Interview: The Silver Seas
Published on October 3rd, 2011 | Jonny Abrams
Nashville four-piece The Silver Seas will tomorrow night appear alongside Laura Marling and legendary crooner Tony Bennett on BBC staple Later…With Jools Holland, the latest step in the snowballing appreciation of their sun-kissed, seventies-infused pop on this side of the pond.
Hailed by British broadcasting guru Danny Baker as “the best band in the world” and by The Word magazine as “the kind of thing you could sprinkle on your dreams and eat with a spoon” (whatever that means), the band were for their first two albums called The Bees but were forced into a change by the existence of a certain psychedelic pop troupe from the Isle of Wight.
Undeterred, they released the gorgeous Château Revenge at the end of last year to a wholly justified wave (geddit?) of acclaim and, with the album finally getting a British release last month, they have their sights set on drumming up the kind of momentum that will make them impossible to overlook. In the words of front man Daniel Tashian: You can ignore one good record, even two or three, but you can’t ignore four or five really good records – so that’s where I’m going.
“Ensconced as we now are amongst their growing legion of fans and advocates, Rocksucker fired Daniel over some questions in order to find out a little more about what floats The Silver Seas’ boat – and, with that, we promise to end the lame maritime puns…
Château Revenge‘s opening track is titled “Another Bad Night’s Sleep”. Are you managing to sleep any better now?
Yes, thank you! I have a baby now so when she sleeps, I sleep!
I read that there’s a concept behind Château Revenge – is this true and, if so, what is it? Also, why the title?
I think there was a bit of “I’m going to make a record that’s going to buy me a totally unnecessary château and prove to some specific people who didn’t believe in me that they had underestimated me” type of scenario. We wanted to use The Biltmore for the cover but they said no, and sent us back a picture of a bunch of Lexus parked out front. So a FUCK YOU to everyone who doubted us. That’s the general concept.
“What’s the Drawback?” and “Somebody Said Your Name” have a lovely, ELO kind of vibe. Are they an influence? More people should admit to liking them, in my opinion! What kind of music were you raised on?
I have no problem admitting if I like something – I don’t care if people think it’s not cool. ELO, are you kidding? Fucking brilliant! I was raised on 70’s and 80’s radio, Westport CT. Billy Joel. New York City radio in the suburbs. Plus the Buck Owens records my parents played.
Was the guitar solo in “From My Windowsill” a deliberate attempt to sound like George Harrison? Good job if so!
Trying to sound like “My Love” by McCartney. Thank You!
There are some beautiful vocal harmonies on the album. How do you go about arranging them/figuring them out?
We make the song, then Jason and I get together at the piano and work out harmonies, the note choices, then we have a Background session. Get the band in, plus Madi Diaz, a terrific singer friend of ours, and there you go!
Not only is “Candy” a monster of a pop song but I love that it ends on a major seventh chord. Do you consider yourself a craftsman when it comes to songwriting or is it a much more instinctive process?
I consider myself a great purveyor of stylized dreck. Yes, I believe the process of songwriting for me is an instinctive one. “I listen to the wind of my soul” as Cat Stevens said.
Who’s the kid in “Kid”? And what was the inspiration for the applause-soaked final few minutes of it?
It was written for my brother-in-law, who had a disastrous prom night. We needed a fitting coda to the album – you can’t just go on a ride like that without a real ending, so to extend “Kid” that way felt right.
You once said that you were wishing someone would hear one of your songs and pick it up for a sitcom theme. Which song off Château Revenge do you think would be most suited to such a deployment? And what kind of sitcom would it be?
Oh god, I don’t know. I thought the sitcom theme was “Country Life” from our last album High Society – it would be a sitcom about a city bloke who moves to the country obviously, and all the hilarity that ensues. Although I absolutely HATE laugh tracks. They make me feel like I have the flu.
Good luck on the Jools Holland show! Are you aware of how popular it is over here?
Thank you, yes we are aware. It’s a great honor and a personal high water mark.Do you know anything of your celebrity fan Danny Baker? He’s genuinely a very funny and interesting bloke.
I only know enough to be intimidated – Danny is truly a genius. A great debt is owed to him by this band, he’s been very kind to us. I’ve offered to do some yard work but his people haven’t responded.
Likewise, have you ever heard anything by the British band The Bees (known as A Band of Bees on your side of the pond)? They’re one of my very favourite bands and your song “What If It Isn’t Out There?” reminds me of them a bit.
Yes, I go back and forth – some days I think they are the better band, some days I think we are. Still hate that they got away with the name, but oh well. Live to fight another day.
Premature question this may be, but do you have material in mind for album four? If so, what kind of direction can you see it taking at this stage?
Been batting around a few ideas. Afro-funk is certainly beckoning but, in the end, it will be the result of this band getting together and everyone’s moods and influences at the time of recording. Still will probably have a lot of major sevenths.
Are there any obscure and/or up-and-coming artists that you’d like to recommend or give a shout-out to?
Finally, if I asked you right now to name your top three albums of all time, just off the top of your head, which ones would you pick?
The Pretenders’ Greatest Hits, The Bee Gees’ Greatest Hits and Erik Satie’s Piano Works by Aldo Ciccolini.
The Silver Seas, thank you!
You’re welcome, thank you.