When it comes to cock talk, Clint Sleeper doesn’t shy away. After his experimental multi-instrumental one-man project, Praying For Greater Portland (P4GP), was victorious in SHiNDiG 2012, we talk a bit about the rock, but more about the cock. After 13 weeks of 27 bands battling for top honours, host Ben Lai announces the official winner and Discorder finds the least chaotic corner of the Railway Club to chat with the man behind P4GP.
“I’m really stoked. I’m amped,” says the Reno, Nevada, transplantee, in a subdued tone, perhaps indicative of shock. “I like this bar. It’s got a funny reputation. Every time I was here, Ben Lai was really great. [His] dick jokes were really great. I mean penis jokes … Is penis more acceptable?”
Sleeper, who flocked north in August last year to begin his Masters of Fine Arts at Simon Fraser University, first heard about SHiNDiG from his friends in the band Flash Summer, who suggested he sign up. Ironically, P4GP played against them—and won—on the competition’s first night. “That was weird, but I still love them a lot.”
He wasn’t necessarily expected to win, facing stiff competition in the final from Greenback High and Teapot Hill, who placed second and third respectively. “I’m probably pretty lucky, to be quite honest with you. These songs are kind of weird and maybe a little bit different, and I guess that’s what the judges were after.”
With music obscure as his moniker, Sleeper tells us the story behind the name, taken from a bumper sticker he saw in Portland, Oregon.
“There was a man who moved [there] with this idea that he was going to sanctify the city. And of course, the way to sanctify the city is to make bumper stickers,” he jokes. Evidently those bumper stickers got around and covered cars for a short time. “As we can see, it was probably not all that successful. Portland was probably not sanctified, but I just like the idea of going somewhere and doing so in such a strange, obscure way.” Like the name, Sleeper sees himself as just weird enough to fit a niche, describing his music as “moody guitar rock.”
The incentive to win SHiNDiG isn’t just for bragging rights, but also a prize pack that includes free music labour, band merch, spots in future music showcases, and 20 hours of free studio time.
“It’s not a career,” he says, “but I’ve had an idea for an album for a while so it’ll be nice to get some time to work on that … I’m really looking forward to making more music.” He won the first round playing “Atilla The Hun With A Sense Of Humor,” “Regarding A Trip That I Was On Recently,” and “A Box Of Sculptured Cocks,” one of the most ear-opening titles that we’ve played on Discorder Radio.
“I had an art professor in Reno—Howard Rosenburg, and yes he’s getting outed right now — who is fairly convinced that all of the cocks were chiseled off of [Vatican] sculptures at some point in history. And what they do with all those cocks is put them in a shoebox and bury them in the basement in the Vatican. He hasn’t gone and looked for it or found it, but I think he really believes that there is a Converse box of marble dicks in the Vatican basement,” he laughs. “The idea of that was just so,” he calms and ponders, “well, I used to be a little more ironic with song title naming. I just thought that it was a funny thing to say and had to include it.”
He jokes about imagining the sculptor responsible for the chiseling of those cocks. “Maybe that was somebody’s job? It’s not easy to be the dick chiseler. And he, or she, had to work maybe around the clock, maybe for years, maybe their whole life. And that’s how they fed their kids: on dick chiseling. And we respect that. We know what it’s like to work, man.”
It’s obvious that despite his virtues of vagueness and being weird, Sleeper is a man that values hard work. We’ll accept the fact that the 2012 SHiNDiG winner gave us a good show and didn’t go into great detail about much else; his music speaks for itself. In the meantime, we’re happy to laugh it up with him over cock jokes. Or penis jokes, if that is more acceptable.