“Metroactive Music” – December 2001 // Todd Wilkinson Interviewed

The Sleeper Will Awake

Todd Wilkinson and friends–who just happen to be in the
Deftones–assemble a more-restful Team Sleep

By Darren Keast

BEFORE HIS current tour, Todd Wilkinson had never played his guitar in front of more than a
few friends. In his first full-fledged interview a few months ago, he confessed he was pretty
sure he’d be paralyzed with fear if he ever did make it onto a stage. He wouldn’t even confirm
then that he was a musician per se.

“Yeah, I’ve never played a live show in my life,” he says from his home in Sacramento. “All
I’ve done is make melodies with my guitar on a four-track, and the next thing I know, I’m in
a studio with [multiplatinum metal producer] Terry Date making a record.” And his band, Team
Sleep, plays the Cactus Club in San Jose Tuesday (Dec. 18).

So what is this–the major-label rock industry rolling the dice on a raw talent whose demo tape
won some contest? The Make a Wish Foundation fulfilling a terminal cancer patient’s big dream?
The only reason Wilkinson, a soft-spoken group-home worker with a guitar-playing hobby, is
getting any love at all from the recording industry is that his best friend since high school
is Camillo “Chino” Moreno, lead singer of “nu-metal” torchbearers the Deftones and now one-third
of Team Sleep. It also helps that Wilkinson’s roommate is Deftones DJ Frank Delgado, who in
turn is best friends with DJ Crook, the band’s third member.

“There’s no doubt about it–the attention we’re getting has nothing to do with me and Crook,”
Wilkinson chuckles, but “it’s an opportunity to have people hear our music, so I’m not going
to feel guilty about it.”

The idea for Team Sleep blossomed out of an acoustic reworking the Deftones did of “Be Quiet
and Drive,” a track from their gold record Around the Fur. Moreno enjoyed the respite from the
full-frontal electric guitar onslaught mandatory for most Deftones’ songs, and the gentler
melodies allowed his delicate voice to fill the remaining space.

Also liking the chance to work by himself, Moreno started composing songs with portable
electronic equipment in his hotel room during Deftones tours.

“He puts his rough ideas on a tape and sends them to Krook,” Wilkinson explains. “I send my
own tapes to Crook, with melodies and some basic guitar things, and then he puts down a beat
and takes stuff from both tapes. In theory, Chino then gets the tape back and puts down vocals
from the road, but so far he’s been too busy.”

Moreno describes Team Sleep’s sound as “droney” and influenced by British trip-hop moodsters
Massive Attack. So far, the only two tracks available are instrumentals from the Team Sleep
website (http://www.teamsleep.com/): “Kool Aid,” a sparse number with real drum sounds, and the
more processed and programmed-sounding “Ligeia.”

“Crook uses his turntable on both,” Wilkinson explains, “but you’d never know it, because
there’s no scratching.” The effect is similar to his friend’s DJing technique with the
Deftones, which Delgado describes as spinning for atmosphere: “Like he was listening to what
we had done for ‘Ligeia,’ and he goes, ‘This needs something else.’ So he walks over to his
record collection–he has thousands of records, most of them really weird–and grabs one with
crowd cheering on it, like from a bullfight or something. The rhythm of the crowd chanting
fits right with the track.”

The ambient feeling of both cuts is a definite divergence for Moreno, but given the Deftones’
particularly rabid and well-informed fan base, Team Sleep is assured of moving a respectable
number of copies of whatever they release. Wilkinson seems bemused by the rise of his friends’
band from humble beginnings in Sacramento in the early ’90s, playing in front of a few hundred
people every weekend to magazine covers, Grammies and teenage fans who document his every move

“I even heard there were some pictures of Chino’s kids on the Internet,” Wilkinson says.
“Someone tracked down photos of them somehow–that’s some serious shit. I guess the Internet
has brought out the little stalker in everyone.”

He takes in stride the reversal of fortune his friends have experienced, going from cooks at
Mexican restaurants and hole-ridden Vans sneakers to world tours and hole-ridden Vans sneakers.

“It’s a trip to me, because when we were in high school, there were always rich kids, and
compared to them, we didn’t have any money,” Wilkinson recalls. “So we had kinda messed up
clothes you know, but in a way, we were like, ‘Fuck that–I’m better than everybody. Who cares
about money?’

“It was kind of a conceited attitude, too, but we always felt like, ‘I’ll do whatever I want to
do.’ So to see them blow up, it’s not like they got bigger, it was like everything else got
smaller. Like a gold record–that’s not even a big deal anymore. Or like Grammys? Whatever,
fuck it.”