In case you missed it on our socials, the past few weeks have dealt a couple of major hammer blows as we faced up to the departures of both Enzo and Ross.
With Enzo having left the UK and Ross unable to continue in the band, it quickly became clear once we started planning post-lockdown rehearsals that The Silver Bayonets would need to undergo huge changes to survive.
Enzo had joined the band just a few days after his arrival in the UK from Sicily, and kept the band in existence for almost a year prior to Ross joining. The Silver Bayonets simply would have ceased existence without him!
Ross took over all the band admin and bookings soon after joining – a massive undertaking, even for a little band like us. He also introduced us to producer Dave Draper, and recruited Gen when we decided to expand our sound.
Besides being great musicians they are great friends and I am so happy to have shared these past few years in a band with them, and grateful for all they have done to make The Silver Bayonets the band it is. Enzo and Ross will both be featuring in upcoming videos for the remaining songs from Unfolding, so we have that to look forward to!
So Gen and I find ourselves at a crossroads: We know finding drummers and bass players are like gold dust, but we need to find the right ones to bring the band back to life. Or we just call it a day and quit. The nuclear option doesn’t really appeal as we’d both like to carry on, so we’re now actively looking for a drummer and bassist to complete a new line-up for The Silver Bayonets. Please let us know if you want to be part of it or know anyone interested!
To say 2020 has been a tough year would be a significant understatement. Here in the UK we’ve been suffering the impact of the global Covid pandemic, thinking about the struggles highlighted by the BLM movement and grappling with the uncertain consequences of Brexit, all of which have contributed to the fatiguing onslaught that marred the year. 1 Jan 2020 and 31 Dec 2020 were worlds apart.
For The Silver Bayonets, 2020 began with the decision to expand our lineup: after hearing how much Minki’s vocals added to “New” and “Light” from the new album, Unfolding, we thought we should incorporate that into the band full-time, adding some extra guitar in there too to help fill the sound out even further. Ross put out some adverts on social media and Genevieve Ding replied pretty soon afterwards. We rehearsed a few songs from the Braveface album at Blue Studios in Dalston at the end of January and then headed to the Three Compasses across the road for a few beers and a chat. A few days later, Gen became the newest member of The Silver Bayonets! Writing about going to rehearsals and pubs seems such a fond, distant memory…
A few weeks later we played our only gig of 2020 – at a Camden Rocks all-dayer at Latin Groove – as a three-piece thinking Gen would make her full debut at the next gig. Little did we know!!
During the first few months of the year, Dave Draper mixed the Unfolding album, whose recording was completed in November 2019, and I put together the album and track artwork while Ross set about creating a strategy for releasing single edits of each of the album’s nine songs. This turned out to be pretty much all we could do as on 23 March a UK-wide (partial) lockdown was announced, a decision from which live music has yet to recover.
Whilst Ross and I were able to continue working our day jobs, Enzo found himself furloughed. As time went on and with Brexit a reality, he made the tough decision in the summer to leave the UK. I’m glad to say he has since started working in Barcelona, enjoying a freedom to work and travel now sadly denied to Britons. With the band neither gigging or rehearsing, we are still able to collaborate over the Internet. I hate the phrase but this for now is our “new normal”.
During lockdown I kept busy recording some cover songs and making accompanying videos, and contributed backing vocals for the Hey You Guys! song, “Wolf”. Enzo and I recorded lockdown performance videos for an acoustic version of Awake, the first single from Unfolding, and a cover of Slade’s “Cum on Feel the Noize”. I also set about making videos for the single releases for the Unfolding album, with Gen, Ross and Enzo recording clips that I stitched together using the Lightworks application.
Between 29 May and 4 December, we released five singles from Unfolding (Awake, Falling, Amplified, Change and Caught) with the remainder (New, Oxide, Better and Light) scheduled for 2021. We finally received some BBC airplay courtesy of the BBC Introducing… programme for BBC South. It was such an exciting moment for us. A band like ours will always struggle to get beyond the first rung of having friends and family as our audience but reviews and radio support have been really strong this year and we’d like more of that in 2021!
