band’s ‘Dadaist touches with their cut up lyrics’ and calling it ‘dressed down rock.

2) Malnutrition of Love
Date Released: 2010
Cover art by Manuel Ocampo
Style: Darker than the first album, politically incorrect, humorous
Themes: Self-inflicted insanity, parody on the glamour of gloom, defiantly primitive
To note: Artist Manuel Ocampo also painted the inlay of Beck’s ‘Odelay’ album; recorded in a studio in a "just-bash-it-out-and- record-'em" style to capture the band’s frenetic sound; Alex Paita and BJ Esber also played guitars on this album.
3) Avant Garage: Wrecknroll
Date Released: September 17, 2011
Cover art by Roberto Chabet and Gary Ross Pastrana
Style Reflective, mature, madcap music, tongue-in-cheek
Themes: Love, art, pain, life, and rockin’ out


Other releases (DIY cover albums):
Sleepy Lovers (Modern Lovers Tribute Album)
Velvet Underground Tribute Album
Sleepydeads - mix of 80s music



John Jayvee and Erick first met at Trinity College through a common friend. Bonding over a common love for bands like The Velvet Underground, The Talking Heads, The Modern Lovers and The Shaggs, they decided to team up and name their band after Jonathan Richman’s “Wake Up Sleepyheads”. Jayvee and Erick officially formed The Sleepyheads in 2000 and after Rico Entico joined the group in 2009, this m...erry band of ‘art rebels and outsiders’ was finally complete. Eleven rock ‘n’ roll years later, the band continues to stay true to their mission of preserving their raw art-fueled avant-garde approach to their work and proving that “music is universal, rock ‘n’ roll is forever, and that dreams matter.” With three albums under their belt, ‘(Don't Let Our) Tuneless Moaning (Go To Waste)’ (2006), ‘Malnutrition Of Love’ (2010), and 'Avant Garage: Wrecknroll' (2011), the band has not only proven that “dreams matter”, but that dreams can indeed come true.

All three ‘Sleepyheads’ are artists in their own right. Therefore, it is no surprise that the band’s music and performances are driven by a love for art as well as their dedication to the local art community. In fact, The Sleepyheads, often playing in art galleries and exhibitions such as Mo’s Gallery and Silverlens, the band aspires to create music that would serve as “the soundtrack” for the paintings, sculptures, installations and performances of their fellow Filipinos. Their allegiance and love towards the Pinoy creative community is mutual: Legendary artists Louie Cordero, Manuel Ocampo (who also made Beck’s ‘Odelay’ cover) and Roberto Chabet designed the band’s first, second and third album covers, respectively.

Their third album, 'Avant Garage: Wrecknroll' was released in September 2011. The album's cover art was done by Roberto Chabet and curated by Gary Ross Pastrana. Their latest album also comes with a comic book by Louie Cordero. The Sleepyheads also released another album, a live recording, featuring purely raw and low-fi music dedicated to the music of The Modern Lovers, The Shaggs and The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Despite being in the industry for over a decade, the band continues to work towards fulfilling their rock ‘n’ roll dream of being “a band that would matter, draw inspiration from their heroes, stay true to their vision, and always play for the love and fun of music.”