Silent Lions returns to Dayton with The Compartments
By Zach Rogers
Photo: Silent Lions performs at Blind Bob’s on March 16; photo: Doug Coombe
In 2012, Toledo/Detroit-based duo Silent Lions released their debut EP, The Parliaments. Full of fuzzed-out bass, pounding rhythms and swirling, atmospheric singing, the group – consisting of bassist/vocalist/effects wizard Dean Tartaglia and drummer Matt Klein – toured heavily behind the EP, perfecting their sound at every show. After building some buzz and gaining a ton of momentum, Silent Lions return with The Compartments, their second EP released on Jan. 14. On Sunday, March 16, the band will bring their live set to Blind Bob’s in support of the EP, which picks up right where the last EP left off, and shows just how much touring can help define and shape a young band.
“We hadn’t even played our first show yet when we recorded the first EP,” Tartaglia said. “This time around, we wanted to showcase just how much of a live band we are now, and we recorded most of the EP in a room together live, which took about a week or so to finish up.”
The band recorded with producer Zach Shipps, who has more or less become the group’s unofficial/official third member. Think of Shipps as kind of like the George Martin to their Beatles, or the Nigel Godrich to their Radiohead or the Dave Fridmann to their Flaming Lips – you get the idea.
“He’s got a pretty huge role in what we’re doing,” Tartaglia said. “He’s got the same like-minded vision we have for the group and he’s always pushed us to think outside the box a little more and expand our sound, especially with this new EP. Without him, who knows what we would have ended up sounding like?”
The Compartments is a six-song set compared to The Parliaments’ four, and from left to right comes a collection of different influences: the spacey, psychedelic fuzziness of early ’70s Hawkwind, the heavy metal sludginess of mid-era Black Sabbath and even a little Hall and Oates harmony blended into a few places. Their sound is thick, their grooves dynamic and their vocals soulful and rich. Highlights include opening track “Runnin’ Me Down,” lead single “Stolen in the Heat of the Moment” and album closer, “Space in Time.” On “Stolen,” the band locks into an instrumental breakdown that plays on their live strengths and energetic might. There’s even some dancing to be had, most notably on the song “Crash & Burn.”
“We wanted to experiment more with different genres this time because I think we realized with such a distinct instrumentation we could write any kind of song and it could still sound like us, which was really quite liberating,” Tartaglia said.
Before the release, the band found time to shoot a video for the single “Stolen in the Heat of the Moment.” It was a simple concept: shoot the band singing and playing the song, then douse it all in layers of psychedelic video effects, leaving viewers in a slight haze.
“We had our buddy Ben Snyder direct the video, and besides all the effects, the main focus was to show people the kind of energy we put into our live shows,” Tartaglia said. “It’s pretty representative, and to give people a little imagery to go along with the music is important to us as a group.”
Although the band has been active with loads of touring between the two EPs, the hard work seems to be paying off. The Compartments managed to gain a lot of attention from a number of different music blogs and publications – and it’s well-deserved. Silent Lions is a very hands-on group, managing everything from booking tour dates to scheduling press interviews on their own. If it seems like Silent Lions never stops, it’s because they don’t. Their stop in Dayton is part of an extension of tour dates in support of The Compartments. Initially a 24-date gig, the band later added more stops in order to hit cities and places they would have missed otherwise.
“We think it’s important for a young band to get out there and play as much as possible,” Tartaglia said. “We’ve met so many different people along the way, and without touring that just wouldn’t have happened. It can be scary getting out there for the first time and worrying about all the different things that can go wrong, but to put in the effort and see it pay off is a really amazing feeling.”
They have certainly come a long way, but for Silent Lions it’s only the beginning.
“I feel like, as a band, we haven’t even reached the peak of our sound yet, and we’ve been writing even more new stuff we can’t wait to work on. Hopefully we’ll get back in the studio soon and start recording our first full-length album. It’s always hard to plan ahead like that, but I definitely think we’re ready.”
Silent Lions will perform on Sunday, March 16 at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St. Also on the bill is Sport Fishing USA. Doors at 9 p.m. Admission is $5 for 21 & up. For more information, please visit silentlions.bandcamp.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Zach Rogers at ZachRogers@DaytonCityPaper.com.