Originally called Smugface and playing an aggressive, somewhat progressive style of alternative rock in line with the nu metal of the late '90s and early 2000s, it wasn't until around 2004 that this Atlanta-bred quintet changed its sound and image, and subsequently its name to City Sleeps. Smugface consisted of core members Adriel Garcia (guitar), John Whitney (drums), and Elliott Sharp (vocals); early demos -- produced by Rick Beato from Universal recording act Billionaire -- got the band considerable attention in underground rock circles, as well as on the popular music site MP3.com. Members of alternative metal outfit Cold got wind of the group and were impressed, eventually bringing them to the attention of Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst, who almost signed Smugface to his Interscope imprint, Flawless Records.
Things were slowly changing internally, however, and by 2003, Smugface were noticeably transitioning into a much more melodic rock band, complete with big guitars and near-pop choruses. This new sound led to the band being noticed by producer John Feldmann (of the ska-punk band Goldfinger), who had previously worked successfully with similar groups like the Used and Story of the Year. He contacted the group in 2004 and the guys flew out to Los Angeles to record with him. City Sleeps -- as they were then going by -- were soon signed to Maverick/Warner Bros. Records, and by the following year, they had completed their debut, entitled Walker's Ridge, which was scheduled to be released in early 2006.
However, things didn't quite work out, and the label dropped the band before the album saw the light of day. The end of the year found bassist Brad Allen (ex-Family Force 5) stepping in to replace Mars Davlan, completing the quintet of Sharp, Garcia, Whitney, and guitarist Steve Miloszweki. City Sleeps ultimately hooked up with New Jersey-based hardcore label Trustkill Records in mid-2007, releasing their album -- renamed Not an Angel -- that October. Dates in the U.K. with Welsh rockers Funeral for a Friend finished off the year. ~ Corey Apar