Five dudes from Reno have mined through musical bedrock, followed the veins of their favorite artists (Wilco, Them Crooked Vultures, Gogol Bordello, Radiohead and The Beatles) and refined some sterling silver rock ‘n’ roll.
Silver is moving forward while gripping firmly to the past. Its players have the breadth of five people who have been in other bands, studied and performed different types of music and recorded endlessly. Their cumulative experiences yield a safe space for the musicians to thrive.
“I’ve always felt really self-conscious about ideas in prior projects,” said Greg Gilmore, Silver’s singer/guitarist/vibraslap-enthusiast. “It’s different now because we feel comfortable and safe.”
He and guitarist Josh Kisor have a Petty-Campbell thing going on. Not only do they practice, perform and record together, they sleep under the same roof.
“There are friends, then there are the people in your life who will tell you when you’re being an ass,” Kisor said. “For guys like Greg and me, it’s good to have the latter in your life.”
[pullquote]A lot of our favorite people have laid some stank into those walls. We’ve recorded a slew of our friends like Josiah Knight and Chris Wyatt Scott, along with Rigorous Proof and Sam Chase. Hopeless Jack and Failure Machine have also jammed down there.”[/pullquote]
It wasn’t always an Odd Couple situation. But first, let’s guess which one is Felix.
After a long bout of touring, Gilmore stumbled back into Reno with bloodshot eyes and no place to stay. He had enough money for a couple of months rent for a studio at the Potentialist, and he valued that over anything else. He doesn’t admit to living down there, but let’s assume he never left.
Everything in their studio is second-hand. Gilmore dumpster-dove for carpets behind Carpeteria and later enlisted help from his friend Spike McGuire and Silver’s bassist/singer Brendon Lund to make the studio more of a home … err … I mean, definitely not a home at all. He’s never lived there. It’s a homey studio.
From then on, the songs started to flow.
“A lot of our favorite people have laid some stank into those walls,” Gilmore said. “We’ve recorded a slew of our friends like Josiah Knight and Chris Wyatt Scott, along with Rigorous Proof and Sam Chase. Hopeless Jack and Failure Machine have also jammed down there.”
Aside from the cohabitants, there’s another strong bond between their rhythm section, a necessity for most successful bands.
“Brendon and I really jive together,” drummer Jeff Knight said. “Having a solid, confident bass rhythm to build on and lock into makes everyone more comfortable, especially a drummer.”
This new project literally has opened Knight’s eyes.
“I found myself in a drumming rut,” Knight said. “I developed some bad habits, including closing my eyes while playing. I really think I needed to join Silver so my passion for performing and drumming could be reignited.”
Kisor feels like they’ve struck a trifecta – love for their bandmates, music and the city they call home. Lund went on to say they clicked in three ways – via music, their past experiences and as friends.
“I think everyone is able to offer their own significant contributions musically, experientially, and personally to create a more well-rounded band,” Lund said.
Their first release, “Rock’n’Roll is Dead,” debuts five tracks, each a triumph of both rock prowess and habit-forming hooks.
A Silver song starts when Gilmore comes to rehearsal with a tune he’s been humming “around the house” for 72 hours. Gilmore, Lund and Adam Landis, keyboardist/singer, then talk extensively about song structure and other musical theory things Kisor said he doesn’t understand. He then gets a simplified version, begins “noodling” and, somehow, Knight already knows what to do on drums.
“The guys are my editorial process,” Kisor said. “I’ll throw a bunch of stuff against the wall and the guys help me see what sticks.”
The phrase “noodling” is commonly used to belittle a guitarist’s impact or effectiveness. Like those hippies Weir and Garcia. Kisor’s style is much more focused than he lets on. On most of the tracks, his solos are the sonic highlight. During “Medusa,” the closest they get to a ballad, his expressive “noodling” has a conversation with Gilmore’s lyrics. Even though the song does feature impressive vocal feats, I dare say, his guitar is the primary voice.
What stands out most is their attention to detail and the variety of flavors found on the album. The first track “Be Somebody” is anthemic and driving. The main guitar riff is teeth-gritting and Landis’ chords over the verses give it a lot of space to breathe.
Gilmore’s sound ranges from Petty to Jack White to Elvis Presley, and not only from song to song, but from line to line. His raw vocal tracks are balanced by the plethora of choir-like backing tracks under the chorus. All self-recorded in a stinky little studio in a Reno basement.
“I trust my instincts,” Gilmore said. “I really don’t ever think about vocal technique.”
[pullquote]We learned a lot about each other while recording this EP together. Hopefully that translates into a full length album sooner than later.”[/pullquote]
I cannot stress how catchy these choruses are. And in the best ways. They hit hard and often change the song enough to provide an exciting flip-flop of feels.
I wanted to figure out why Landis’ keys standout so beautiful in their music.
“Silver is the largest group I’ve been a part of,” Landis said. “With five members, I have to step back a little bit and play my notes a bit sparser so as to not step on anyone’s toes.”
He has a gift for this. Watching him play the main part of “How to Feel” is mind boggling. It’s half ’70s rock, half carnival ride. His fingers bob and weave inhumanly to provide open space for the other musicians.
“We start to fall into our groove and we add our individual flair to the arrangement,” Landis said.
From Gilmore’s lip-quivering Presley nods to Kisor’s epically manic solo to Knight’s superb hi-hat work to Lund’s driving bass and vocal harmony, “How to Feel” is brimming with flair. They are aware of each other’s strengths and they play to them.
“We learned a lot about each other while recording this EP together,” Knight said. “Hopefully that translates into a full length album sooner than later.”
– Tony Contini