July 8, 2015


Q&A: Gil Sharone on How Chino Moreno's Team Sleep Finally Came Back

Chad Kamershine
Chad Kamershine

Many of Gil Sharone's fans may not even realize how familiar they really are with his work, but over the last 10 years rock and metal enthusiasts worldwide have watched at countless shows as the dedicated percussionist supported everyone from the Dillinger Escape Plan to Marilyn Manson to Fishbone, Stolen Babies and many others. His backbreaking work ethic and stylistic versatility eventually caught the ear of Deftones frontman Chino Moreno, who once made a major digital splash when an early version of his side project Team Sleep's self-titled debut album leaked far and wide in 2005, to lauded critical acclaim. 

As the conversation between Moreno and friends inevitably turned back to Team Sleep, the group found that drummer Zach Hill's schedule was largely dominated by Death Grips obligations. Organically, Gil stepped in to assist on the reunited camp's Woodstock sessions, and we reached out to learn what else may be in store.

With such a busy schedule with Marilyn Manson, are you anticipating much road time with Team Sleep in 2015?

At some point. Our focus right now is the material we have. We have a lot of material. It's just a matter of schedules with Deftones and all the other guys' schedules and stuff. It's not just me being out with Manson, that's a factor, but it's more of just coordinating with everybody and then finding the perfect time to play live. We are definitely going to and we can't wait to. We don't know how full-time of a touring entity it's going to become, but we're definitely going to be playing shows. 

Before we even get to that, it's just nice to know that the band's pretty much reestablishing themselves. It's been a while since Team Sleep has done anything. To come out with this live record, I think it's coming out next week, that's kind of going to get attention back. Then we're going to follow it up with our new original studio stuff, probably an EP first.

Got it. Yeah, I was actually curious about that. How did the Woodstock Sessions come about? Why was that the right precursor to doing the new studio stuff? Was it like you said, you just needed to kind of drum up some interest again?

Well, no. It's funny, and that's a good question. How that happened was some of the guys are good friends with the guys in Woodstock, at a studio called Applehead Recording. Applehead hosts these live sessions called Woodstock Sessions. They've already done... I think the Team Sleep one was the third or fourth one. The next one's going to be with Bad Brains. They mentioned it to the band, like, "Hey, you guys should come out and do this." Kind of just put the bug in the band's ear. That kind of just started the conversation.

The studio stuff and the original material that we've been recording here and there over the past year or two, that was happening anyway. Regardless of the Woodstock Session happening, we were all just getting together and writing and jamming and having fun. Then, this Woodstock thing came up and it was going to be all the original members. Zach Hill was going to be playing drums and I was actually supposed to be out with Marilyn Manson during that time originally. It was all going to kind of work out that the original lineup would do this live thing and play old material and then move forward basically with this new lineup and play the new material.

It ended up that really close to the date of the session Zach Hill wasn't able to make it happen. It worked out that I wasn't going to be on the road with Manson after all. Our tour got pushed back. The Team Sleep guys called me.

What are the chances it would have all come together like that?

Yeah, crazy. I didn't even expect it. The guys called me really with like, three or four days' notice. They were like, "Hey, man. Zach can't do it. Are you able to come and do it?" I jumped in and it was awesome. I'm glad it worked out that way. I had just one of the best experiences I've done musically. It was just a really magical session and moment and cool trip for all of us. It was just badass.

It kind of seems like it's Zach's MO to be unavailable at the very last minute for things he'd previously obligated himself to.

Yeah, well, the Death Grips thing. I heard about that. Yeah, I don't really know any other details or anything deeper than that. It definitely worked out. Basically since me and Chuck Doom as the two new members of the Team Sleep group, Chuck Doom also plays bass in Crosses, we kind of made our introduction to the fans and stuff by doing the Woodstock record and session.

Also letting people know, well, we didn't just come in for that. We've been all hanging and writing together for almost two years, planting those seeds. We just never put the name Team Sleep on it. We didn't think about. We didn't make it this really formal, like, "Yeah, let's jam. This is Team Sleep." It was just like, let's hang, let's write. It happened to be with the members of Todd and Chino and Crook and the guys. It's just like, we started collaborating on music.

What really turned it into "this is Team Sleep" was doing the Woodstock Session because it was just official. It was like, all right. This lineup, we've all been playing. We've already written a bunch of music together, we want to release it in the future, we want to play live. It just makes sense that it just became Team Sleep and fell under that.

