This is my interview with Robert Stevenson (2nd from right), Karl Bareham (2nd from left), and Spencer Walker (far right) of A Silent Film at their show on July 16th, 2012 in Cleveland, OH. These guys were incredibly nice and some of the easiest guys to talk with. They are easily one of my favorite new bands and if you have yet to hear their new album, Sand & Snow, go out and buy it now! Here are links to the band’s videos for “Danny, Dakota, & the Wishing Well:” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jktx9Ro60cI and “You Will Leave A Mark:” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7xv8ruOUDs
CHECK OUT THIS INTERVIEW ON OUR NEW SITE: http://www.jbrinlinginterviews.com/
How are you guys?
Robert Stevenson: We’re good, good. We just played and it went really well so we’re buzzin’.
Are you enjoying Cleveland? Trying?
RS: No, no, don’t say that, Cleveland actually seems really cool. We went and did a radio show this morning, did a radio station, got in there and did it (laughs), we played some songs there and hit Whole Foods, that was really good, and then we headed here. So everything has been A+, we’re very happy.
Are you enjoying this tour so far?
Spencer Walker: The tour is endless, the tour is basically just life at the moment. We are enjoying life.
RS: I would say we are at the middle but every day we look at the schedule and more dates get added to the end of it.
Me: It just never ends.
RS: Literally, this is a never ending tour. Bob Dylan has been on a never ending tour since the 90s.
SW: Yeah, take a look at his book.
RS: We’re on our never ending tour now.
Me: Trying to break his record?
SW: Well it’s just like ‘how long have you been on the road?’ and I don’t know, we seriously just added it up today and we started at the beginning of March and have had only two and half weeks off and now we are in the middle of July.
RS: And right now, our schedule is filled until mid-September and suddenly it’s now started. We’re going to take off only a couple of weeks in September because we know we need a break otherwise we’re going to go crazy from this tour.
SW: I think when we started we met American bands and bands touring America and they were like ‘it’s insane! It never stops! We’ve been out since 2002 and it’s now 2011and I’m tired!’
Karl Bareham: This was Everclear (laughs).
SW: (Laughs) Back then we were like, ‘yeah, whatever’ and now it’s like ‘oh s**t.’ I don’t know if I can say that but you can edit it and say ‘oh…
Me: Gosh darn.
SW: Oh gosh darn!
RS: Oh gosh, Osh-kosh.
SW: You know what, five months out is actually quite heavy and I’m not sure but I think we’re doing it pretty hardcore, I’m just laying it out there. I think we’re throwing it down.
SW: We’re always willing to challenge bands if they want to take us on, it’s cool. We’ll meet you in the parking lot, after hours. Robert would be first up; he usually takes care of most of the trouble.
RS: I should say we don’t have crew to wipe our a**es. We are severely on our own and it’s hard work but it’s great.
SW: Let’s see if we can do this entire interview without having you ask another question. Let’s just keep going…So what we’re doing is really just touring the album. We recorded Sand & Snow…we were touring America last…
RS: Stop. It might be better if we allow Jeremy to ask the questions.
SW: (Laughs) Okay.
RS: Cause it might lend to a slightly more dynamic interview.
Me: It might, just maybe, we’ll have to wait and see. You’re doing a great job so far.
SW: No, no, no, I actually didn’t know the format Jeremy was intending this to be, it was rude of me…
So you’ve been on this endless tour, what is the one non-instrument item that you must bring with you?
RS: Good question.
SW: That is a good question.
KB: Face wipes.
RS: Face wipes.
KB: Bee’s Face Wipes, which apparently, you can only get from Whole Foods. I’m sure other tiny stores do it but…
Me: Probably knockoffs.
KB: CVS, Walgreens, it’s a no go.
SW: I know our sound guy, Dan, would say bocce. We had a revelation recently and we’ve been playing a lot of bocce ball.
RS: In Red Roof Hotel parking lots.
Me: In the parking lots?
