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No rest for Sleep Signals after devastating bus crash

Sleep Signals performs 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Big Dipper.   (Courtesy)
Sleep Signals performs 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Big Dipper.  (Courtesy)
By Ed Condran For The Spokesman-Review

Quality slumber is nearly impossible for Sleep Signals if the band hits the road after a show. The inability to even corral 40 winks when traveling in the middle of the night isn’t surprising considering what the band experienced in 2021.

The veteran metal act survived a devastating bus crash in Missouri leaving some members with debilitating injuries. Bassist Travis Wheeler left the band after his right foot and three of his toes from his left foot were amputated.

“ (Wheeler) was in the hospital for months,” vocalist-guitarist Robert Cosgrove said while calling from his Redmond, Oregon, home. “It’s been terrible for him. We’re all still dealing with the aftermath.

“We were two days into that tour when the accident happened. We were all on the bus when the transmission went out. It was awful. I had a pretty gnarly head injury. It was difficult to get back on the bus. Nobody sleeps when the bus is moving. We can’t sleep because of what we experienced.”

Sleep Signals only travels by day unless it’s a long drive between cities. “We just drive for a bit at night and pull over and sleep while the bus is stationary,” Cosgrove said. “If we try to sleep while the bus is moving and we hit a bump or jerk in a certain motion, the feeling is, ‘Oh no, we’re going to crash.’ ”

“The Return,” the latest Sleep Signals single sounds as if it was inspired by the accident.

“But that’s just a coincidence,” Cosgrove said. “It was written before the accident.”

Sleep Signals will showcase songs from its latest EP, “Ethereal” when it performs Wednesday at the Big Dipper. The new tunes combine big guitar riffs with melody.

“We used to be heavy into double guitar leads,” Cosgrove said. “We’re still heavy but we have a lot of pop influence in our music as well. I was huge into Michael Jackson’s work during the ’80s.

“I grew up with that pop sensibility but I also love hardcore and metalcore. I grew up on those styles of music as well. We combine those sounds and I think we’ve come up with something unique. I’m looking forward to seeing what people think. It’ll be interesting to experience the reaction these songs get when we come back to Spokane.”

It’s been six years since Sleep Signals performed in the Inland Northwest. The last time Sleep Signals showcased in Spokane, Cosgrove recalls an indelible memory while the band was in its bus.

“We were sitting in there and I heard some scratching on the roof of the bus,” he said. “ I checked it out and it was a wild turkey that somehow was on top of our bus. I didn’t know turkeys could get up that high. It was so strange for that to happen right in the middle of the city.”

Cosgrove can live with another wild turkey experience in town.

“I have no problem if that happens again,” Cosgrove said. “We just don’t want to experience anything like we did when we had our crash. It was devastating. After we had it, we talked it out with people and we were hit with the Metallica story when their bus crashed (in Sweden in 1986)and (bassist) Cliff Burton died. It’s something I don’t want to go through again and I hope no band has to go through that. But the bottom line is that we’re still standing after the accident.”

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