Interview: The Silent Years
Thu, 11 Sep 2008 16:14:22
The Silent Years Videos
Wandering between the fingerpicked reflections and the thundering epiphanies of their sophomore album, The Globe, The Silent Years have crafted one of this year's standout indie releases. It may seem ironic that The Globe's ruminations of the universality of all things have so clearly separated the band from the ever-expanding nebula of their peers, but it squares perfectly with their message that all things coexistjust on different scales. With accolades from Internet and print outlets alike, the Detroit natives are preparing to the stoke their mounting buzz with a massive tour, but before they bring The Globe to the road, they were kind enough to talk to ARTISTdirect about ignoring reviews, starting their own record label and much more.
After your self-titled debut, you guys went through a major personnel change. What's the story behind the line-up switch?
The former drummer and guitarist decided to go back to school, and it just so happened that one of Detroit's best bands called Rescue split up. It seemed like it was meant to be, and when we all got together and played, it felt really good.
How did the retooling affect the band's momentum?
I think that the pool of potential got restocked, so it felt like a total shot in the arm creatively.
You guys started your own label, First Date Records, to release The Globe. What spurred you to take things into your own hands, and how has it worked out for you?
It seemed to us after completing the record, that most labels are interested in taking portions of touring and publishing. We started to realize that coming up with a few thousand dollars to start our own label made sense, considering that the label could have 50% of the publishing and touring and we would still be receiving all of it. It's a bit confusing, but I think it makes a lot of sense. The problems with starting your own label could theoretically come from other people who don't recognize that being a legitimate move—but we honestly haven't felt much of a negative response at all. We did, however, decide to partner with a wonderful label in New York called Defend Music, which is helping with administering everything while we're on tour and handling distribution, among other things. There are some instances where you have to accept that you are better served stepping aside and having someone who knows how to do things do them.
Has it been difficult to balance your time between being the label and being the artist?
Yes, but worthwhile. Also, you value your creative time a lot more.
You guys have been receiving some well-deserved praise from some big names in the industry. As a young band, do you welcome the attention or is it overwhelming?
We are excited that people are paying attention, but we try to avoid reading reviews as a general rule. If they say nice things it could be very ego inflating, and if they say negative things it could be hurtful. We just try to listen to each other and close friends. Sometimes other bands that you respect make the best sounding boards. If the praise helps get more people to listen, then we can't ever ask for anything else.
One of the most powerful aspects of The Globe is the balance it strikes between dichotic styles and sounds. What's the songwriting process like for you guys?
The best way to describe it is that the music is more intuitive and comes from the gut, and the lyrics come from the head. I think that lyrics coming from the gut can work, but music coming from the head seldom does.
Balance between opposites also plays a major thematic role on The Globe, how would you sum up the album's overarching message?
The Globe is mostly about the universality of things. I am lost in my thoughts, while you are lost in a strange city, and yet we are both lost. You are sad that you ruined your car, and I am sad that I ruined a relationship, and yet we are both sad. All that changes is the scale of things, which is why The Globe was chosen as the title. The globe is a wonderful symbol of scale.
One of the most striking things on The Globe is the depth of the lyrics. Where do you draw your inspiration?
William Carlos Williams, Li Young Lee, Wallace Stevens, Bob Dylan and many other places. The Globe is a very universal album, so the album has a lot of second and third person. There was a conscious attempt at making them focused and vague, so that anyone could get meaning out of them.
Are there any future plans for touring, your record label or releasing new music that you'd like to let us in on?
We just finished a six song EP called Let Go, and we are all working on various other projects. A new full-length is in the works. Hopefully we'll tour a lot in the next eight months. If it were up to us, we wouldn't stop touring.