Silent Theory is a band that is coming back with a fierce readiness for what is next. The new single “Before the Storm” is one that is harsh and tears at your heart strings. The band is working on a new album to follow up Delusions. Speaking with Robert James, guitarist from Silent Theory, was my pleasure. Here is what we chatted about.
Tiffini: How did Silent Theory begin?
Robert: Silent Theory, we are out here in Moscow, Idaho, which usually raises the question of where that is, it’s about an hour or so outside of Coeur D’Alene, if you ever look at a map. The way we got started, it has been about ten years ago when I first met Mitch. I moved out to the area to go to college and eventually I did that, I suppose. Mitch and I were working together and just sharing different stories about music and this that and the other, found a real camaraderie in that. Then he comes to tell me he is playing in this band called Faded at the time and they were looking for a bass player and just so happens I play the bass. He and I started playing music together with that group and had a good time. Did that for a couple of years, that project kind of ran its course. Towards the end of that project, Scott had come in on lead guitar, it was moving in a good direction but like I said it had run its course. When we finished that project, we kind of sat around and had the conversation of do we want to keep doing this, do we think this is still fun, do we have stuff left in the tank and we decided that we really did. We really wanted to keep pursuing music and so we started the new project with a few line-up changes.
Tiffini: How did the band come up with the name Silent Theory?
Robert: People always ask about the name and I wish I had a better story for it. Recently we had a conversation at a Mexican food restaurant, and we were like delicious food and margaritas. We were sitting around for about four hours spit balling names. It was like well what about this, and then we would google it and no, and then well what about this, no that’s just stupid. Finally, I don’t remember who said it, just out of nowhere someone says Silent Theory and we all just kind of sat around for a while staring at each other and well yeah, I really like it, and that is how we got the name.
Tiffini: Being a band from Idaho, what is the rock scene like?
Robert: The Spokane/Coeur D’Alene area has always had an active rock scene. I think it is pretty under appreciated. To be fair it is a little divisive, no middle ground. There is like a lot of bohemian, white boy reggae, that kind of fun type music and then on the other end you have the serious hard-core metal heads, stuff like that. There is not a lot of in between. In the last however many years we have been playing, I think there has been this real cool more like merge, so like somewhere in the middle is where you find us and some of the other bands that we really enjoy playing with who are doing really great things. I think some people are starting to take notice, but I think it’s difficult in a lot of ways in the country. The music scene is really kind of struggling with the technology and sciences the way things are, but I think it hanging in there and doing well up in our area.
Tiffini: There is so much technology and sciences that has been develop in the past few years, for example YouTube, what do you think is the pros and the cons of it all in music?
Robert: I think there is a lot of both. I think there is a lot of cool tools out there available. I mean even something as simple as Facebook being like able to promote your shows on that kind of platform. I think one of the coolest things that we really enjoy about social media is that we now have a fan base in places that we haven’t had the opportunity to tour to and we otherwise would not have been able to. For example, we have a pretty strong following in Brazil and stuff like that which is unbelievable and so cool because without the internet there is no way we could have ever gotten our music to Brazil at this point. The adverse side of it I think is becoming unfortunateness of it is becoming easier to promote and things like that has kind of flooded the market so to speak. I think its cool that everybody has an equal shot now, where as back in the day, in the sixties or whatever, it was just whoever had the money to buy there way on to the radio. So, I mean it’s cool but at the same time it is at times make it a little different kind of struggle trying to wade through the sea of so many bands and so many songs like that out there.
Tiffini: When it comes to making records now, with Spotify, with iTunes with all this stuff going on, you can literally just release singles now, is that something good or do you all like delivering a full-blown compilation album? Which do you prefer?
Robert: We both individually and as a group are very much album people. I love getting a new CD or record or something like that putting it on listening front to back, just how I enjoy music. Our goal will always be to put out a whole album. That being said if we get in the studio, if we think there is only five or six songs that are really the best, we will release an EP or something, but I think the goal will always be to do an album, if we can do it without forcing it.
Tiffini: What do you think about the resurgence of vinyl?