I’ve been keen to get Gen involved in the recording process as I feel it’s important that we have music that features all four of us. To that end, we recorded a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” during the summer, where Gen contributed backing vocals and acoustic guitar. Ross’ first home recordings of his bass were used on the track. Enzo borrowed an electronic kit to record the drums and improvised a shaker using rice in a glass jar! I mixed the track and everyone recorded themselves to create a Zoom-style video for it. The whole thing came out well and was a lot of fun! Here’s a YT link to it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Nts7tetQWc
Although promoting the single releases has been an imposed sole priority this year, I wanted to have more songs featuring Gen, so in November we recorded a cover of Fix Me Now by Garbage, with Gen singing a lead vocal recorded using her phone! It was a great learning experience figuring out how to create the backing track using the original song as a reference too.
When Gen first joined, the first thing we did was create additional parts to the existing songs. One of the most effective of these was on Inside the Jar. To show how the new parts had improved the song, Gen’s vocals and acoustic guitar parts were recorded along with new versions of my guitar and vocals and mixed with the original bass and drum tracks recorded by Ross and Enzo for the Braveface album. The new version adds an ethereal female backing vocal throughout that works perfectly with the subject matter of the song. The re-recorded version of Inside the Jar and the Fix Me Now cover are available as a download on our website www.thesilverbayonets.co.uk/Inside-The-Jar-2020/ and at Bandcamp and Soundcloud too.
That wraps up 2020 for us… now to get to work fixing as much as possible and create new music in 2021. I really hope that we can see you there in person, possibly even at a gig.
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and we’re really looking forward to a Happy New Year!
As mentioned in previous blogs, we created the Unfolding album as a story of someone who suffers from anxiety and depression, affected by the negative aspects of the outside world, actively changing, consciously taking control of those aspects of their life in order to help themselves live a better life. I suppose it is a common hope for anyone suffering chronic mental health issues who has sought help in order to get their life back on track.
The songs themselves are meant to be self-contained little “chapters” or snapshots at various stages, and were meant to be able to stand up on their own, as opposed to being movements within a continuous piece of music like some prog rock album (…maybe next time!) So with that in mind, here’s a track-by-track overview of the album.
Awake kicks things off with a song about recognising those dark and negative thoughts that cloud your mind and wondering if you can do anything about it, and knowing that even whilst you try to change you can still be on a downward path… sometimes things get worse before they get better. Musically it’s a bit different for us with its funky little guitar and bass lines.
Falling is about the shock of realising the world isn’t the way you’d been led to believe. Experiencing its harsh, toxic and damaging effects feels like the world you knew is falling apart and the sky is falling down. We made a video that featured the police brutality that led to the recent BLM demos, the climate catastrophe, the re-emergence of right-wing extremism, the man-made disasters that have been on the news for decades… it just fit in with the feeling of the song.
Amplified is the third song on Unfolding and talks about how deeply-held beliefs can be deeply-ingrained lies, reinforced over time such that trying and trying again is really just making the same mistakes over and over, keeping us where we are without making any progress. Challenging those core beliefs could unlock a whole new perspective, and if anything’s to improve then we have to be the instigators.
Change is really the central theme of the album. I think the word is mentioned in every song and was the album’s early working title. The track of the same name talks about people wanting to change you for their own ends, rather than helping you to change for your own good. A famous DJ asked us to change every aspect of our band to make us more palatable for him and his crowd. The sheer hypocrisy and blissful lack of awareness would have been funny if it wasn’t so tragic!
Caught is the pivotal mid-story song about facing up to the past and now facing a choice about the future. It deliberately breaks the album’s lyrical pattern so that it stands alone and apart, literally caught in the middle of Unfolding.
New kicks off the second half of the Unfolding album with a resolution to change for the better. Addressing the big stuff is never easy but the person in the song wants to let go and find the positive aspects of themselves. The driving major key tone of the song is meant to reflect that positivity. It’s hopeful as fuck.
