I remember feeling different than the norm as a teenager. The year was 2002 and I was still in my home town of Misison Viejo, California. That’s me on the right side of the picture. I was a junior in high school and I had found my own personal in-group, the stoners, rejects, and social outcasts who spent their time arguing about which band best encompassed the late 90s industrial scene or discussing why the Downward Spiral was the perfect album. In my mind, we were the degenerate elite; the ones who didn’t need to conform to the rest of the world because we could see through it all and knew that we didn’t want to be accepted anyway.
Within this group of teenagers, I was introduced to music that completely changed how I viewed the world: David Bowie, Gary Numan, Tool, The Velvet Underground, Joy Division. Songs like “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” and “Aenema” spoke to my feeling of disconnection from the world. For the first time I saw that I wasn’t crazy after all and that there were others out there felt the same as I did.
I remember lying in bed, listening to music that my mom thought was evil, and losing myself to the songs of isolation and feeling better knowing that I wasn’t alone. I would daydream about being up on stage, telling my story and having others relate to me and having that connection that only music could create.
Around this time I was getting more and more into 80s new wave and post punk and I became insistent on learning the keyboard. I looked around for a long time and eventually happened upon an old casio. I would spend hours in my room searching through records for any semblance of a keyboard part and then do my best to learn it. Every time I could play the part on the record with the cheap keyboard in my hands, I felt as if I was replicating magic. Playing along with those records connected me with the world of my idols and cemented my drive to become a rock star…
Fast forward about a decade or so. I had been experimenting and writing with Propellerhead’s Reason software since my early 20s and I was finally getting decent at it. I would tinker for hours until some semblance of a song was created. The idea of becoming a rock star never quite died, but realistically I knew that if anything ever became of my music I would be happy and that its creation was for my own benefit.
By 2015, I was living outside of Phoenix, AZ, and I had written over 50 songs with empty spaces for vocals. I placed an ad on Craigslist to find anyone who might relate and identify with my catalog of ideas, though I knew that it was a long shot. The Phoenix music scene seemed to be over-saturated with stuff that I just wasn’t interested in creating. Roger answered the ad and through some back and forth emails, I sent Roger a basic idea that I had called “Desert Sunrise”. The song was returned within the week with a great vocal melody and hook and through some work this would become our first demo song, “Sleep Forever”. To be honest, I was completely giddy that with no outside direction from myself, Roger knew what I had intended for each part of the song. He knew where space was left for a verse and where the chorus should go. We collaborated on a few more songs and then Roger introduced James as a possible bassist and co-lyricist for the band. I didn’t know it at the time, but the three of us all had either previous or current experience with addiction, depression, recovery, and isolation. These themes would become the foundation of the songs found on our first EP, When We Were.
Through creating music together, I knew that I had found my new “in-group” with the rest of Sleepwar. I still find great bliss in getting lost in music and I do still crave that dream of connecting people and bringing joy to others in the way that my idols brought joy and meaning to me. I have been writing music for over a decade and through hard work and experience I can now say that I am proud to be an artist and to be part of something that is bigger than I ever could be.
I am joined by the other members of Sleepwar in looking forward to creating something truly special. We hope you join us on that musical journey.
If you’d like to hear the most recent milestone of that journey, click here to listen to Sleepwar’s latest release, When We Were.
Thank you for being a listener. We always like to hear stories from our fans so don’t hesitate to contact us!
Tim Woodbridge, keyboards and production
P.S. When it comes to music, I’m still down to have a fake argument over whether or not LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver beats This Is Happening, though nowadays I will admit that there is merit to all styles of music (even country music). And when I meet someone and we can discuss the intricacies of why a song is so good, why that crash and then downbeat breakdown 2/3 of the way through St. Vincent’s “Your Lips Are Red” takes me a million miles away into bliss, why the vocal harmonies and lyrical styling of the band Local Natives transcend them into something remarkable, I remember that feeling I had as a teenager of getting lost in something that seems inconsequential to others. But then I remember that anything worthwhile in life oftentimes seems inconsequential to those who will never understand their meaning and that’s ok with me.
“Just turn on with me, and you’re not alone Gimme your hands, ’cause you’re wonderful”