Robert: I think its awesome! It makes me really happy inside because I have always had this love of records. I think you experience music a little bit different when you have to walk across the room and carefully set it on there and then like learning to put a needle on a record without completely destroying both of them is a talent that I think a lot of people should learn. There is just a certain warmth to listening to records that I really enjoy.
Tiffini: Who would you want to be the artist for your vinyl for this next record? For your album art, hypothetical living or dead?
Robert: That’s tough, there is a lot of great people out there. Honestly, I think it would be kind of cool to have somebody do something really obscure. Like an Andy Warhol type pictures. Something when you are looking at it, you’re like why am I looking at that and then you continue looking at it for an extended period of time. I think something like that would be really cool, just something out there and weird. I think that would kind of fit our personalities a little bit.
Tiffini: Going back a few years, there is a song that is on rock band “Living the Dream” how did that come about?
Robert: It wasn’t anything we intentionally set out to do. When we were recording our first album Black tie Affair, we recorded it and we were like going to push that as a single and we started looking at our distribution and stuff like that for the single, it was like one of those we got the call hey would you be interested in this, we are interested in the song. At first, we really didn’t think it was legit because you know how many times does a video game people call you and just this that and the other. Then we signed the necessary paperwork with the people and agreed like that. Then we didn’t hear anything for a really long time and then just out of nowhere one day we get an email with a link that said hey check this out let us know if you have any feedback and it was a private YouTube video with the video game developers. Our song on Rock Band and they were playing through it and stuff like that. It was a very surreal experience, its cool. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people don’t play that game anymore but if you do, I think you should go check it out, its cool.
Tiffini: What kind of guitar do you play? What kind of bass do you play?
Robert: Currently a PRS Tremonti and I love it. Mark Tremonti in my opinion has always had some of the best guitar tone. It’s just deep and heavy and stuff like that. But really articulate like you can hear everything is playing, and its not muddled. It hits all the right notes for me.
Then when I was playing bass, I had like an Epiphone Thunderbird that I really enjoyed. Same kind of think it had those deep kinds of tones that came through in a really clear way that I really enjoyed.
Tiffini: Who inspires you? Inspiration from the time you began until now.
Robert: It’s hard to narrow it down. I think what makes Silent Theory cool is individually and as a group Silent Theory we have a lot of diverse influences. I think it really comes through in the music.
For me, a lot of my formative years when I first started playing music I was listening to a lot of lighter rock, a lot of the pop punk and that kind of stuff. At the same time, I was also listening to a lot of Metallica. I think there is different types of talent in those different styles of music, you like the pop punk, the Warp tour type music, has a lot of good energy and phenomenal stage presence and stuff like that. Then where Metallica is most obviously writing the most intricate, just the most interesting music stuff. I’ve always found beauty in both ends of that spectrum. As far as like bands today, I don’t know, there is a lot of bands, I think Nothing More is a band that pops to my head. Their making music that is so powerful and it sounds like what you expect it to, at the same time their doing all these cool unique things and pushing boundaries. I don’t even know how to describe that rig that singer plays, its like a platform. Their willing to do weird stuff and make it work. I love that.
Tiffini: The song “Before the Storm”, it is powerful, in today’s world it is like asking the question what’s next, is it intentional within the song or did it just happen, is that what the band was going for?
Robert: A little bit of both. It feels like every day is a big question mark, more so than it has been in some versions of the past. The song specifically was inspired by this ongoing epidemic with just controlled substances, drugs have never been shocking to people they have always kind of been there but what is baffling to us is like this opioid thing that is going on. It is mostly driven by prescription drugs like big pharma and all these other things, it’s amazing on how this problem has gotten so big because people kind of turned a blind eye to it because it’s like well you know it’s from a doctor, its medicine and stuff like that, it is not that bad. It crazy, it has gotten so bad and everyone is aware of it, but it feels like no one is really doing anything about it, just talking about it and stuff. We are very much a band that is influenced by what is going on around us. It is hard not to be. It is one of those things we kept seeing in our newsfeeds and heating about both on a national scale. Also, Idaho kind of has a reputation for bad drug things and stuff like that, it’s one of those things that hit close to home.
Tiffini: Is the band working with any organization or anything like that to help change legislation? Is it something you all have thought about or is that something that you want to stay away from, as far as it being to political?
