The Sleepytime Gorilla Museum opened its doors to the public in 1916, only to show them a well-managed fire. Its doors were closed shortly thereafter and remained so for the rest of the century. Almost. The last year of the 20th century found the improbable trio of words once again adorning a placard posted outside a derelict urban building, with the addendum- "No Humans Allowed." Indeed, the awkward re-inaugural movements were witnessed by a lone banana slug (Ariolimax dolichophallus)-- a suitable beginning for a group that would soon shelter Oakland California's hindmost interpreters of Anti-Humanist literature. Their incessant travels since 2001 have brought new life to the Movement. Like their namesake and its instigators (Futurist Lala Rolo and Black-Mathematician John Kane) the new museum embraces the essential weakness of the Movement. But also like their predecessors they reject the elitism of the avant-garde in favor of a reckless populism: They are entertainers. Though not without humor, their often wide-ranging musical and theatrical choices are rarely ironic. This sincerity extends to a passionate craftsmanship, as evidenced by:
1. The LIVE SHOW, a costumed festival of hyperventilating self-derangement, which has yet to include much of a puppet show, but has included human performers of varying stiffness (see Ink Boat).
2. The ALBUMS- Grand Opening and Closing (2001 Seeland/Chaosophy), a collection of boisterous laments for the failure of the millennial apocalypse; Live (2003 Sickroom), a collage of mishaps and singularities from various stages; and Of Natural History (2004 Mimicry), a setting, in part, of a debate between two contradictory pillars of 20th C. Anti-Humanism: The Futurists versus the Unabomber.
3. The INSTRUMENTS, many of which are homemade creations of bassist/producer/mechanic Dan Rathbun: The Slide-piano Log, the Percussion Guitar, the Electric Pancreas, the Vatican, & the Pedal-action Wiggler; or rare: Autoharp, Glockenspiel, Toy Piano, & Viking Rowboat.
4. The ROAD approached as (A) a place of potential learning: the bloody history of our doomed nation, its warm and varied current inhabitants- our hosts and their regional splendors, and (B) a scar which conducts us in our lumbering Green Bus into the temples of Nature: Forests, swamps, deserts, mountains, and coasts, with national parks and rest stops alike as places of reverence and study, sources of sound and vision, many of which appear on Of Natural History.
5. The FOOD, prepared on the bus kitchen in large pots, in quantities befitting a seven+ person crew, mixing local ingredients with reliable spices, beans, and the "other black meat"- coffee.
The Museum are unified in these various crafts by the simplicity of their opposition to rock music. In the words of John Kane, "Nothing should be left undone which might contribute to its demise." To this end they employ a most tried and proven destructive force: rock. ROCK AGAINST ROCK. In this they were preceded by Oakland bands Idiot Flesh and Charming Hostess, which brought together Museum members Dan Rathbun, Carla Kihlstedt (violin+), and Nils Frykdahl (guitar+). SGM's initial writings and first shows were with drummer David Shamrock. Drummer Frank Grau, who co-released the first album and managed the band until recently, instigated touring in 2001. Industrial percussion-tornado Moe! Staiano brought his visceral spontaneity from the inception until late 2004. New life has arrived with drummer/orator Matthias Bossi, who took the throne on New Year's 2004, and blossomed like a menacing jungle flower. Finally, with the Of Natural History tour of fall 2004, Michael Mellender, player of percussion and ALL THINGS, rounded out the Museum with his singular brand of hyper-kinetic instrumental dysfunction. The group writing process is at a new level of collaboration and the next album's songs are well underway. More U.S. touring is imminent. A European tour hovers. The stalwart Museum crew-- Olivia Oyama (sound/photography/field recording) and Allen Willner (lights/delicious stews)-- are ready for the road. 2005 saw the release of The Face, A DVD collaboration with Shinichi Momo Koga, The Last Human Being. A single 45 on Moe!'s label (Dephine Knormal) featuring SGM, Cheer-Accident, The Ex and Voodoo Muzak was also released.
In January of 2006, amidst a clutter of cheesecake and frozen champagne, SGM singed the eyebrows of Andreas Katsambas. Who threatened them with a record deal? And assured the Museum that his label has been and would continue to be called The End Records? The very same Andreas Katsambas. With his pen and on his paper, on January 3rd, the Museum, as a formal entity, signed with this emminently appropriate label whose commitment to the forthcoming apocalypse is without question. Ambugaton.