SW: (Laughs) Yeah.
RS: Well in the grassy part next to it.
Me: I was going to say.
SW: They always seem to have just enough grass.
RS: We’re fortunate to usually find a Red Roof with just enough grass. For me, I’d say…
SW: C’mon you already had yours.
RS: No I was supporting Karl.
SW: You’re right.
RS: I’d say clean socks.
RS: (Laughs) I literally cannot possibly stomach
KB: A dirty sock (laughs).
RS: Uncleanliness. I can cope with anything.
Me: But you’re very particular.
SW: He’s so clean.
RS: I can cope with anything on the road as long as I just have a little bit of space to just change my socks.
SW: How many pairs of socks?
RS: I’m the world’s fastest shower-er, he (Spencer) can attest to this.
KB: I’m pretty fast.
SW: (Karl) You’re quick but he (Robert) is like 3 seconds.
RS: It’s like a whiplash.
Me: Just enough to be clean.
KB: It’s funny you mention socks because you walk around service stations with no socks on.
SW: That’s true! That’s so true! Do you ever wash your socks or do you just wear them once and throw them away?
RS: I wish I could because I have very nice socks and comfy socks but…
SW: I’m speaking to the audience, I’ve seen this guy walk around service stations, and he’s so clean and cares so much about cleanliness
KB: I just don’t get that.
SW: But then he’ll just like walk through an oil slick in his socks because there’s a period of driving where he does not put his shoes on.
SW: No shut up! It’s like three in the morning.
RS: I’ll bound daintily over the oil slick. I can put up with a little bit of dirt. It’s just human.
SW: I’ve seen you walk through oil. Oily Rob, that’s what we call you.
Me: You have come to bounding daintily.
RS: I will bound daintily over the oil slick…yeah it’s just me, my sweat, other people’s sweat, that I have a problem with. Let’s get personal.
RS: I can deal with any amount of dirt, dirt is fine, I love getting my hands dirty.
Me: But an oil slick is just fine?
RS: What’s wrong with oil? C’mon!
KB: Oil’s great but not on your feet.
SW: I have a huge problem with oil!
RS: This country is built on oil, alright!
SW: What? You want to get Geopolitical now? Your problem is, I agree, with sweat because it’s human and related to the skin.
RS: And intimacy which is ultimately my problem. It’s intimacy.
SW: See I’ll walk through…
KB: That’s your answer (laughs).
So you guys are making stops at all these truck stops and service stations, what’s your must have food?
KB: Sushi. At the moment, sushi from just anywhere.
RS: Sushi is a winner with everyone, anytime someone says ‘let’s have sushi,’ everyone goes. I have no complaint with that. I really like Subway and I don’t understand how it’s become such a thing.
RS: Because I find American food too salty, that’s my problem, which is fine, but at Subway, you can choose what you want
SW: You sure we need to go into this?
RS: And that works because I can just pack up and the bread is so pathetic, it doesn’t count as bread.
KB: It really doesn’t.
RS: Which is basically no nutrients, which is fine, so you pack it full of a salad, which is fresh! It’s not made in some evil laboratory to destroy your bowels, it’s made fresh salad and you can just pack it with salad and you’re good to go, mayonnaise.
KB: Or spinach and avocado.
RS: Mayonnaise and they’re pushing avocado.
Me: They’ve added that avocado spread.
SW: Yes to avocado.
RS: Avocado has taken over 2012 (laughs) and mayonnaise, just to repeat myself, is a killer condiment and is under-rated in America.
RS: Just the fact that you can go to McDonald’s and you can’t get the mayonnaise in the little packets p*sses me off, and drives me absolutely nuts. But with Subway you can put it all over your salad, mayonnaise, and just a little bit of their meat.
SW: I don’t know how you’re getting an interview right now, cause everything is out there. No holds barred.
Me: No worries, everything’s out, you can do that with everyone, that’s good. Rob, we will march up to McDonald’s together and demand mayonnaise.