Oxide is about how fear and uncertainty try to undermine your efforts to change. Those who can’t accept change often threaten to destroy everything. But you’ll never create a better future by wistfully looking at the past. I’ve always loved that incessant, driving Motown drum riff and thought it would be good to use in this song about ploughing on through the rough times to get to a better future.
Better looks at how far the central character has come on their journey, facing their demons, and breaking down barriers to become more honest and kind… to themselves as much as anyone. It’s a song about self-acceptance. Musically I wanted something a bit different here, so there’s reverse piano in the intro, and piano chords, plus a drum break in the middle. That might not be a big deal for some people but it’s quite a change for us!
Light brings the story full circle, with the main character, now much older, thinking about their journey, sharing advice so that someone else can then go on and live their own life, shine their light on others, more self-aware and aware of others. It’s a positive, hopeful song to end on. For me, the highlight is in the vocals provided by Minki Malkin, lead singer of 50ft Woman. I mentioned in an earlier blog how she came in and recorded the most amazing harmonised parts. It was great to have her sing on the album and was key to us wanting to expand the lineup.
So that’s really an explanation of the story arc from the writer’s point of view, but mainly it’s up to the listener to get what they want out of the songs and the whole album, and all I hope for is that it connects with those who take the time to hear it.
One of the things Ross was keen on doing for this album was to release single edits of each track over a period of time so as to give the algorithms used by streaming services more opportunities to push our music into playlists. The idea here is that the algorithms favour frequent releases rather than a “big dump”, as it were, of an entire album’s worth of material every 18 months or so.
Although Unfolding was created as a concept album with a story arc and a link from one song to the next, the idea of releasing each track was really appealing: it would be like releasing episodes of a serial, revealing the story as it progresses. Whether or not the whole algorithm thing works out, this method also allowed us put together track artwork and videos for each song, something we’d kind of tried with the Braveface album. This time, though, we had more of a reason to get up and complete these things.
If you followed my last blog entry, you’ll know that the first track from Unfolding is called Awake, and on 29 May we released the track on all the main digital platforms as well as put out this video that we made:
This video was made during lockdown by getting Ross, Enzo and Gen to mime to the single edit in their own homes against a neutral background. I’d been practising by creating videos in LightWorks for some covers I’d recorded to keep my hand in during lockdown. It was quite time consuming but fun to do. I wonder how I’ll feel after completing eight more for the rest of the album!
We also had some great news for the single as it was our first track ever to be played on BBC Introducing. It got played twice on that show before being included in a “best of” compilation of introducing… tracks from the nearby BBC regions. We also had a couple of great write-ups in Tuned Loud and Stereo Stickman.
So for the first single release, it’s gone pretty well: we haven’t achieved a large number of streams or downloads, but it still feels like a step forward for the band. I hope that you are also able to get the single and help us on our way!
I don’t know how things are for other songwriters but I need to make time to write, and find that the terrible twins of distraction and procrastination are only too willing to get in the way. So after finishing the Braveface album, I made sure that I quickly got back into the songwriting habit. I like to think that time spent writing is time spent improving, and being productive is better than sitting staring wistfully out the window waiting for the elusive muse of inspiration to strike!
The first of song I came up with around that time was a horrible winding track in 13/8 time that never made it past a rough demo but the second, a more straightforward song called “Caught”, based around a twiddly guitar riff, quickly found itself played at gigs. Both songs were written completely ”in character”, which for me was an interesting change from the myriad indie-rock songs that are desperate little vignettes from the diary of a tortured soul . Come on, be honest: every songwriter’s done it!
