My first impression about SILENCER was that this was going to be some very intellectual metal that would make Queensrÿche seem stupid in comparison but thankfully that wasn’t the case. Anders Ekdahl ©2012
I gotta admit that I was a bit disappointed that you guys weren’t the Swedish black metal band Silencer because I have a goose to pick with them. How annoying is it that there are other bands with the same name still inexistence?
-Incredibly annoying, but we’ve learned to deal with it. Both ours and the Swedish Silencer’s first releases came out the same year, but they stopped there. We actually continued, and have been making music and touring for 14 years now since then but we still get confused with them, threatened by their fans to change our name and so on. I guess all press is good press, but it’s not like we’re named “Overkill” or someone else famous. I gotta say, they have legions and legions of very bored fans who like to clutter up our press releases, inboxes and comment fields. Get a life. There are a couple other much newer Silencers in the US. When we started it was much harder to research to see if another band had your name. But these new guys, come on, how freaking hard is a Google search?
When you are on your third album and it seems like you’re just known to those closest to the band where did it go wrong in the promotion of the band?
-It’s a really crowded market, and it’s a who you know industry. There are lots of good underground metal bands, but not a massive buying market for how many there are. There is so much competition for very few, commercially mediocre at best careers and opportunities with metal. We’re also from a city without a large entertainment industry presence, so everything we do is the hard way. The closest major city is seven hours away, so touring is tough but we still do it. Not having industry types local makes it very hard to connect with folks who can get bands in the right business conversations. Everything we do is by phone and e-mail. Also, our style has never really sat still, which makes it hard to market I imagine. That’s fine, as we do this for the art first and business second. But the good news is we have our biggest promotional push ever with our new album.
I take it this third album is a concept album. Is it harder to write a concept album than a regular? Does the music have to follow a theme too?
-Yes and no. You have lay the storyline out first, then fit the music to tell that storyline, so that was new to us and took some mental rewiring. If you’re trying get a certain “chapter” of the story told in a particular song then you have to write the song to sound like the subject. Like scoring a movie I imagine. But the music writing itself came very easy this time. It was very fun. We’re all hopeless, detail oriented geeks so assembling our story and timeline was great, and then music flowed pretty easy after that.
AfterWW2 we saw a race to power between The US and The Soviet Union. When you look back at it today how ridiculous does it seem now?
-I believe it’s just human nature and pretty predictable that once there is a vacuum of power that there are gonna be interested parties looking to fill that void. It obviously happened after WW2, and it’s happening now all over the world on smaller scales. The Middle East comes to mind currently. The only silly part of it to me is that how former allies became instant adversaries with us and the Russians. But unfortunately that’s not surprising either!
Never having lived with that threat of nuclear war hanging over my head I have no idea what kind or propaganda you guys were subjected to. What was so dangerous about communism?
– It was just fear of the unknown. I was kid at the tail end of the cold war, and remember communism being a very evil word. Growing up in a very capitalistic, free society one can imagine that the threat of having that taken away would make the alternative very scary. Kind of the same of how when Russia tried their hand at capitalism initially many were scared because the guaranteed food and such stopped coming. It was just different. We had nothing to worry about in one respect though, as of course it wouldn’t have gone down that way. It’s not like Russia was planning on invading our country Red Dawn style. It would have been a nuclear, zero sum game. No one would have won. Also, our entertainment industry is guilty as hell for pushing it. The propaganda wasn’t as pronounced from our government as it was rammed down our throats in the form of movie bad guys and TV shows. At least as a kid that’s where it was reinforced. It just changes with time who is the movie bad guy. It was communists for a while, then Colombian drug lords, now Middle Eastern terrorists. Just watch a current James Bond movie and see who the bad guy is. Tells what you decade you’re in.
Why did it all end in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin wall? Why there and then?
-The wall was about the most symbolic setting you could ask for. So of course that spread like wildfire from the imagery and such. Here was this little enclave of the free world surrounded by the big bad oppressor. David and Goliath. Then one day you have dudes swinging sledgehammers at it with no one stopping them. Right outta Pink Floyd folkore. People standing on the wall, singing and celebrating after having defeated the giant. I can’t see how that wouldn’t have tipped the scale in retrospect.
How much of a threat does communism play today in American society? Is Cuba really that much of a threat? The country barely holds together nowadays.
-Basically none, although if you watch a political ad these days we’re being told we’re headed down that path. McCarthy is smiling from his grave. I agree with your viewpoint on Cuba. What are they gonna do, attack us with their army of dilapidated 1940’s cars? There’s no direct threat. And there is so much rich culture there, it’s a shame they’re this poster boy for being a communist outpost. But in Cuba’s case it’s yet another symbol. A symbolic thorn we haven’t been able to remove. I suppose there is some chance that it could be a forward base for a beligerent future foe. But the US has been doing that for decades all over the world. We just like double standards. I don’t know, part of me is afraid capitalism would ruin that country. We would not restore buildings to their former glory, we would raze them and build faceless seaside condos. That’s a tough one.
When you write a concept about the Cold War how do you avoid it being too politized?
-It’s no secret we have a fascination with Soviet culture, as it pops up on most of our albums in some form. So we did tons of research and interviewed Russian friends to get a feel for what the culture was like during that period. To avoid it being too political we chose to focus more from the perspective of a participant in this whole story. What he felt, and those around him. What it might have been like to be caught up in this nationalistic, proud, countrywide push. But of course we definitely color it with differences on how that space program was run versus ours.
What concept album would you consider to be the greatest of all times?
-That’s tough! There’s kind of a holy trinity in my mind of metal concept albums. Definitely the most intricate and well thought out was Queensryche’s “Operation Mindcrime”. It’s a big bite though and I can really only listen to it when I know I’m not gonna be disturbed and can rock the whole thing. On the other end of the spectrum length wise is of course Rush’s “2112”. It manages to sound epic in a very short amount of time and convey many different emotions. Genius in its own way. Very to the point and powerful. Then of course if Maiden’s “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son”. It is the loosest of the three conceptually, something they have admitted to, but contains some absolute timeless tracks. Very, very well written, it too is diverse musically. Those three are my faves, but close on their heels is Dream Theater’s “Metropolis Pt II”. Now, if you pull out of the metal world then you’re kind of at the mercy of Pink Floyd who pretty much wrote the book on concept albums.
What plans do you have for taking this album out on the roads?
-We’re picking the best shows we can and getting in the van. Done a couple trips already, but we have some west coast dates in the works for this fall here in the US. We’ll see how those go, and possibly go east in the spring. Of course, we’ve still not made it to Europe yet but we wanna try and hook up with a festival or something, that’s my dream. Overall though the more you play, the better you get and the more offers start rolling in. So hopefully we’re in the position to be able to pick and choose a bit and still scratch that road itch. We’re very, very excited to play this album live.