Robert: We aren’t currently. It is definitely something we would be open to. We are very much in the spirit like if anybody who wants to get help and needs a helping hand and we can do something about it we would definitely put our hand out and help. But we are currently not working with anybody specific. If you do watch the video, we do have the hotline at the end of it and stuff like that. We thought that was the least we could do.
Tiffini: What do you think could change as far as the opioid crisis and the mental health system goes? Do you think it is something that needs to be talked about more because people think it is taboo? Do you think there is something that could be stated more?
Robert: Yeah, I think it is a little bit of all those things. I think we are making good progress as far as like talking about it more because as long as history has been going on mental health has always been this kind of taboo stigmatic thing in society like, people just don’t talk about it. It is something that affects so many people and honestly whether they realize it or not.
Speaking from experience, like there is so many things in my life, like once I started attributing them to like anxiety and depression, things like that. You know its like my eyes kind of opened up like, oh ok so like these are all affecting things, its not that I necessarily feel, well I was just like no that’s not me, I’m not one of those people but it turns out I am, and it is what it is. But its because there is this cloak over it that you’re not allowed to have certain feelings or things and I think unfortunately that kind of drives people to self-medicate with either alcohol or drugs and things like that. So, I definitely think if we can kind of make more normal maybe hopefully people won’t feel so left alone and pushed off into the outskirts of society where you must self-medicate stuff and you know go get proper treatment.
I think there is a lot of things we can do just even on a small level on a day to day just being nice to each other, I think it could have a huge impact on the world around us.
Tiffini: When the band first started playing in different areas and venues, was there one goal that you wanted to play?
Robert: This last summer we kind of fulfilled a pretty big goal of ours by playing Rocklahoma. To be a part of something that big and that unique to the rock community was really cool cause you show up and its just you know 100,000 people or however many people were there with one purpose like have a good time and listen to some really cool rock music. It was a cool environment to be in.
As far as like destinations, I don’t know if we have like one destination, we just like have to play. I think we just want to go as many places as our music will take us so we can meet as many people as possible. We are all about fans and experiences and stuff like that. We love going on the road because it gives us a chance to meet new people and introduce new people to our music. That is a large part of what keeps us going.
Tiffini: When out on tour is there a song that you love but sometimes don’t get to play?
Robert: I don’t think we have ever been to close off with our setlist. I think we just very much play the songs that we feel like playing. There are a few songs that are a little bit slower that we work into our set. One in particular if you listen to our album “Delusions” there is a song called Alice on there and we play that at almost every show, even though it’s kind of slows the whole set down. It changes the mood a little but it’s a really important song because Dakota wrote that song when his sister was in the hospital and was really sick and we kind of wrote that song for her and stuff like that. It really means something special to him and it’s a cool song and we always make it a point to include that song. I don’t think we have ever excluded anything for any real reason other than we just didn’t feel like playing it that day.
Tiffini: A fun question now, Slayer or Anthrax?
Robert: I do like Slayer because I don’t feel like you can be in public and talk about them without like at the top of your lungs fucking Slayer! I also think Scott Ian is one of the funniest random people in the music industry. Down to the music, honestly, I think that Anthrax is a band that I would be more likely to pop into the player. I think they are both great, I think they both make phenomenal music.
Tiffini: What does the tour look like for Silent Theory this year? What’s up with Silent Theory?
Robert: We are still kind of hammering down a bunch of things, so it’s not quite ready to release yet. We are very much working on this summer, we really want to hit the road and go play some music.
We are getting some songs written and getting them recorded. Hopefully finish recording and already to go to the summer with. The people that have been with Silent Theory have been listening to the album Delusions for about two years now and we think they deserve some new music for their CD player. We are trying to make that priority.
Tiffini: Do you have an album name yet?
Robert: It is still in the early stages we have a few ideas that we have kicked around that we think would be cool album names but at the same time we don’t really want to name until we finish it. We don’t want to coheres the song writing and stuff like that. It should be hopefully coming in the next few months, we will start promoting and pushing stuff out. We are really excited about it, the new songs we are writing we are really excited about.
