an interview with josh epstein of the silent years
  • THURSDAY, JULY 23, 2009

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If you haven't given some quality headphone time to The Silent Years yet, it's about time. Last summer's release, The Globe was a lovely, elegantly crafted indie pop meditation on themes of universality, providing a hand to hold during the often-lonely tumble through the ever-expanding blackness of outer space. This summer, they've followed it up with the Let Go EP - six flawless songs that provide the perfect summer soundtrack through effortless arrangements, sweet vocals, and carefree tunes that turn every sunny stroll into a scene from a musical.

We spent some time on the phone with lead singer Josh Epstein, chatting about signing to a record label, the new EP, the age-old duality of music and lyrics, the amazingness that is Leonard Cohen, and the overabundance of stimulus. Check it out. - Nina Mashurova

Baeble: So, you guys got quite the initial DIY reputation, for creating your own artwork, your website, your videos, etc. Was this a conscious decision or did it just fall together like that?

Josh Epstein: I think that it was more a matter of necessity.

Baeble: How do you think that'll change now that you've signed to Sidecho Records?

Josh: I don't think it's going to change. We've gotten so used to it that it's really no sweat now. I've met a lot of bands that don't like to do all the stuff on all ends of it, but I think we really enjoy it now, so I think we'll be involved in every aspect of the creative process from now on just because we enjoy it.

Baeble: How did you make the decision to sign to a record label?

Josh: We felt like we had grown to the point where we needed a little bit of help, just in terms of having people sending stuff out and handling some of the other stuff. I'm starting to get really busy with some other projects and also just constantly writing for the Silent Years and touring, so it's really nice to have some help at this point.

Baeble: Let's talk about the new Let Go EP. How would you say it's different from The Globe?

Josh: I think that with the Let Go EP, we just tried to have fun and didn't think about it as much. The Globe, our last full length, was very planned because it was a concept record so we were trying to make it really cohesive, and with this EP we just decided that we wanted to write something more summery and more upbeat and we just had fun with it and didn't overthink it at all. We actually recorded it completely on our own, took our time, did most of it in our practice space, so it was really a different experience.

Baeble: It sounds more personal and happier than the earlier records.

Josh: Yea, I think so. We were all in kind of a happy place, we had finished The Globe a little bit before but it had just come out and so we were all excited that we had a record out. We weren't going to be touring for a month, so we just decided to write a little EP. I think we were all in good moods and I hope it comes across.

Baeble: Are you satisfied with how it came out?

Josh: I think so! In hindsight I think there's always things I would want to change about everything, but I think it's good and I think that I've learned from it. We're starting to record a new record in a few weeks and I'm going to use what I learned from that to make the next one better hopefully.

Baeble: What can we expect from the new material?

Josh: The new material is simpler in the melodies and we are definitely trying more things. It's gonna be way more experimental, not in terms of textures and sounds but in terms of structures and really simplifying things. I'm really excited about the new stuff, actually.

Baeble: Great, we're really excited too. I noticed you guys have a lot of Leonard Cohen quotes on your website. Would you count him as an influence?

Josh: Oh my god yea. I watched his concert in New York City at the Beacon Theater and I was just sobbing the entire time. He's so good!

Baeble: He's definitely amazing. Especially lyrically.

Josh: I think that the songs get overlooked a lot because a lot of them are really, really nice melodically, but the lyrics definitely take the forefront. But it's all pretty incredible.

Baeble: For you guys, what would you say is more important, the music or the lyrics?

Josh: I think that lyrics are the thing about a song that can help people have a personal attachment to the song, but music is the part of a song that makes it timeless. I read a Paul Simon quote where he says that there's just not many people that can do both, that can write a really nice song that's got a classic quality to it but also have lyrics that are so moving that they allow people to have a personal attachment to it. I think ultimately in the ideal world they're both equally important but a lot of people fall short on one or the other sometimes.

Baeble: The site also mentions going to Iceland, how was that?

Josh: I actually only played a radio show in Iceland, so we really didn't do a tour. But my wife is from Iceland so I go there all the time and it's like the most beautiful country in the world. It's inspiring to be there.

Baeble: What's your favorite place to tour?

Josh: You know, I love America. That sounds really overly patriotic, but I love America. It's beautiful and it's amazing how much variance there is in the land and the people. There's a little bit of everything here.

Baeble: One of my favorite tracks from the new EP is "Taking Drugs at the Amusement Park." Is that title based on personal experience?

Josh: When we were writing, I really wanted to steer clear of a concept record, but it started to take the shape of this prevailing idea that I had. The idea of speed, of information and the speed of our access to everything...everything is over-accessibility. I got to thinking about the fact that people are so overstimulated, and stimuli are taken for granted.

I was actually at an amusement park and I saw a bunch of people that I absolutely knew were on drugs. And I was thinking, isn't going to the amusement park enough stimuli for your senses? I mean, that should be in it of itself an amazing day, and these people are on drugs, and maybe it's freaking them out to be there. They felt the need to combine all these different stimuli in order to have an experience. I wasn't judging or anything, I just found that really interesting.


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Silent Years on Myspace

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