Monday, February 21st 2011
Antiquiet Sessions, Interviews: The Silent Comedy
We’re going to call this one Antiquiet Sessions #0.
With the steady uprising of folk-Americana in the musical landscapes of today, bands such as Mumford & Sons and The Builders & The Butchers are enjoying a greater momentum of public appreciation for music that triumphs quality over spectacle, a revolution of sound that eschews the saccharine indulgence of digital whirlpools for passionate, often stripped, instrumental performance.
Thus, the stage is set for The Silent Comedy to thrive, as the bluegrass-infused, gospel-inspired cabaret rockers embark on their largest tour yet.
The band, founded in 2006 by brothers Joshua and Jeremiah Zimmerman, specializes in barn-burning intensity in live performance, utilizing guitars, piano, accordion, banjo, harmonica and dark lyricism to create a theatrically dramatic rock sound inspired by their lifelong travels through Asia, Russia, the Middle East and Europe. From playing folk instruments in the foothills of the Himalayas to drawing crowds around pianos at Spanish shopping malls, the boys have kept their musical outlet alive by any means possible, and the investment is finally beginning to show a flood of return.
The Silent Comedy was originally formed as a recording project and a vehicle for exploring the music the brothers had loved while growing up, but soon took on a life of its own as the material began to take shape around a sound that was as exciting and richly complex as it was unique, with the soulful energy of a Southern-Baptist spiritual revival.
With percussion beast Chad Lee, the beautifully mustachioed Justin Buchanan on banjo, guitar and mandolin and secret hellfire-passion weapon Tim Graves on guitar, harmonica and backup vocals, the brothers Zimmerman have found seamless counterparts in their musical kin. The quintet’s anachronistic aesthetic, sonic stylings and progressive spirit has catapulted them into greater exposure through recording and relentless touring.
On a sunny Saturday earlier this month, we met up with The Silent Comedy in downtown Los Angeles for something of a tour-trailer revival, in which the guys played a few tracks off the beaten path of their usual set before a sold-out show at the El Rey Theatre. We also sat down with Josh to discuss the band’s direction & creative relationship and more:
A few introductory words to the performance from Josh: “Poison is a pretty old song of ours, but it’s gone through a few incarnations. There’s really nothing to do in Kingman Arizona, so we just drank a lot and messed around with our sounds. It’s cool doing it acoustically, because it gives the song a whole other life.”
“Wine is brand new. We’ve only played it at a show once before, but we love it. We play it all the time at practice just to have fun. Playing it acoustically helps us to get to know the song better, because it challenges you to do different things.”
“Company Town is one that my brother wrote that we recorded for a digital compilation for a studio in San Diego called Black Box Studios. It has a whole community of musicians around it, so we’re a part of a big comp that consists of about 30 local bands. That should be out in April. The song’s another one we love – it’s about anger at corporate domination, set in an old mining town where when they payed you, they payed you in company credits and you could only shop at the company store.”
After developing their DIY studio chops with with early EPs and their debut LP Sunset Stables, the band self-produced a full and proper sophomore album, last year’s Common Faults, to critical acclaim and an ocean of new fans. Pick up the album and learn more about The Silent Comedy at their official site.
Big up to The Video Mouse for shooting this with us.