Yeah, it sounds great. I like that because that actually knocks another one of the questions that I had out of the park. I was going to try and figure out how you became Team Sleep involved.

Well, with that, there's actually a side story. It goes further back. If you want me to tell you I will.


Years ago...me and Chino have been friends for years. Like back 2006, we were on the road together. I was filling in for Travis Barker in Australia and Deftones were playing the same festival. I just met Chino then and we started hanging. Really kind of vibed musically and have so much in common. Then he started playing me stuff that even then, in 2006, what was going to be kind of new Team Sleep. He looked at me and was like, "I want to get you on some. You got to play on some of this stuff." Of course, I was like, "Hell yeah. Let's do it," and nothing ever happened with it all these years later. I joined Dillinger Escape Plan, my band Stolen Babies was busy, Chino was busy. It never really turned into anything.

Fast forward to, like, two years ago, I'm hanging backstage at at Deftones show. I'm about to leave and Chino goes, "Hey, you need to meet Chuck." He introduced me and Chuck. He's like, "You guys got to get together and play together." A week later me, Chuck and Chino were at Chuck's house jamming. That's how that all happened. That's what got everything rolling.

From then on, once we realized we vibed so hard then it was like, "All right, call Todd," who's Team Sleep Todd. Then Todd came into the mix. Like I said, even then we weren't planning on it to be anything specific. It was just totally fun, so it just naturally all happened.

That's great. I feel like from what I know of your experience, every project you have been instrumental in—no pun intended— have all served a different purpose. The kind of drumming that you'll do for Marilyn Manson, the kind of drumming that you'll do for Dillinger Escape Plan—they're very different things. What do you think you're getting out of Team Sleep that you were never able to get out of those other projects?

Dude, that's a good question, man. Good observation, too. Even just a sidebar, as a musician and my vibe as a player, I've never been the kind of player to hold myself down to one style. Like, I'm only going to be a metal drummer, I'm only going to be a jazz drummer, only a reggae drummer, only a hip hop drummer.

From the beginning, my influences varied so much and I felt everything naturally. Anything I felt, anything I played, it just came out. It had the right authentic kind of touch and feel to it. I'm able to jump around from gig to gig and have fun, but also serve different purposes. As a player I love that.

With Team Sleep I get probably the most freedom of any gig or band I've been in. It's really ... I don't want to say jam, it's not jam-bandy, but there's a lot of room for improv. Coming up with Chuck as a jazz player...a lot of people that might not know my deeper roots and influence, but what makes me the kind of player I am is because my roots are based in jazz. Straight-ahead jazz and bebop and groove music. That improvisational element is very important to keep me entertained and to express as a musician. I get that freedom with Team Sleep.

With Manson, there's no improv at all. It is the show, it's the song, it's note for note. I pretty much play the same parts every night and I love that. That's fun and there's a reason for that and that kind of approach for that gig. With Stolen Babies, it's more structured. I still get a lot of freedom, but it's still structured within a form and an arrangement of a song. With Team Sleep, it's just like, we can go and stretch and be ...

Anything goes. 

Yeah, and we have such a connection too. Chuck and I are so in tune as a rhythm section. We can move and the band will follow. Everyone just works really well together. The way Todd and Chino write together, Chuck and Todd write together. All of us. I could start bringing a groove in, compose a rhythm or orchestrate a cool pattern on the drums. Right away they're just on it with a melody, bringing a melody to that rhythm. Plus, all the different influences that Team Sleep utilizes. It gets heavy. There's definitely heavy moments, but it's all groove-based. Whether it's intense heavy or chill or trip-hoppy or electronic feeling or just kind of shoegazey, there's so many different influences that work with Team Sleep. 

Again, there's that freedom that lets me get out of a box and stretch. It's a really... what's the word I'm looking for? Like, satisfying. It's a satisfying gig to have, an outlet. It gives me a nice platform to pretty much play everything I'm hearing and not be limited. 

It sounds like it was a necessary gap in your catalog that needed to be filled. This sounds like it may be the first time in a long time that you've been able to free-for-all it. 

Totally. A lot of people are asking me when can we see you in this kind of setting. It's exciting to know that there is this band. It does exist. There is a project that's established with a sick lineup. Yes, we can't wait to play live at some point or maybe do some surprise announcements last minute. Just let people know that we happen to be all in the same place together and we're just going to play a show that night. It's going to be spontaneous. It's going to be fun. 

We definitely have a game plan and it's not just this lazy "Oh, we'll get around to it when we can." The wheels are in motion and we want to get everything heard and out there. We can't wait.