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Silver Springs : An Evening with Dreamy

America is everywhere. As consumers it seems that in order to escape our tarnished affiliation with American multinationals you have to become some sort of reclusive Naomi Klein devotee who lives on air and self-belief. Culturally, the seductiveness and quality of Americana has been too prevalent to ignore. Purveyors of all that was “swinging” about post-Thaterite Britain, Blur did a successful musical 360 into the fragmentary (and very American) world of the SONIC YOUTH brigade.

Like any cross fertilisation however, there always has to be a few Frankenstein’s monsters amongst the successful models. For example, something went horribly wrong in the translation of the (initially) smart and witty US sitcom, FRIENDS to our English screens. FRIENDS transmuted into the crotch twistingly awful comedy (and I use that in the widest sense of the word) ” Babes In The Wood ”- seemingly a forum for Denise Van Outen at the height of her self consciously saucy “ mockney” phase.

However, when Britain gets it right, what is produced is the right mix of homage and originality, when we get it wrong, we are shamed into believing our greatest cultural contribution to the world has been the deep fried Mars bar. London's SILVER SPRINGS found an equidistant point between these two cultural bases. They informed us it was only their fourth gig, and if their songs comprised solely of instrumentals it would be clear their musicality belied their inexperience. They managed to produce soundscapes that were both menacing and touching. Along the way giving an atmospheric nod to post rock and ANGELO BADLEMENTI . Breaking the spell was the vocals. As the set proceeded it became harder to reconcile the angelic music with the singer's nasal, occasionally flat vocals.

Oddly however this was the one characteristic of the band that made them recognisably English. James Hindles take on the melancholy beauty previously modelled by THE SILVER JEWS and PALACE was spot on. The band clung onto these influences but occasionally stretched out of these constraints on the Eastern twinged "Cornish Breezes"” and the toe tapping solo of "With And Without You"”.

They played a perhaps overlong set but one which made me think of a summery evening out in a field with Will Oldham, a bottle of whisky and his inbred gypsy sister/lover.

So what do we want to know about these guys? From London, SILVER SPRINGS (Rob,Amos and John) are three lads from London, currently creating their own sonic revolution in their bedrooms. Having played only four gigs in their brief career their first release is to be "Toledo" a track on the forthcoming Dreamy Records compliation. Taking a page out of free jazz,many of their songs begin as improvisations and they are not afraid to carry this ethos to the stage, As a a result, gigs like this one have proven both catastrophic and exciting.

Drawing influences as diverse as label mates Arco,slow-core legends GALAXIE 500 and 60's producer supremo, JOE MEEK, they are a band who's slow burn development will be beautiful to watch. But for now, well why not talk? Crud met the band and found them inspiring and wise beyond their years.

Crud: How did you get together?

Amos: We'd all been in other bands together before.

Rob: I knew Amos through his brother and sister, and knew that he was a drummer, so asked him to join that band. Then that band split up, but since that time Amos had started playing with John. They asked me down to one of their rehearsals and that was it!

Amos: In the band I was in with John I was stuck on drums and he was stuck singing. Compared to that (Silver Springs) is very free form When we formed (Silver Springs) we discarded that regimented way of playing

Amos: I mean I found it strange because everything (about the previous band) was just set, there was no room for experimentation.

Rob: We'd just end up playing the same songs in the same way over and over again. Which I got sick of. John: But we got really good at playing the songs!

Amos: When we got together we wanted to try different things out, try anything out. It became very hit and miss

Rob: Which is what we're like on stage! But we're working on that.

Crud: Where did the name "Silver Springs" come about? Musically the link seems to be to an obscure Fleetwood Mac b-side.

Amos: Well, on a trip to America I was on the West Coast on a trip between Baltimore and Washington, DC and we kept on passing "Silver Springs" and I liked the way the words sounded together. There is a Fleetwood Mac song called that, but it's not a reference to that.

I was attracted to the way the words "Silver Springs" looked written down on a roadside in America. Also taken out of context (of America) we thought was a good concept.

Crud: When you played at the Dreamy Records showcase, I picked up on a big American post rock influence-was this a fair judgement to make?

Amos: A lot of the people at the gig were saying (our music) was really poppy, but in our heads we a mix of influences. I mean I remember listening to a lot of 60's stuff like The Byrds, but there was a point where I got really bored with that stuff. At the same time I went to see Telstar Pony and that's when I realised there was this whole other side to music, (the side of) obscure 7inches.A lot of it about just interesting sounds, as opposed to songs.

Collectively we're into the whole Galaxie 500 stuff. They were a band who experimented with feedback but (at the same time) had nice melodies. I think that mix is what we are aiming for.

Crud: Does your writing come out of improvisation?

John: It very varied, sometimes one of us brings in a chord change or a lyric idea and we work from that. But sometimes it can go in another direction completely. For example we have gone in to record a particular song and then come out (of the studio) with ten new songs that we can't play yet.

Amos: We've got lots of ideas that we know in the future will become songs, but we don't know just yet how they'll be used.

John: The track we've got on the Dreamy compilation ("Toledo") is something we literally came up with that day.

Amos: When you experiment you can go on forever, but I think it's a challenging idea to try channel our avant- noise into a three minute pop framework. There is a whole conventional side to us as well as our experimental side. We want to meet it somewhere in the middle.

Crud: You're working on a soundtrack album (from the forthcoming film "Without A Chainsaw" by Paul Kemble) tell us about that?

Rob: It's one of my friends that I've known my whole life. He (Kemble) went to Cambridge to do English and he wrote a screenplay, and made the film. It's about five friends remeniscing, and each time they talk about the past it triggers a flashback, but everyone remembers different things. So it's about how the group of friends don't know each other as well as they thought they did.

Amos: There is a soundtrack side to us, where we enjoy the idea of making music to fit someone else's images. It's also about throwing ourselves into something we've never done before. I mean, it's pretty scary because it's not just a short it's a feature film!

Crud: Will it force you to be structured?

Rob: It gives us some sort of direction to go in. The director told us that more than a "soundtrack" he wanted the music in the film to add to the atmosphere, for it to illustrate, for example, the relationships between the characters.

Crud: The whole idea of pacifying your experimental side with the commercial side; does it extend to your thoughts on production?

Amos: We'd like to do something akin to what Phil Spector did by going from producing all those girl groups in the sixties to the Ramones in the seventies. That synthesis and progression is something that we'd like to do. John's got a digital hard disc recorder and I've got an analogue four track so we can pacify both sides of our music.

John: If we were to work with a producer (the band are currently self produced)We want to work with someone who has their own distinct sound, who can bring something to our sound. Someone like Timberland.

Amos: We'd love to have an extra set of hands that could suggest things, bring new sounds to the table.

Well boys, our table is waiting for service as we speak. Brign it on.

Interview and Review by Priya Elangasinghe


2-4-7-MUSIC.COM 2006

STILL refusing to dumb it down.

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