RS: Yeah, I know! What’s going on there? You can’t have a dipping sauce of mayonnaise. I want to dip a chicken nugget in mayonnaise. Sorry, move on.
SW: Next question.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
KB: Carly Rae Jepsen.
Me: Really? Even still?
RS: Carly Rae Jepsen passed?
KB: She’s Canadian.
Me: I feel like we’re hitting that point. “Call Me Maybe” has been on the radio already for what…three months.
KB: Five years. She has actually dropped a notch on iTunes.
KB: The Katy Perry song “Wide Awake,” which is incidentally the only song she’s done that I don’t like, literally the only song.
RS: I haven’t heard about this.
Me: The only one?
RS: We really dig Katy Perry.
KB: So this is an educated review.
Me: I saw her in Pittsburgh.
SW: Great, ordering a sandwich?
Me: If only.
SW: Ordering a crap sandwich from Subway.
RS: She just happened to be at the same one?
KB: She eats sushi man! What are you talking about?
RS: Katy Perry? Eating a sandwich? Like that was the best connection we made.
SW: They have a Katy Perry thing.
Me: I understand it.
SW: I like some songs.
RS: I’m into more like the rarities and the B-sides, I’m more into the end of the album tracks like “Hummingbird Heartbeat.” You know what I mean.
KB: That’s the best song.
Me: It’s a great song.
KB: Live, in the movie, unbelievable, you wait.
RS: I can’t wait.
Me: She played that, and she played sitting on a giant swing.
KB: It’s so good.
Me: It was beautiful.
RS: Exactly. Jeremy’s breaking down, he knows it.
Me: I know, I know.
RS: It’s out.
While you’ve been on tour, who have you enjoyed to see play?
RS: We were just at the Bunbury Festival in Cincinnati and Weezer were the headline band and I had never seen Weezer when I was a kid and I was such a fan.
SW: It was so good!
RS: They played last and I had this thought in the back of my mind that there was a chance that it would be just like digging old ground but oh my lord, I was just so turned on by, Rivers was so cool, everything felt right, it was really fun.
KB: And he watched a song, he watched one of our songs.
Me: That makes it worth it, all right there.
RS: It was pretty much confirmed that he watched our last song.
KB: So surreal.
RS: We haven’t talked about this, but I think I might have constructed that by fate.
SW: Just putting out the Rivers signal. ‘I’m so into you, be into me.’
RS: (Laughs) No, no, in sound check, right, I don’t know if you noticed this but I think Rivers noticed this.
KB: He doesn’t do sound check.
RS: The stage was right by the buses and I was playing the chord of G really loud and really long and for some reason, Dan, was really winding me up and taking ages with the sound check and I went G, G, G, E minor, G.
SW: I didn’t even know! You were doing that at sound check! You did that the other day!
RS: I teased it.
SW: That’s the little riff.
RS: “The Good Life” by Weezer off Pinkerton.
Me: Absolutely! A fantastic album.
RS: As I was doing it, I was playing G, and it’s idiotic because you don’t have crew doing sound checking in front of an audience let alone me, just playing G, ‘what an idiot.’ In the whole audience, nobody got the song I was playing. Nobody would’ve got it unless they were super Weezer fans.
Me: “The Good Life” is great but “El Scorcho” on that album.
RS: No way!
SW: Right! Jeremy, like literally, I’m watching…
Me: Please tell me they played it!
KB: Oh, they did. They played it.
RS: The first words to the song were ‘god damn’ and the audience didn’t get it. But Spence and I were just like ‘Ah! God damn you half Japanese girls.’
SW: And I was tweeting on the side when they played “Tired of Sex,” which was like three before “El Scorcho,” I was basically losing my mind. That song and that album were so hugely important to us as kids. I got tweets later that night from people standing behind the artist enclosure watching me and Rob and like ‘oh my god, those guys from A Silent Film looked really weird during this set.’ (Laughs) ‘I saw them hugging each other and jumping up and down.’
