INTERVIEW: SLEEPING BODY (PART II)
Photo: Justine DeMetrick
In the second installment of this interview with Jeff Hunt and Jeff Leeper of Sleeping Body, we talk about their tour of the east coast, the recording of their Awaken EP, and their inevitable break-up.
Who were some of the first people you corresponded with across the country?
Jeff Hunt: There were the cats in Nebraska that ended up putting a song of ours on a compilation.
Jeff Leeper: It’s All About…4 Bands I Like.
I have the comp sitting here in front of my stereo.
JH: What’s the name of the label?
Family Man Records
JH: Family Man, that’s it! That was like the first thing we ever recorded, the song “Bleeding Heart Shit.”
The only reason I’ve kept this comp is for that song. It might be my favorite Sleeping Body song.
JL: That was a song Justin wrote. It’s kind of ironic you say that about the song because we never liked playing it. We always cut it from the setlist. (Editors’ note: The Phleg Camp on the comp is great as well. I just wanted that to be known)
So how did the connection with Tonie Joy and Vermin Scum come about?
JH: We used Book Your Own Fucking Life to book the Texas and Midwest part of our tour. But we sent a tape to Tonie and he liked what he heard, so he set up the New England leg of our tour. We did that first tour that included Houston, then we made our way up through Colorado and Wyoming and started our way across to Minneapolis. At some point, the van was getting more and more beat up. We had a flat tire, then we had a tire come off the van on the highway. The van was finally done in Nebraska and that coincided with me, Jeff, Carl, and Justin thinking Chad was too damned much to handle. Half of us went on hitchhiking to the shows that we would have played but had to cancel. We were in Indianapolis. I don't think it was the show we were supposed to play, but Bikini Kill played, and we met them. They told us their show in Dallas got canceled, so we thought to put on a show for them in Fort Worth when we got back. The show was in Carl’s parent’s garage. I think that changed a lot of people in Fort Worth. A significant number of people started doing bands. But that’s when Tonie said he’d change the dates for our east coast tour and asked us to do something on Vermin Scum. The recording was part of our trip out there.
What made you decide to give it another go with Chad?
JH: In hindsight, I think we realized the awesomeness we had in the band was worth giving it another shot. We swallowed our pride over the personality clashes or conflicts with Chad and realized the crazy opportunity we had to finish the tour with Tonie Joy setting it all up for us. Carl and Chad were kind of co-band leaders. They did the most and were the most passionate and wrote most of the lyrics. But that's not to say that JL, I and Justin weren't a huge part of it. JL did a lot of reaching out and sent our demo tape to Tonie Joy. You know. But I feel like, in hindsight, those two, Carl and Chad did a lot.
What kind of experience was the east coast tour?
JH: At the risk of sounding cheesy, I felt like I had found my people. Everyone from Richmond to Western Massachusetts, I felt like this is where I need to be. Since the van broke down, how did we get out there? Do you remember, JL?
JL: We took your Ford Escort station wagon and I had a little hatchback.
JH: Nice! We met people in Annapolis who were from DC. We met some Baltimore cats. Some people in New York and New Jersey like Jon Hiltz. There were kids from Little Rock who were going to school in Western Massachusetts. At some point, we knew the band couldn’t go on, so we decided to break up a second time and it was probably because of Chad, again. Then, the four of us minus Chad moved in with Tonie Joy. We loved Chad, but it got easier to love him the farther we got away from him.
JL: After the band, Chad was a good friend of mine. I worked with him for 10 years after that. He died driving a Vespa about four blocks from where I am now.
JH: I think we all realized it had run its course.
What about the packaging for Awaken? The combination of the texts and artwork is still pretty striking in the present day.
JH: My recollection is it was Carl's idea. We wanted to involve other artists – mostly from Fort Worth – and make them a part of this creation. The “This is Bullshit” text on the cover was written by Steven Ford, one of the twins from Voice of Reason. He wrote it on a styrofoam cup after a show. I don’t know what he was writing about, but we put it on the record.
Was the plan to start a new band after moving in with Tonie?
JH: It was March of ‘93. Me, JL, Carl, and Steven from Voice of Reason who moved out there with us fucked around with the idea to do a band and nothing really happened. Maybe we tried something two or three times in the basement at Tonie’s house.
JL: Now I remember what you’re talking about. That basement was a hellhole.
Is this the house Tonie Joy lived in that was sliding off a hill?
JH: Yes, that's that's the one.
How long did you last there?
JH: Until the house got sold. About a year.
Did you all go back to Texas?
JL: I went to Amarillo. Steven and David from Voice of Reason had a house there.
JH: I went back home to Fort Worth and worked at Pizza Hut for a minute. A kid who lived with us in Maryland came to join me and after two nights at Pizza Hut, we were like, “Fuck Fort Worth! Let’s get out of here!”, which is a common theme in my life. We took off for San Diego because we thought that's where we wanted to be. We came up to Gilman to see Jawbreaker and it was the night of the Northridge earthquake. We were in San Diego for a couple of weeks and remembered stopping in Amarillo on our way there and having such a good time. That’s how we ended up in Amarillo. Carl had got rid of most of his possessions and moved into a Buddhist monastery in DC. He was writing us postcards from there and although Carl didn’t ask for this, JL and I felt we needed to get Carl the fuck out of there. So the two of us drove to DC and got Carl out and brought him back to Amarillo. Justin was dating someone in DC and moved there and then ended up going to Washington State and been there ever since. Probably about 10 years ago or so when I was still on Facebook I found him. I told him there was a line of 15 people who wanted to talk to him. I asked if I could give out his contact info and that freaked him out, so he went back into hiding.