About a week ago, I was at the New Parkway to see a movie, and I noticed an unsettling hum coming from the other theater. Was that the tritone? The supposed ‘Devil’s Chord?’
It very well may have been, because on the other side of that theater wall was Sleepbomb, preparing for a show.
Sleepbomb has been together for nearly 15 years, but they took a hiatus in 2013. The band’s early work was mostly improvisational, soundscape stuff in nature. However, they’d always liked to incorporate visuals into their work.
After reforming, they decided to start composing scores for films, bringing their doom metal sound to the silver screen. I sat down with band members Tim Gotch (bass) and Charles Hernandez (guitar) to talk about Sleepbomb’s second wave.
The Bay Bridged: So, you’ve made some changes?
Tim Gotch: Yeah, we’ve actually started doing actually structured soundchecks before a show (laughs).
Charles Hernandez: Well, once or twice.
TG: Seriously, though, we used to be an all-improv sort of a thing. We wouldn’t get together that often, and we played, like, one show a year. When we came back from hiatus, we started to really think about what we wanted to do.
CH: Tim and I became more involved. We devoted more time to the band.
TBB: How did you get the idea to start scoring films?
CH: A buddy of mine at a rave one night was putting on films — Tim and I are huge movie nerds — and I was just like, ‘Huh, I think we need that.’
TG: Yeah, I mean, we’ve always had visuals with our music. This seemed like something interesting to do.
TBB: What are some of the films that you’ve done scores for?
TG: For a long time, it was German Expressionist stuff.
CH: Nosferatu, Metropolis, that kind of thing.
TBB: What made you interested in that?
TG: Well, I mean it’s the aesthetics. It’s nothing too deep into the meaning of the films. My background is film, but this is an art thing, not a film thing for me. It’s a matter of personal taste.
CH: Yeah, and the lack of dialogue helps.
TG: Yeah (laughs). These films being made in the ’20s really cuts down on the dialogue. It’s much harder to score a film with dialogue.
“The German Expressionist stuff is great and we love the aesthetics, but we were kids in the ’80s, not the 1920s.”
TBB: You’re performing a score to Conan the Barbarian soon, right?
TG: Yes, Conan is great. Especially for a talkie.
CH: Oh, I love the flow of Conan.
TG: A film has to have a good flow for it to work. Conan has that. It probably helps that Arnold
CH: It was pretty amazing.
TBB: Have you ever tried a film that didn’t work?
TG: Yeah, we did The Hunchback of Notre Dame and it didn’t work. There are parts that are just too slow. It doesn’t work.
TBB: Do you ever get suggestions for films?
CH: Yes! All the time.
TG: So many suggestions…
TBB: Like what?
TG: The Shining, No Country for Old Men…there’s a lot. For us, a lot of the suggestions just won’t work. We’re hoping to do something from the ’70s or ’80s next year. Like Conan, something we grew up with. The German Expressionist stuff is great and we love the aesthetics, but we were kids in the ’80s, not the 1920s.
CH: We’re thinking Conan might become a yearly thing.
TBB: You have a good relationship with the New Parkway?
TG: Oh, yeah. They’ve been great. They’ve made this tenable. Playing in legitimate clubs is kind of a new thing for us (laughs).
TBB: Where else do you like to play?
TG: There are so many good places in the area. I mean, we don’t just do film scores, we also play shows and make records. For those types of gigs, Bottom of the Hill is great. We used to play a lot of weird warehouse shows.
CH: Those were great. Ghost Ship changed that though. But yeah, the metal scene in the Bay is still thriving.
TG: We are big metalheads, but we haven’t always been invited to play in that scene. We’re a little too weird.
CH: I think that’s changing.
TG: Yeah, well, we’ve been playing music for a long time. I’ve been playing since I was 10.
CH: Fourteen for me. I just fell in love with it.
TG: So, we’re going to keep on doing it. Being at the Parkway has helped us expand a bit, but we still want to keep getting out there and playing our shows where music is the driver and the visuals are in service of the music. When we score a film, the music is in service of the visuals.
TBB: It sounds like you’re really dedicated to both.
TG: Yeah, we try to play and get ourselves out there; we’re available and we love to make music.
CH: Cheers to that.
Sleepbomb presents Conan the Barbarian
The New Parkway
August 4, 2019
August 14, 2019