RS: Now, we did not hug! I may have hugged a tree, that’s more up my alley.
SW: The two guys from A Silent Film were next to a tree, I’m just saying, I think we lost ourselves in the moment, it’s embarrassing, let’s move on, next question.
Me: Did they play a bunch of Pinkerton?
KB: They did.
RS: “El Scorcho…”
Me: They did that full album tour where they played Pinkerton and The Blue Album.
SW: Not quite, they played a ton of everything and every album had a fair representation.
RS: The guitarist, I don’t know why I don’t know the rest of their names, I think Rivers has somehow found a way to bar the other guys.
SW: Yeah but I think it’s because you kind of think…Robert is well into Woody Allen and I think actually watching Rivers is a lot like, the closest a rock star will ever be to Woody Allen as a rock star and somehow they fused and it was just like when you were watching that stage, you were watching Woody Allen play guitar and covering Weezer right now.
RS: Kind of, yeah. It’s the baggy…
SW: It’s the baggy trousers!
KB: It was the introduction, he was like ‘my name is Rivers and I like to think we’re called Weezer.’ That’s what he said.
SW: What’s up with that?
RS: Such a weird thing to say. Anyway, it was a total event. What’s the song off the album after Pinkerton?
SW: It’s just called The Green Album.
RS: What song did he say ‘the guitarist is going to sing this’ and he just took off? It wasn’t “Hash Pipe.”
SW: No, no, I can’t believe I said that, we’re thinking of Maladroit.
RS: It’s a really nice song that I’ve always felt is an under-rated one by them. When he did something like that, they sounded f**king amazing. Then Rivers was walking through the crowd under spotlight playing guitar even though he just turned it over to the band.
SW: That was so low. The guitarist was just in the shadows playing the song and Rivers is surrounded by people and all the cameras are on him.
RS: It was a very peculiar move.
Me: I’m going to give the guitarist a shot, while I go over here and shine!
RS: And they had people, what are those hand movements for deaf people?
SW: Sign language, they had people signing.
RS: They had people signing live in the artist enclosure next to us. We just wanted to run in and go ‘hey!’
SW: There’s someone live signing on the stage, of course, it’s Weezer.
RS: If they have big screens with their faces on them, they will have someone signing, it’s the wonderful humanistic thing to do. We had a great night.
SW: It was a great night.
RS: To answer your question. That’s one of the best we’ve seen recently.
KB: That one answer was longer than most interviews.
RS: You’re going to have fun editing this Jeremy.
SW: I’ve actually forgotten who I am.
Me: We all have at some point.
RS: This went down very quickly.
During your live shows, do you have a favorite song to perform live?
KB: I like getting to the end. (Laughs) I like when the pressure goes and you just feel free and you feel like you hit a home run.
RS: With the way the set is set up and yes we are playing kind of the same set each night, we really want to get good at what we’re doing but if we keep switching the set up everything feels a bit shambled. We’re trying to get the set really, really good until we feel like changing it. The finale of the set feels like a killer home run for us.
SW: When he (Robert) goes to guitar, I feel like…
Me: With “Anastasia” and then eventually to “Firefly”
KB: Yeah, there you go. I think “Anastasia” is really what…
RS: When “Anastasia” comes, I feel like ‘oh this is going to be good.’ I’m getting a bad vibe off you (Spencer) during “Firefly.” You look like you’re crying.
SW: I’m not crying. It’s just sweat. I don’t cry.
Me: He’s working up a storm back there.
RS: I know, I know, but I feel like he’s genuinely upset. If you’re that upset, go home, take a break. You look genuinely upset by the end of our set.
SW: I didn’t know what you were vibe-ing to me because I found myself staring at your eyes.
RS: I sat down for the first half of “Firefly,” which I don’t normally do.
SW: I stared at you for like 50 seconds straight. Literally, without a blink.
