The Sleepy Jackson formed in 1998 with the original lineup featuring Luke Steele (guitars/vocals), Jesse Steele (drums), and Matthew O’Connor (bass). This lineup recorded a self-titled debut and a subsequent single titled "Miniskirt". Both recordings were independently released. In 2000, as a result of non-musical commitments, Luke Steele suggested that his brother should redirect his attentions and concentrate on other happenings in his life which ultimately resulted in Jesse following his advice and departing the band.
The void created by Steele's departure was filled by Paul Keenan (who now drums with Eskimo Joe at their live performances). Along with numerous shows in their hometown of Perth, in late 2000, The Sleepy Jackson toured nationally with Jebediah. In March 2001, on the eve of the band’s signing with EMI Records, the band toured with Magic Dirt and Motor Ace with Ronan Charles on keyboards joining Steele, O'Connor and Keenan. Five weeks into the tour, with the band broke, exhausted, and sleeping in caravan parks rather than enjoying the luxuries their touring partners were enjoying, O'Connor, Keenan and Charles quit leaving Steele to complete the tour solo.
In signing to EMI, pressure was soon placed on Steele to produce a recording. The result was a 2001 released EP titled Caffeine In The Morning Sun which Steele recorded in Sydney with a collection of session musicians. In addition to playing solo, Steele recruited drummer Malcolm Clark into The Sleepy Jackson fold and, when some serious touring was required in support of the release, the services of Justin Burford (Guitar) and Rodney Aravena (Bass) were enlisted. In addition to The Sleepy Jackson, Steele's three colleagues were also playing around their hometown with Jonathon Dudman under the name End Of Fashion.
The Sleepy Jackson relocated to Sydney where they recorded another EP, Let Your Love Be Love. Songs from this and past releases were put together to form a self titled mini album for release on the UK market. A period of extensive touring quickly followed which saw the band playing in Australia, The United States, and Europe. The later bought the band some very enthusiastic attention from UK music paper NME. In between live appearances, The Sleepy Jackson worked on recordings that were to become their debut album Lovers. During a series of UK appearances in 2003, Burford and Aravena left the band. With a support slot for Silverchair's Diorama tour looming back in Australia, replacements were quickly sought. Clarke ironically called upon the only other End of Fashion member not previously part of The Sleepy Jackson, Jonathon Dudman.
Dudman joined the band in Sydney where he took over bass duties and the second guitarist position was filled by session musician Ben Nightingale. The Sleepy Jackson's revolving door continued when Nightingale was ultimately replaced by Jonathon Dudman's brother, Julian Dudman. But the Dudmans consequently left the band leaving Luke Steele and Malcolm Clark as the only official members of The Sleepy Jackson.
The Sleepy Jackson released their second full length album Personality - One Was A Spider, One Was A Bird in Australia on July 1, 2006 where it debuted at No. 10 on the ARIA Albums Charts the following week. With its predecessor Lovers receiving generous support from both critics and radio alike, the band supported the new album's worldwide release with a series of live appearances in select markets. Joining Clark and Steele are Dave Symes and Felix Bloxsom, who both worked on the album, and Lee Jones who was formerly in Perth band Spencer Tracy.
In 2007 The Sleepy Jackson performed at the 2007 Big Day Out, Southbound, Falls Festival and the St Jerome's Laneway festivals in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Luke Steele appeared on the Pnau single "With You Forever", leading Nick Littlemore to state on Pnau's website "...working with Luke Steele... it was amazing, that inspired us to work on a separate project with him all together. It's another album we're doing."
The Sleepy Jackson: Luke Steele (vocals, guitar); Julian Hamilton (piano, keyboards); Kim Moyes (vibraphone, percussion); David Symes (bass guitar); Malcolm Clark (drums); Felix Bloxsom (percussion).
Personality - One Was A Spider, One Was A Bird is the second album by Australian band The Sleepy Jackson. The album was recorded at Big Jesus Burger Studios in Sydney and was produced by Scott Horscroft and Luke Steele. Guests on the album include The Presets, Jim Moginie (Midnight Oil) and Davey Lane (You Am I) among others.
"Steele's work here has been lazily and mistakenly compared to that of Spector and Wilson, but there's no succulent centre of comparable songcraft hiding inside these over-egged, tune-dodging arrangements, merely the fantasy that ambition is the gateway to genius."
In an interview for PerthMusic, drummer Malcom Clarke explains about the title:
"Well the Personality bit has to do with all the people that were involved in making this record and the different aspects that they brought along. The Spider/Bird bit has to do with some religious symbolism. It shows the two different sides - God/Devil, Good/Evil and leaves it up to each person to make up their own mind. Some people might see the Spider as evil and the Bird as good, other people might see the complete opposite."
The album debuted at number 10 on the Australian (ARIA) Album Charts and #69 on the Swedish Album Charts. The album has also be nominated for a J Award by Australian radio station, Triple J. Two singles were released from the album, "God Lead Your Soul" in May 2006 and a second single, "Devil Was In My Yard", in September 2006.