In Focus

Who are you? Inside the world of anonymous bands, from Sleep Token to Daft Punk

What’s behind artists from Paul McCartney to Daft Punk hiding their identities? Michael Hann tries talking to bands who don’t want you to know their names

Saturday 19 August 2023 08:07 BST
<p>Ego, privacy, and gimmick: why do musicians choose masks? </p>

Ego, privacy, and gimmick: why do musicians choose masks?

In the world of the anonymous band, you’re never quite sure whom you are dealing with. Take Sleep Token, a decidedly heavy kind of band, whose last album Take Me Back to Eden reached No 3 in the UK albums chart. They’re big enough to headline Wembley Arena this coming December, but they’ve still managed to keep their identities secret. Lots of people believe that their singer, who goes by the name of Vessel, is really Chris Martin from Coldplay. Me? Not so much. But the magic of the anonymous band is that frisson of uncertainty. Sleep Token won’t even do interviews these days (though one Q&A piece in 2017 offered this unhelpful summation of themselves: “How we got here is as irrelevant as who we are – what matters is the music and the message.”).

So the first thing to say is that I’m pretty sure the person I am talking to is called Tony Wolski and I’m pretty sure he’s a member of a band called The Armed. Then again, though, I’ve spoken to him before, and then he claimed to be called Adam Vallely (though then, as now, he admitted to membership of The Armed).

This time, though, I think he really is who he says he is. Tony Wolski has his own website, which shows he’s a filmmaker – he’s made commercials for Ford, Chevrolet and McDonald’s, as well as music videos for The Armed, Tegan and Sara, Converge, Metz and Protomartyr. If nothing else, we can be sure that Tony Wolski exists and that he is connected to The Armed. Chances are, he also plays guitar and sings with them.

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