At the start of last year (2019) we started work on songs for our third album. We’d already debuted one new track, Caught, at the end of the previous year, and I had high hopes of completing the album by the summer. However, best laid plans and all that…
It proved to be very difficult to switch mentality from “gig-preparation” to “song-learning”, especially with the infrequency of our rehearsals. The toxic amounts of alcohol being consumed did nothing to help matters either. The sessions became fraught, going over tiny sections of songs and meandering about without much progress. As the rehearsal time got eaten up, tempers flared, nerves frayed and the cracks began to show. After a few short weeks the tension boiled over and arguments occurred, which culminated in instruments being smashed, a subsequent walk-out and the band temporarily splitting up!
I’ve neglected this blog for way too long, but equally we haven’t had that much to say. However, I wanted to share some thoughts on the band and what we’re up to, and make an effort to keep the updates flowing.
We released our second album, Braveface, in April 2018 and we played a fantastic album launch gig at Nightclub Kolis, made our Camden Rocks Festival debut that summer, and gigged for the remainder of 2018. We also spliced together some live footage for a video for an edit of the album track “Storms Inside”.
It’s been ages since I wrote an update on what’s going on. For those of you who have followed us on Facebook or Twitter will know that for the past year we’ve been writing and recording our new album, Braveface, which will be released on 13 April 2018.
As songs were brought in and developed for what turned out to be the first album, it became clear that the music had a particular “shape” – and that shape was energetic and frenetic slices of power-pop with one or two songs that deviated away from that style. We didn’t plan it that way, the songs seemed to gel that way.
We were happy with the first album. It’s such a cliché when bands slag off their old material, or even just their most recent album: if it was so shit, then why did you release it? In our case, I’m absolutely unapologetic for anything that we’ve released so far: It may not have been perfect but it’s the best we could do with the available money, time, equipment, ability, experience and knowledge. However, I’d like to think that we’ve improved in one or more of those areas since then!Continue reading
When Ross was putting together video clips for a few of the tracks off the album, he asked me to put a few words down to give a bit of background to the songs. Now, I’m not silly enough to suggest that someone else’s interpretations of the songs are wrong or invalid – and I’ve read some really funny things about some of my songs! – but a breakdown of the album tracks would give you an idea of where I was coming from when I started writing them. So, here we go:Continue reading
The album comes out next week and here is an awesome review by the lovely folks at The Soul of a Clown:
The Silver Bayonets are a London- based indie rock band who, we are delighted to learn, love vocal harmonies. This is especially true when we learnt they describe their sound as “very loud, addictive guitar pop music”. This is the band’s debut album and is due out in May so plenty of time to check them out and get it ordered. The album kicks off in brilliant fashion with the rocking “Schemes”. The beauty of this song is in its simplicity, it’s just a great rock n roll song with a huge melody. It’s a similar story with “High Life” and “Constant”, the second of which has a bit of a wider scope and recalls early, rocking, Stereophonics. Tracks like that and “Fairy Tales For The Cynic” suggest that whilst the band may be destined for big things they have retained that straight out of the garage enthusiasm. They have the sense of being played with a real sense of passion borne from frustration. The band are not just one dimensional, as shown by “Nowhere Left To Go” which is darker and far more ‘alternative’. Whilst “Low” is again a more intense and claustrophobic sounding song. Then “Fly” manages to have a wider more expansive sound, but also with perhaps one eye on a more mainstream sound. The one thing that The Silver Bayonets are really good at is delivering an up tempo and bombastic rock song, as shown by The Clash-esque “Forever” and the classic sound of “The Loudest Voice”. It’s a similar feel on “Your Complex Life” which sees them adopting the gutter punk style of early Manic Street Preachers. The album then ends with “Caving In” which keeps that sound but adds a far more epic feel. This album is a reminder that once upon a time, the UK was brilliant at churning out great, young, rock bands full of spirit and energy and, most importantly, great songs. Sadly, however, they are now few and far between. Although, along with the likes of Colt 45, perhaps The Silver Bayonets could begin creating a new scene. The band they really remind us of are the sadly relatively unknown, Rich Rags. Like that band, they have delivered an album of brilliant rock songs. The tracks are punchy, punky rock numbers played with passion but also a sense of melody which will have you going back for more. There is also that sense that as a live band they will be blinding.