Tiffini: What has been one of your favorite experiences with Silent Theory?
Robert: I think honestly my favorite experience, year in and year out, is just meeting fans. We always make it a point to like hang out at the merch table when we go to shows and stuff like that. I think its really cool hearing people’s stories about, like their personal struggles and they feel our music helps identify them with or whatever. People talk to us about how our music has affected them, its cool. For me it’s kind of validates what we are doing and feels like we are doing something right. It’s cool just to be able to have an honest conversation with people about something. It’s really neat to reach people in that way with our music.
Tiffini: Is there an experience that you guys haven’t experienced that you would love to experience as a band?
Robert: The Download Festival in the U.K.
Tiffini: Why has it been a couple of years since Silent Theory has released a new album?
Robert: We really believe in the songs we put on Delusions, we put a lot of time and effort into writing those songs. We did not want to rush the process of the nest album. We’ve actually been working on stuff here and there, but we really wanted to work Delusions as much as possible and get it out to as many people as possible and stuff. It seemed like every time we were like ok, maybe it is starting to wind down and stuff like that, something would catch new wind and stuff like that. It was continuing to be successful and we didn’t want to rush the process just to get something new out.
Tiffini: Do you think there is going to be a new maturity to this album that Silent Theory is working on?
Robert: I think there will be some. We feel like you should always be revolving and changing and trying to grow somehow. Whether it’s just trying new things or whatever it is. I think you will see a little more complexity to the songs we are writing but at the same time I think we will always stay true to at least the core sound that is Silent Theory. I think if you liked Delusions you will definitely like this new album. We are not going to take a complete left turn and go away from rock or anything like that.
Tiffini: Is there a band that Silent Theory has never toured with that you would like to? Living or dead.
Robert: There are so many bands that I think we would love to have toured with. Especially if you are thinking like living or dead across the space and time. I think if you could tour with bands like Van Halen and Motely Crue in their hay day I think that would be an unforgettable or maybe a forgettable experience, depends on just see how it goes.
Honestly, I think if there are any bands currently making music that we could tour with, I think we would really relish the opportunity to tour with somebody like Chevelle or Nothing More something like that, somebody whose doing some of the same thing we’re doing whose music has grown but they’re still very definitively them, and honestly some of those bands put on a phenomenal live show and people really enjoy going to the concerts. So, I think it would be a fun environment to be around those guys.
Tiffini: In ten years where do you see yourself?
Robert: Hopefully still making new music. This industry, unfortunately, is very volatile you never know who’s going to survive another album and stuff like that. I would like to hope that we’re still making new music and still touring, making new fans and stuff like that. I don’t know if I want to project anything like specific levels because I think its one of those things where we are having a good time and making good music, we are in it.
Tiffini: When you come off tour and at home is there anything particular you like to do?
Robert: The last couple of years, my girlfriend and I are remodeling a house, most days it’s fun, some days is an absolute nightmare. I think as a group we play quite a bit of golf, well except for Scott he hates golf, but the rest of us really enjoy playing golf. I think we do a lot of that whenever the weather allows.
Tiffini: Is there a state you guys have never played that you want to?
Robert: Yeah, there is a few. We have gone on a couple of good size tours where we play a lot of phenomenal places, and somehow, we have never actually made it to the east coast. I think the closest we got was last summer we played Metal in the Mountains in West Virginia. We just never been able to get past the Appalachian Mountains, that’s our current flesh hold, I think we would love to play somewhere like Boston, that is one of Mitch’s favorite places he has ever visited, and it has such cool music history and stuff. Any number of places on the east coast. The nice thing about the east coast is that they are all relatively short driving distance from each other and stuff like that, as where out here on the west coast everything seems like it is so much further apart.
Tiffini: What has been the worst situation for you guys out on the road?