RS: I was concentrating on the lyrics and I look to see you intently staring at me and it kind of put me off. (Laughs)
SW: It hit like 50 seconds and I was like ‘maybe, I’m actually putting him off. I’m intensely in this moment but it’s occurring to me that he’s not in this moment and I’m actually detracting from the set so I’ll just drum a thing and stare at my snare drum again.’
RS: We’re all there for you, it’s okay.
SW: And Karl’s all like, ‘hey man, check me out, I’m, vibe-ing over here.’ And then Ali’s all like ‘hey, just playing the bass over here.’
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
KB: Don’t bother.
RS: (Laughs) Oh, Karl!
KB: Just don’t.
RS: Be really sure that although you kind of want to do it yourself, have an open mind to what another people need from an artist. It seems to be quite cliché what I fell into growing up and I thought it was just about me and that’s a really frustrating place to be. You think you are somehow entitled to be successful because you’ve seen the driven path by a number of people that made it happen so easily. Obviously, when people are really talented, it is an easy path but you can’t be super talented from the day you go because you have to work at it and if you work at it you need to be responsible to not only your needs but the needs of an audience and those that work around you. I think it takes a lot more than one man’s ambition. So you have to be part of the team and willing to listen and respond to everything.
SW: Get a really good drummer. (Laughs) That’s the foundation of every band.
KB: Get loads of guitar pedals.
SW: Don’t actually get a guitarist, just load up on pedals.
KB: Definitely turn your amps up really loud.
SW: As loud as you can.
KB: It sounds better when it’s louder.
SW: And when you play a guitar, call it an ax because that goes down well.
KB: And always ask for more kick drum in the monitor, there’s never enough. Unless it’s knocking you over, it’s not loud enough.
SW: Treat crew really badly, when you’re at a festival because that goes over really good. Treat them like dirt and weirdly, they respond to it.
KB: When someone is plugging cables in, play drums around him.
SW: Follow him around the drum.
KB: He wants to hear it. He wants to know what sound it makes.
SW: ‘Is this a rack tom?’ ‘Yeah, it’s a rack tom to the face.’
KB: Definitely do that.
SW: Go on stage late.
KB: Steal stuff from venues.
SW: Steal cables especially, that goes over really well.
RS: In the dressing room, when they leave you tons of food, just eat a little of everything and throw the rest and then stamp it into the floor.
SW: Go on late, come off late, and act like you don’t know why it matters and why it’s a problem.
If you could give yourself advice 5 years ago, what would you say?
RS: Oh god!
KB: I wake up thinking about that!
SW: No, shave tighter, like it doesn’t look good all the way down the neck. (Laughs) I made that mistake for two years.
Me: The movers and shakers.
SW: It was rubbish because I was a late developer with facial hair and I wish I would have shaved tighter. Now I do, I shave right up there. Like you (Karl) look actually way better but your beard…
KB: Is a good beard.
SW: It’s probably the best beard…
KB: In the world.
SW: That I’ve ever known. One day, we will go to the beard championships and you’ll be number one and I’ll be your trainer.
KB: Mine’s a longer thing, it’s a long conversation but you know when you’re in school and a girl looks at you and laughs and you think she’s laughing at you? She’s actually laughing because she’s too nervous to talk to you. She’s laughing with her friends. That can carry on with you for your entire life. So don’t let girls intimidate you when they’re laughing because they probably just want to talk to you. My uncle taught me that. The second thing he told me was to always ask the hottest girl out because everyone is too scared to ask her out and so she’ll never be asked out. So get the balls to do it and ask her out, sometimes it’s a no and sometimes it’s a yes.
RS: Either way, you’ll look like the bee’s knees for having the guts to do that.
If you could co-write for an entire day with anyone, who would it be and why?
RS: Rihanna, Katy Perry, Beyoncé.
RS: All that. Honestly, we know what we do and we want to keep doing it but if something we do crosses over into something like that, it’ll be pure energy and fun and we love that.
