The Sheep Fiends compose music in an improvisational, impromptu and extemporaneous style. Lyrics are typically ad-libbed as the music is recorded, musicians find their way by ear and it is not uncommon for an instrument to change hands mid-song. If you are tired of music made by market analysis, if you have been listening to the same radio format for too long, then Sheep Fiends may interest you.

The nucleus of Sheep Fiends formed around a number of DJ's who met in the early 1990's at WRDP: Radio DePaul (DePaul University's college radio station) in Chicago. This was at a time when Jim O'Rourke was the station manager (before he became a record producer) and we were strongly influenced by his radio station's record collection. We have been recording and releasing music ever since.

Below is information regarding how to navigate and find our music on this website, but you can also check out The Sheep Fiends at these other places on the interweb:

Bandcamp The Sheep Fiends on Bandcamp
Facebook The Sheep Fiends Unite! Public Group on Facebook
Reddit The Sheep Fiends subreddit

Most songs are available under the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0 license, so feel free to share songs marked as such with others in a non-commercial manner. There are several ways you can navigate this website and listen to songs by The Sheep Fiends. Regardless of which approach you choose, the songs are rated with 1-5 stars (5 stars is best) to help guide you towards songs we think you might like:

  • The Sheep Fiends main page provides a curated playlist of our favorite songs. This playlist is also provided as a ZIP file that is just under 700 MB and designed to fit on a single MP3 CD.
  • The recordings section shows albums released by The Sheep Fiends by default. It also provides the following navigation options:
    • Songs released between 1992-1998 on a legacy Cassette Tape format for historical purposes. These tapes are displayed in the reverse order that they were released. Only songs that have been digitized and also released on an album are available for a listen on these Casette pages.
    • Cover songs.
    • Songs with the higher subjective ratings of 4-5 that we think you might like.
    • Videos.
  • The history section provides a timeline-based way to approach the material, useful if you are wanting to listen to songs from a particular timeframe, like most recently recorded songs.
  • In the musicians section, you can click on a particular musician, then click on the "Songs" link on the left navigation to see songs associated with that musician. Note that some musicians may not be associated with any songs and will not have a "Songs" link.
  • You can also check out most recently released albums at The Sheep Fiends Bandcamp page.

Note that most material recorded before 2009 was recorded with lo-fi equipment, often nothing more than a stereo cassette tape deck connected to a soundboard. Music recorded before 1997 was recorded in mono. Obviously, some of these lo-fi recordings can be a listening challenge. Since 2009 the group has recorded using multi-track recording equipment allowing for a more professional sound. While the material is edited, efforts are taken to retain the improv nature of the compositional and recording process. In the rare cases when a track is overdubbed, it is typically done in an improvisational 1-take manner.


Some quotes of inspiration...

Making music together is the best way for two people to become friends. There is none easier.

  • The Music Master, "The Glass Bead Game" by Hermann Hesse, in the chapter "The Call"

For art, the intervention of Capital always signals a further degree of mediation. To say that art is commodified is to say that a mediation, or standing-in-between, has occurred, & that this betweenness amounts to a split, & that this split amounts to "alienation." Improv music played by friends at home is less "alienated" than music played "live" at the Met, or music played through media (whether PBS or MTV or Walkman). In fact, an argument could be made that music distributed free or at cost on cassette via mail is LESS alienated than live music played at some huge We Are The World spectacle or Las Vegas niteclub, even though the latter is live music played to a live audience (or at least so it appears), while the former is recorded music consumed by distant & even anonymous listeners.


The Sheep Fiends Website

The Sheep Fiends have been organizing jams via email since 1994 and have had a web presence since 1995. An early version of The Sheep Fiends website from June 1996 can be viewed here. In 1996 the website adopted a black-background look-and-feel and started using CGI (Common Gateway Interface) technology written in Perl. An archived version of that site can be viewed on The Internet Archive Wayback Machine. CSS was introduced in 2003. The Perl scripts that make this website work are available under the GPL license and you can click on the link to download the sheepfiends-engine 1.10 tarball.