Robert: Probably this last tour, so we had a tour bus that we affectionately named Millie, just because she was old and grumpy, to be fair she had taken us a lot of places, we had seen a lot of the country with her. This last tour she just started having some issues and then at one point we broke down in like Bloomington, IL and got it up and running. It was one of those it wasn’t a great fix, but it was like good enough. We made a few more tour stops and stuff like that and then we were on our way to Grand Junction, CO and we broke down in Denver and that was the death nail for Millie. We ended up having to, because we couldn’t get her fixed, we ended up saleing her for two thousand dollars to some random guy, I don’t know what he was going to do with it, but we basically begged him to buy her from us, so we didn’t have to like abandon it somewhere. We rented a U-Haul and a car and drove to Grand Junction and thankfully that was our last road show of the tour, we had one at home after everything else and so thankfully we just had to hit Grand Junction and get home. That was a pretty rough experience.
Tiffini: If you guys could cover any song, what would it be?
Robert: We pretty frequently work different covers into our live shows just cause we think it’s fun and we like to homage to bands that we really like. For the last ling while we were playing Suck My Kiss by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, that was a fun one. At one point many years ago we toyed with the idea of releasing a cover of Whole Lotta Love by Led Zepplin because for a while we had been doing a cover and it was pretty good, it always got a good reaction at shows and stuff, but we never pulled the trigger that.
Tiffini: What advice would you give to young up and coming artists in the music industry?
Robert: It’s called the music business for a reason like it is very much a business and you do have to take a lot of things seriously. You got to be always paying attention to who’s trying to help you out/who is trying to take advantage of you. You got to be on your toes and you got to work hard. This doesn’t happen by accident, you have to put the hours in. At the same time, my biggest advice for younger bands who are wanting to do this, I would honestly don’t forget why you started, you started playing music because it was fun because you wanted to have a good time, don’t forget that it’s fun. Because it is really easy to lose sight of that, it is really easy to get sidetracked by the business side of things and caught up in the less desirable things which sometimes happens. You have to keep a good attitude, just when you get that chance to step off stage make the most of it and have a good time, put on a great show.
Tiffini: Is there a country you guys would like to tour in this year?
Robert: If money wasn’t an issue, and all things considered I think it would be a toss up because you could hit a huge circuit in Europe, like the music scene is still very much alive in Europe and I think that is really cool. Honestly, the amount of fan interaction that we have had and the different things that we have seen online I feel like we would have to go to do something in Brazil for some of the fans down there because they have been very supportive. Its blown us away the amount of support that we have gotten and the amount of people that have signed on to be Silent Theory fans that is out of Brazil.
Tiffini: Anything you want to say?
Robert: One big announcement we do have is that we have recently started working with Paul Crosby, the original drummer of Saliva, we are really excited about it.
We are working on new music and we are looking at early spring or early summer, we have a lot of great fans who have supported us this far in the last two years they’ve been listening to Delusions and stuff so I’m sure they are ready for something new. If you want to stay up to date with Silent Theory you can check us out on all the major social medias, we are not the best but we are active on them. We don’t necessarily post every single day but when fans message us and we try to usually write back, we really enjoy interacting with the fans in that way. If you go to SilentTheory.com you can find links to all our social medias, there is also a link to our store, which is SilentTheorystore.com, there you can buy physical copy of Delusions and also buy some really sweet swag. There is a lot of exciting stuff coming up in the near future and the social media people can go out and push that big blue thumb and stuff because it gives us that warm cozy feeling inside and also makes us look good.
Tiffini: How has the experience of working with Paul Crosby been?
Robert: It has been phenomenal. He’s been a really cool guy to talk to, he has been really helpful and for those people who do not know he’s recently gotten into like A&R type management and , that kind of stuff. So, we are working with him in that kind of facet. We are really excited about it. It is really one of those when he first messaged us, Mitch and I had a full conversation before we responded to him about whether or not we thought it was real or not. It was like this guys a spam account, this is fake but the whole time we are just secretly are like I kind of want it to be real but if its not, but the fangirl inside of me is kind of jumping up and down. I don’t want to date myself to much, but when Click Click Boom came out, Saliva really hit the scene. They changed a lot of things, they were so big for so long and they wrote so many great songs. It was really cool just to have that and then we really started having conversation and stuff it was genuine and he is interested in working with us and we obviously had interest in working with him. Its been great so far we are really looking forward to the new things that he is going to be help us out with
Silent Theory will be out on the road sometime this year bringing great music to the masses. They are working on a new album so keep an ear out and eye out for this band. Rock On!