When you think of the latest sounds to appear out of Detroit, Eminem and The White Stripes are probably the first to come to mind. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that Detroit houses a thriving scene of indie music and art rock. At the forefront of this new music scene, you’ll find The Silent Years, one of the most diverse and unique indie groups to come around in a long time.
Artists often get caught up in lyric writing, attempting to focus on their words as the driving force of the song. The Silent Years take a more music-centric approach. They start with driving hooks and powerful instrumentation changes. In other words, they seek to create a sonic representation of the theme of the song, before a word even hits your ear. Lead singer Josh Epstein describes his poetic approaches to adding words to music as being “drafted and redrafted”. He feels that the pure expression of musical emotion should take the focus, and he struggles to find the perfect words to compliment it. Even with the layered, experimental sounds of their recordings, you can’t miss their live set as the band brings these sounds to the stage in a unique and organic way.
With such an authentic approach to songwriting and performance, it’s no surprise that the band is being afforded some impressive career opportunities. Recently signed to SideCho Records, the band is starting to make waves in the online scene while also building a nice list of supportive press. Bob Boilen of NPR is the newest critic to join the droves of fans lining up behind the new album, The Globe. “After one listen, I may have found my summer pop record,” he said when the band was featured on NPR’s “Song of the Day.” Recently, The Silent Years has also been featured as the “Band of the Week” in Paste Magazine and an ABC News interview. We caught up with Epstein to get his reaction to his budding celebrity status and to get more insight on his unique and ear catching approach to his music. Click through to see what he had to say:
OurStage: What was your reaction to the Paste magazine feature? Have you received
significant fan response from it?
Josh Epstein: We are always flattered and excited to be featured by blogs and
magazines, particularly those we respect so much. I don’t read our
reviews or media coverage, but am always grateful for the exposure.
Fans always get excited when Spin, Paste and the other bigger
magazines cover us, and I’m very glad.
OS: I see a lot of activity about you on the NPR site. Has this opened any
doors for the band, particularly in terms of online presence?
JE: The NPR coverage has been great for us. It has brought us a lot
closer to being a household name and has done a lot to legitimize our
music to a certain audience.
OS: I noticed that you were featured as a Sprint buzz band in their
competition. Can you tell me a little more about this process and its
importance for the band?
JE: That process was exciting as it was right as we were releasing our
first full length album. I think it was an important building block
for us, and helped expose us in the beginning.
OS: Your songs are relatable yet very unique. Can you tell me a little bit
about your songwriting process as a band? Do you write lyrics first or is
it more musically driven?
JE: The songs usually start as a folk song on an acoustic guitar or piano
and then morph into whatever they become when the band plays them.
Lyrics come last for me, as I like to consider music as the pure
emotional release and the lyrics get drafted and redrafted countless
times. I’m a poetry guy, I can’t help it.
OS: I know the different members of the band were added gradually over time.
What was the motivation for some of these additions? Did these changes
affect the sound of the band? If so, in what way?
JE: We have added some members out of desire to evolve the sound and some
due to necessity as other members moved away. Each time you add
someone new into a band, the pool of potential gets restocked. I
believe firmly that people have finite amounts that they can create
together that is exciting, and adding new people and changing line ups
prevents any staleness from occurring.
OS: What’s the biggest show you’ve played, in your opinion? What was the most
rewarding show you’ve played?
JE: The biggest show we played was at the Michigan State University
Auditorium for 2,500 people. The most rewarding show we’ve played was
probably doing an acoustic set at Rockabilly Records for our fans.
Some of them missed the set, so we did it for them again in the
parking lot. It felt very fulfilling to have such a close and
Be sure to pick up The Globe, and download their first album for free. Give these “not-so-typical” Detroit rockers some attention, because you won’t be disappointed.