The Silent Years Interview

The Silent Years’ album ‘The Globe’ was released to critical acclaim in their native US earlier this year.

This week (19th October to be precise) the album got its UK release and we managed to catch up with singer Josh Epstein to talk about their thoughts on the UK music scene and how they can relate to it, as well as discussing their history, present and future.

You’re a band from Detroit, however you are making music that’s really big in England at the moment, were you aware of the English music scene in writing your latest record or is it something new to you?

The English music scene is relatively new to us. There always seem to be British ex patriots at our shows in the States, and they often tell us that we would go over well in the UK. I think that’s the extent of our experience there!

How important is the UK to you in terms of music and how do you feel about the prospect of touring over here?

The UK seems to me to be more receptive to music that sounds different from the rest. I’ve heard that many bands from the US have to succeed in the UK before people at home take notice of them, which speaks to the UK audience’s tastes quite well. We are very excited to tour over there in the next few months.

When did you all start out making music and what drew you to it to begin with?

I actually was humming in my crib as a 9 month old, and my family is quite musical so I’ve been playing instruments and vocalizing all my life. Music is just the oldest thing in the world that endures and I can’t imagine not being drawn to it.

How did you all meet? What are the dynamics within the group like?

We all met around Detroit as members of various projects in the music scene. The Detroit music scene is very small and everyone gets on well with each other for the most part. We are all pretty close friends and treat being with each other in the band like an opportunity to spend time with good friends.

I understand from another interview that you got your name from a former member’s time spent in mime school, was it not strange keeping the name thought of by someone who’s not in the band anymore?

It was a bit strange to keep the name, but that member (Ryan Trager) actually still plays with us from time to time. There are never any hard feelings when someone decides to try something else. We treat this project like a giant annual family reunion sometimes!

You have a sound that’s pretty fresh and there haven’t been a great deal of American bands making it, what are the main things that influence you?

I think that we all genuinely love all types of music. Currently, I’m on a Paul Simon kick that is bordering on sickness. I’ve also been listening to T.P. Orchestra Poly-rhythmo a lot lately. I go through periods where I’m just rabidly digesting the newest stuff out there, but typically before we go to record I listen to the old standards.

From reading your biography you obviously are a busy band with the release of albums. ep’s and touring, what else do you do to keep yourselves busy when not doing band things?

I have been writing for other artists lately and producing some bands. I’ve gotten really comfortable in the studio because we’ve recorded ourselves for as long as I can recall out of necessity so I love to try and work with other bands and artists when possible.

I’ve also been working on a Broadway production with a talented friend and am trying to start a project where we get the remaining members of The Funk Brothers back together to record in the old Motown Studio called “Hittsville USA” in Detroit. The rest of the group all have projects that they are working on like writing children’s books and making electronic music.

As you’ve had quite a few releases in your time as a band, recording must be a huge part of it for you, what is the recording process like for you?

We try to record as often as we can because as a musician you’re always looking forward to the next project and given the speed of information these days it’s now feasible to release almost as fast as you can record. We usually record in my parents’ basement because we’ve figured it out for the most part acoustically. We will usually do Drums and Bass first, then Cassie and I add way too much stuff and we wind up with ungodly sessions with 115 tracks which are a pain to mix.

A lot of bands don’t really enjoy recording and would prefer to tour a lot, which do you prefer and what attracts you to what you prefer?

I think that both are wonderful, but at this point I’ve grown to realize that they are 2 entirely different animals. Performing is a less creative process (save the preparations for touring and show planning) and more of a group experience. We try to make sure that everyone in the room at our show leaves feeling like they had an experience. Recording and writing is a wholly emotional release and so it’s far different. I think it’s probably healthy to do both as often as one can.

You’ve toured with quite an array of bands in your time from the kooks to motion city soundtrack, how do fans of different genres of music react to you? Are there any genres that are particularly loving or hostile?

We are a fairly broad band in terms of style, so we perform with many different types of groups. I am very happy for anyone who is pursuing a passion so I love playing with all types of bands. We’ve been lucky in that our performance is fairly interactive so we are pretty accessible to all in the live setting. I think that a lot of bands forget that as a performer it’s your job to make people have a good time, and we really try to do that.

What is your live show like? Anything out of the ordinary that happens on stage?

Our live show is a living and changing thing. We never plan things, and sometimes we’ll have up to 18 people playing with us. Spontaneity is the key to creating an experience that’s unique and genuine.

What do you have planned for the rest of the year?

In September we are headed to Los Angeles to make a new full length record in a new environment. We are hoping to do a UK tour sometime soon. Hopefully we’ll have a new full length out in early 2010.