04 March 2010

The Silent League Answers 5

The Silent League’s “But You’ve Always Been The Caretaker” has been on heavy rotation on my iPod over the past few weeks (review link). Since this is one of those bands that have always challenged and excited me, it was only a matter of time before I would reach out to the band to get them to answer a few questions. So I have to admit that once I got the responses back from the band, I was excited to share them (anyone who mentions Scritti Politi and The Cure’s “Faith” gets thumbs up from me!). I would personally like to thank Justin Russo and Shannon Fields for taking the time and answering 5.

The Silent League / Photographer: Noah Kalina

1. Who are your musical and non-musical influences?

Kermit the Frog (musically and non-musically)
Neil Young
Todd Rundgren
Electric Light Orchestra
Jack Nietzsche
Jim O'Rourke
The Catholic Church (musically)

SHANNON: A handful of important ones for me include Morton Feldman, Brian Eno, OMD, Microstoria, Xenakis, Sacred Harp songbook shape-note hymns, speaking and singing in tongues, Robert Ashley, Todd Rundgren, The Smiths, Einsturzende Neubauten, Harmonia, Harry Partch, Scritti Politti, Psychedelic Furs, Tony Conrad, Hall & Oates, Pauline Oliveros, Gary Numan, Carlo Gesualdo, Dock Boggs, Skip James, Steve Reich, Gastr del Sol, Lambchop, Silver Apples, The Cure’s “Faith” and “Disintegration,” Bread, 10CC, magical realism, long lists…

2. The band definitely has one of those thought provoking names in music. How did you come up with and mean by the moniker of the band: "The Silent League"?

JUSTIN: The name "Silent League" actually jumped out of a reference book I was reading one afternoon in the local library branch here in Brooklyn. (It was a dictionary of uncommon phrases & strange phenomenon.) It was a post WWII group that came to power in the height of the Red Scare and who’s sole purpose was to intimate and manufacture anti-communist sentiment. I can’t say I chose it for any reason associated with those beginnings but there you have it. I liked the name.

SHANNON: I dislike the origins of the name. Fuck the Silent League.

3. From the first album to now, has the process of composing and recording the music changed?

JUSTIN: Yes, I no longer do it alone! ... thankfully. I used to write solely by myself and then bring those ideas to the band…I still do that now but we’ve also shifted to group approach when coming up with original material as well, which I much prefer. Actually, this album was produced by band member Shannon Fields.

SHANNON: Several of these songs began with Justin and I sitting side by side at the piano, like Jackson and McCartney, and I liked that. As a producer I left many things open to chance in the studio when we recorded basics, I like to take a band like this that has a strong group language, and allow it to chase tangents. I also like to ‘find the song’ during the arrangement, overdubbing and production process, and there was a lot of that. Sometimes the secret to a song might lie in a middle 8 that you have yet to find, but once found takes you to a different place, instructs you to discard half the song, and shows you a new way. It’s organic and un-forced working that way.

The Silent League / Photographer: Noah Kalina

4. Other than "The Shining" influencing the title of your latest album, are there any other specific influences on the album (pop culture or personal)?

JUSTIN: “The Shining” definitely hits it…though it would be fair to also add the film “Das Boot” (1981) which I think I watched at least three times during the time of the making of this record. That and upstate NY, which gets into everything.

SHANNON: Too bad this is an email interview because this question is way too broad to answer. But yes, it’s impossible to make work without influence. But there were no direct lines that lead to "Caretaker" if that’s what you’re after.

5. Though I used the term "band," the term collective comes up more often than not. So, out of curiosity, what do you consider yourselves?

JUSTIN: I’d say we’re a band. ‘Group of dudes’ works too. ;)

SHANNON: This band has had a lot of turnover over the years, so our friends may come and go. But it’s still, at any given time, a band with permanent full-time members and the assistance of our friends or sidemen. “Collective” comes about because we like to have all of our friends play on our records (and we play on theirs), we like big sounds, we like density and excess. They help us get there. I think the notion of “collective” also gets bandied about because journalists tend not to want to give themselves a headache by spending a few minutes reading liner notes and verifying who is in the band and who is a guest. But it’s true in the sense that we have a big circle of friends in Brooklyn and who have similar aesthetics, mutual trust and love, and play on each others’ records and projects. So in that sense it’s true. See? Clear as mud. Sorry.

Keep up The Silent League at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr Blog.

And here are some upcoming tour dates in the USA (check their homepage for updates).

March 6th: Sycamore, Brooklyn, NY - Acoustic show with winds/string ensemble flyer

March 10th: Littlefield, Brooklyn NY, w/ CALLmeKAT and Brasstronaut

March 12th: Boylan Heights, Charlottesville, VA

March 13th: Blind Tiger, Greensboro, NC, w/ Now You See Them and Pearl & the Beard

March 14th: Pearl Lounge, New Orleans, LA, w/ Missing Monuments and James Weber

March 15th: Rubber Gloves, Denton, TX, w/ JAGUAR LOVE, ORANGE PEEL SUNSHINE, and I AM THE DOT

March 17th-21st: SXSW Music Festival, Austin, TX
3/19 - Everloving party
3/20 - Friend Island (Hometapes/ForcefieldPR)
3/21 - Obscure Magpie TWO HEADED PARTY

March 23rd: Grimeys Records, Nashville, TN Instore

March 31st: Bowery Electric, New York, NY, w/ Only Son and Common Prayer

April 10th: 53 Richards St, Red Hook, Brooklyn FREE SHOW!!!Equal Parts Art Gallery/Dance Party/Rock Show, Gallery opening 6pm. Music 8pm. flyer

May 2nd - Full Moon resort, Big Indian, NY - TRUCK AMERICA FESTIVAL w/ Mercury Rev, White Rabbits, Common Prayer, Neil Halstead (Slowdive / Mojave 3) etc…

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