On Sunday Night, October 3,2013, English piano rock band A Silent Film came to Dallas for a show at the Kessler Theater. I had seen a brief portion of their show at Edgefest 23 and their music, insanely catchy and vibrant, left me wanting more from a live performance. Unfortunately I was unable to attend their show. Luckily two great friends of mine went and happily offered to give them an interview, frantically Michael and I quickly came up with a few questions and here’s how it all turned out! Thanks again Maddie and Martin!
A Silent Film Concert Review By Madeline and Martin Flores
After the incredible show, we sat down with frontman Robert Stevenson. We first asked about the band’s history and how A Silent Film got started. “Spencer and I used to be in competing bands at school. We both played drums. Spencer is our drummer now. […] And he won, because he’s the better drummer. And I started being like a guitarist and a frontman. So we started, like, joining together.” The band originated in Oxford in 2005. Since their humble beginnings, the group has released two albums, toured, and played tons of festivals. However, A Silent Film’s accelerating popularity is no surprise.We’ve concluded that this band produces what we call “rock for the soul”. They include intuitive beats that drive each song in a progressive direction that takes listeners on a journey. Some songs start gentle and tender piano playing, and grow into powerful, soaring, soul-filling riffs with roaring guitars or strings (Danny, Dakota, and the Wishing Well and Anastasia are prime examples). The synth phrases included in almost every song – would otherwise seem out of place – are also included to create a more complete sound. The bass grooves are so under the radar, but they make the songs unique and danceable. They pair catchy melodies with deep, emotional lyrics which create songs that are memorable. Songs are easy to sing along to even if you don’t think about the lyrics, but if you choose to dissect the lyrics, you get a profound meaning that can apply to almost any life experience and that matters to people. Stevenson commented on the band’s lyrics saying “We try to just talk about things in a way that other people can understand them as well. We don’t want to alienate people by making it so personal that other people can’t understand what we’re talking about whatsoever. […] If you make it personal but a little bit oblique, then other people can draw their own interpretation.” Stevenson’s inflection and range deserve credit for much of the impact that the lyrics have. The band presents serious pop potential with every song that is great for any time of the day. It’s music that you wouldn’t be ashamed of.Their music is touching. There’s no other word for it.
Interview With A Silent Film
PNG: I guess I’ll start with how did A Silent Film meet?
Stevenson: Spencer and I used to be in competing bands at school. We both played drums.
Spencer is our drummer now. And we played this gig at school, and he was in one band and I
was in the other.
PNG: “School”, like high school?
Stevenson: Yeah, it was literally like School of Rock. [laughs] It was a normal school! But we
were both in bands, but we were in competing bands. And he won, because he’s the better
drummer. And I started being like a guitarist and a frontman. So we started like joining together.
And from there we met Ali along the way. And very, very recently we met the guitarist who’s
playing with us, James, who joined us about a month ago. So this is the freshest, most new A
Silent Film [you’ve] ever seen.
PNG: Who is your biggest influence? Like, what do you model yourself after?
Stevenson: It’s so hard. So many people, and we try to use the word “inspiration” rather than
“influence” because “influence” implies that you’re kind of perhaps imitating something. Where
as “inspiration”, you kind of take it on board, and then you do your own thing. So, the people
that really amazed me when I was growing up would be Radiohead, […] and they come from the
same town as us and they’ve always been a huge inspiration to us. I’ve always loved old sort of
60s songwriters like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and people like that. Just people that
really wrote music that will last the test of time. That’s inspiring to me.
PNG: Nice. So unfortunately Martin could not be there, but I saw you guys at Edgefest, and my
question about that is: was there anyone there who was also performing that you were really
Stevenson: We, um (laughs) we were sharing a dressing room with Paramore, but they were
coming after us.
Stevenson: I know! But basically as these things go, is that we were an early band in the day, as
you know, so we were in the dressing room, and then we were kicked out of the dressing room,
then Paramore came into the dressing room.
PNG: Well you can still say that you were in the same room as Hayley Williams… just not at the
Stevenson: Yeah, I used the same fridge. That’s my claim. (laughs)
PNG: Stagedive or mosh pit?
Stevenson: (laughs) I’ve never done either.
Stevenson: Well, I mean maybe. Okay, I’ll tell you. When I was younger, I would [have said]
mosh pit. I’m not really good with loads of people touching me, I don’t think I’d like stagediving.
It’s a little too intimate.
PNG: Uh, I don’t know why this is on here, but hardcore or screamo?
Stevenson: Ahhh! Hey, look. I don’t know the difference- both of them sound really rough to me.
I’m quite [chill]. You saw that show. I like melodies. Hardcore or screamo? They don’t seem to
sound [inaudible] to me.
PNG: Speaking of which, what can we expect for the next album?
Stevenson: I am so excited to write a new record. I mean, I don’t know, I just got to a point in my
life when I’m just so determined to do something important and make music that really matters
to people. I don’t want to follow any kind of formula or routine. And I want to surprise people
as well. It’s really important to me to not just regurgitate something you’ve done before. So
surprising and important. That’s all I’ve got to say.
PNG: What’s working with your label like?
Stevenson: We don’t have a label. We are fiercely independent. We have no, like… Some
bands seem to get themselves in a position where they sign away… basically they take a load
of money, and for that they give away a certain amount of control. So they have people that
have given them the money that tell them how their music should sound in order for them to
make more money. We just think that’s nonsense. We think it’s a [inaudible]. We don’t want
to be part of it [soon], and we very much just work our ways doing this on our own terms. It
just seems really alien to us to basically relate the making of the money to having to change
fundamentally what we do. What we do needs to be the vehicle to make the money, not the
making the money is the vehicle to change us into whatever it is they want. That’s important to
us so for that reason, we’ve rarely found label partners that can do that because they are all
about making money.
PNG: Can we do one more?
Stevenson: Yeah, shoot.
PNG: Can you talk about your writing style, and mainly the lyrics, what are the inspirations for
those? Are the artists you mentioned earlier more inspirations musically or lyrically?
Stevenson: Lyrically, definitely. Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell are two of the people that are
hugely inspirational lyrically because, like, they are just such great poets I think. And yeah, it’s
equally the music as much as the lyrics. So for us, writing is a very personal experience. We
try to just talk about things in a way that other people can understand them as well. We don’t
want to alienate people by making it so personal that other people can’t understand what we’re
talking about whatsoever. You know what I mean? If we made it so personal, then other people
wouldn’t be able to relate to it perhaps. If you make it personal but a little bit oblique, then other
people can draw their own interpretation. I think that’s really, really important.
PNG: Pretty Neat Grooves should give you a follow on Twitter. Will you follow them back?
Stevenson: Of course!
Madeline Flores is a senior at Ursuline Academy. Similar to Albert Einstein, she has no special talents – she is only passionately curious.
Martin Flores attends Jesuit College Preparatory School in Dallas,TX. He enjoys DJing EDM music, baseball and drinking water.