It’s Karaoke Night, what’s your song?
RS: Rihanna, Katy Perry… (laughs)
SW: For me, it’s actually a duet, it’s “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.”
Me: Rufus Wainwright did a version of it right?
RS: (Laughs) He did a version of it.
Me: Neil Diamond did the original, I know.
SW: Honestly, don’t make me burn your face off. C’mon.
Me: I’m sorry.
SW: I would do the original with my brother and we would argue over who would take the better harmony and neither of us can hit the top harmony so it would be a disaster but it would be fun. Maybe “Endless Love” actually, as well, I’m more of a duet guy but…
KB: I’ve actually never done karaoke, I’ve never encountered it.
Me: Yet. When you do, what’s the song?
RS: I’d do something horrendous. This is good, you (Karl) just opened yourself up to a world of pain.
KB: When we go to Japan, that’s when things will change because that’s where karaoke is everywhere.
RS: I’d probably do something like “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers.
KB: Ah, c’mon.
RS: And everyone would boo me, just like Spencer did. That’s exactly what would happen. I’m okay with that, I love to be the villain honestly. I identified with Alan Rickman in Robin Hood, to hell with Kevin Costner.
SW: So good. The last time I did karaoke, FYI, I did Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It,” the worst karaoke song choice in the world because it’s a four minute track with 43 seconds worth of lyrics.
KB: I’ll probably do “Gin & Juice” by Snoop Dogg. I could probably do that, flawlessly without the screen.
What concert have you been to that has changed your life?
RS: Oh! My goodness!
SW: Little Feet, age five, changed my life.
RS: Nobody understands Little Feet, it doesn’t relate!
SW: Shut your face! Little Feet, age five years old. Richie Hayward, the best drummer in the world, who recently passed away. It was the saddest thing ever. I got to see him a lot of times. He taught me what I know and I feel like I didn’t take his teaching far enough in that he never taught me and I never learned but I love him.
RS: I don’t think you should beat yourself up, I think you took every good thing from his legacy.
SW: I’m going to cry.
KB: Aside from when I was really young, I would say maybe Tori Amos.
RS: That’s a good one.
KB: She played in a place called the Hammersmith Apollo in London and it pretty awesome. It was her, a drummer, and a bass player. It was amazing. I can very rarely sit through something two and a half hours long.
Me: That’s almost on the Bruce Springsteen level.
KB: Yes and if you can watch a show for that long and not feel as though you want to be somewhere else, that’s a pretty big deal.
SW: Can I just say what else is a pretty big deal, I don’t know if people will ever see these but Jeremy’s shoe has a massive hole in it.
Me: It’s a massive hole.
KB: It’s like a flap almost.
SW: I can see his toe and it’s almost like it’s speaking to me.
KB: It’s like a frog.
SW: That’s been happening.
RS: Kind of like a Sesame Street muppet.
What are your plans for the future?
RS: We’re going to write a record that’s ten times better than Sand & Snow.
RS: (Laughs) That’s very flattering to say so but it doesn’t even cross my mind that anything else is on the agenda. I know that we have to now promote this record and that’s what we have to do and we love doing that but the eyes are on the prize and that’s to write the best record that’s ever been made.
SW: Robert is really ambitious and it’s awesome. I want a home and a family but it’s nothing if you don’t have freedom. So I’m going to take a page out of Mel Gibson’s book and I’m going to raid the English. (Laughs) I’m going South. I’m going to raise an army. You want to come?
KB: I’ll be good with a shield.
RS: Get some face paint.
SW: It’s going to be sweet.
RS: I’m going to meet them in York.
KB: There’s actually a shipwreck scuba dive you can do near Japan, somewhere off the coast, I want to do that. That’s it.
SW: Varied. It sounds like the band might not actually continue (laughs). Individually, it sounds like we’re going to have some pretty sweet lives.
RS: (Laughs) I’ll be on my own making records over here.
KB: Just need one day off on tour and I’m yours.