Releasing their second full length album 'Trust' on February 3rd 2014, Silent Front are a hardcore punk band consisting of Russ Whitehorn (bass), Phil Mann (guitar/vocals) and Gareth Thomas (drums). Silent Front was formed in the late 90s by Whitehorn & Mann and later released their debut album 2010. We caught up with drummer Gareth Thomas, who joined late in 2009. Gareth has been in a band called Mayors of Miyazaki and is currently a part of four other projects in total.
ContactMusic: How're you?
Gareth Thomas: Yeah not bad!
CM: Am I correct in thinking that the band was formed in the late 90s, and their first album (Dead Lake) was released in 2010? Did you guys ever have doubts about getting to the stage of recording a full length album?
GT: I think Russ and Phil would say that although the name of the project was put down in the late 90s, it wasn't really a real band. The first album was a bit weird because having spent so long just putting out singles to going into the studio, doing something with real bulk to it was a new experience. I think in retrospect it didn't come out as we would've liked, we didn't get the best from the songs on that album but we feel we've really made up for it with this one, the new album is something we're really proud of, so we got there in the end!
CM: The album had the track 'Confiance' which was purely instrumental and there was a bit of instrumental towards the end of 'Veil', was there any reason for selecting this style for these two tracks?
GT: Well, I think we were all really keen to add a bit of depth to the album and show we're not just a bunch of thugs and have a sensitive side I guess! We have a really broad range of influences so we just wanted to explore a different feel and also break up the onslaught from the rest of the album.
CM: When it comes to songwriting, does one member usually take charge or do you all work on it together?
GT: Yeah, we tend to write together, one of us will bring like a bass line or a riff, the rest of us will embellish it and then the lyrics will just be slapped on top. The music comes first really, although if Phil has some ideas then we can restructure to make the lyrics fit in.
What inspired - or motivated - you to create your own music?
GT: I think Russ & Phil would probably kill me for saying this, but I was 7 when I first picked up a guitar and I suppose it was just listening to all the records my dad would play like The Beatles, horrific things like Dire Straits. I dunno, the idea of playing rock music for some reason had great appeal for me, but that's just me.
So what else did you listen to growing up?
GT: I picked a lot up from what my Mum & Dad played, but the first thing I started getting into was the Brit Pop bands like early 90s stuff. I guess the Smashing Pumpkins were really big when I was growing up, but in latter years it's been more bands like Jesus Lizard who have been more inspirational - not just in terms of the music they make, but in the way they conduct themselves, the way they go about their business. I suspect the others would say something fairly different! We all have things in each other's music taste that we despise! We can't all be into the same stuff.
CM: For your new album, you worked with Function Records, what was that experience like?
GT: It's been great. They've been really organised and supportive. They're the biggest label we've worked with. All the releases we've done have been with different labels and I think it's been a conscious decision not to want to attach the band to any one particular brand or label. We've been lucky enough that a lot of D.I.Y labels have been wanting to get involved. But with Function it's still a small operation but it's bigger than anything we're used to. They'll sort the PR and the distribution and they just seemed much more organised than the others. Not to take anything away from the D.I.Y labels we've worked with. It's nice to be able to just concentrate on the music and let them deal with all the admin, it frees up our minds quite a lot.
CM: You guys have founded your own D.I.Y label Triplejump, can you tell us a bit about that?
GT: Yeah, well we're fairly active within the London D.I.Y scene and we just wanted to give a name to all the stuff that we do. We put on regular Triplejump gigs but we only really put out a couple of records for the first time in November/December - a band called death pedals from London, they're awesome! And we've done a band called Godzilla Black who are totally nuts! They have Dale Crover from The Melvins playing on their album, so that's surely reason enough to go an buy it!
CM: I've noticed the band are quite active on social networking sites, do you think being able to interact with your fans is really important?
GT: Yeah, definitely. I think it's key, especially for a band like us as we're quite low level. It's really nice to be able to have a forum where we can speak to people interested in our music. I'm not suggesting we'd ever be in a position where we'd want someone to handle that side for us if we became bigger because I quite enjoy the hands on aspect of it. Social media is a great tool in this respect.
CM: If you could collaborate with anyone, past or present, who would you choose?
GT: That is a tricky one! For me I think I'd find it intimidating to be in a room with people I respect musically. Of all the people I like and respect, it would be such a joy to be even in the same room as Andrew W.K. I could imagine making music with him would be so much fun. While I do like him and his music, he's not by any stretch my favourite, but going to see Andrew W.K is like going to mass or something! He's like a preacher and everyone's just being swept up by his majesty, it's an incredible experience.
CM: You've toured quite a lot, all over the UK and Europe, would you say it's important to travel abroad to help enhance your reputation?
GT: I'd say so. There are lots of reasons to tour Europe. It can be easier to tour in Europe than touring in the UK in terms of getting your expenses covered and stuff like that, but it's just nice to share this art that you've created. It's just about trying to expose people to our music whether they like it or not! We've spoken about going to the States and Japan, but that's really just a pipe dream, it's really expensive to fund, but in the future who knows!
What has been your favourite City to play in so far?
GT: I think we'd all say that we love Lyon, France as a city. I'm not sure what it is about the place. It's got a reputation like the Birmingham of France. It's kind of industrial and grey, but we all love that city. Paris is a really great place but it's so claustraphobic and is the city everyone thinks of when they think about France, but Lyon is the one for us!
CM:Any funny stories/anecdotes from whilst you were on tour?
GT: Tours are full of drunken japes and debauchery, so this one might be more interesting. After a show on one of our recent European tours, we were taken by the promoters to where we'd be sleeping that night. We were lead to a block of flats where one of the guys told us - "you'll stay in my grandmother's flat, she died recently, so there's no one there". The dude left us to go and stay at his own place, which didn't seem too strange as he lived fairly nearby. Though, on entering the flat, we began to grow suspicious. It was one of the creepiest places we've ever been too. The entrance hall had a really retro art-deco sort of vibe, with a green marble floor and wooden stairs. The flat itself, was full of weird stuff - music boxes, a massive cabinet of antique pens, etched portraits of deformed children. Then we checked his grandmother's bedroom, where he'd told us it was ok for us too sleep. In it was a big bed draped in pristine white sheets with a crucifix above it, and loads of framed photos of what we assumed, were his grandmother when she was younger. Usually, we'd jump at the chance to sleep in a bed, and although none of us are superstitious, we all elected to sleep on the hard wood floor in the lounge instead. Together. It's kind of hard to get across how weird this place was, but it felt a bit too much like a classic horror movie set up. Or an episode of Scooby Doo.
CM: Can you tell us about any upcoming tours?
GT: Yeah, we're doing a ten day UK tour in February, we're doing a ten day European tour in April and then we've just announced today that we'll be doing a two week tour with a band called Action Beat, and that's going to be in August, so we're looking forward to that one in particular! They're some great guys and a phenomenal band!
CM: Post 'Trust', what does the future hold for Silent Front?
GT: Good question! We've got a couple more splits to come and one might be out before the end of the year. We had a lot of time out between the first album and this one so in terms of another full length album, it could be quite a while before we have one ready. We'd like to do some other things like EP's and other sorts of releases and contribute tracks to compilations and stuff in the meantime to keep things ticking over, but not many firm plans as yet!
CM: Thanks for your time!
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