This was the first time in a long time that the two of us were able to make the record we wanted to make without any compromise.
A Silent Film, the product of British singer-songwriters Robert Stevenson and Spencer Walker, made its U.S. debut in 2010 with an American release of their 2008 U.K. debut The City That Sleeps. Sand & Snow followed in 2012, with the fabulous single “Harbour Lights” as its calling card. After three years of touring and writing, the band is back with its third release, this one self-titled, and an extensive U.S. tour, to boot. In between daytime driving shifts and nights on stage, the two band mates took some time to answer a few questions.
The new album sounds like a band that’s staking a more distinctive claim on its sound. How was your songwriting approach for this one different from that of The City That Sleeps or Sand & Snow?
The songs for this album were largely written back in the U.K. after a pretty concentrated period of U.S. touring and a long album cycle. With some lineup changes happening at the same time, probably the most different thing about writing this album was that we decided to take our time, not rush it, and write it back in Oxford where we grew up. A lot of Sand & Snow was written and recorded in the States at the beginning of what was an amazing U.S. adventure for us; A Silent Film is more of a homecoming.
What was behind the decision to drop from four band members to two? How has this changed your production and performing?
The two of us have been playing together since we were 14 years old, and in that time we have played with a lot of musicians. While the band is “officially” now just the two of us, we will continue to play with great and inspiring musicians, and we’ll do what we have always tried to do, which is strive to put on a memorable live show that connects with every single person in the room. Production for this album was different, though. This was the first time in a long time that the two of us were able to make the record we wanted to make without any compromise, so in that respect, it was a liberating experience.
Are you aware that your Wikipedia page quotes an album reviewer who claims your music “distinctly echoes” Coldplay, Snow Patrol, and the Killers? Were I asked to associate your sound with other bands, none of those are ones I would choose. What do you think about the comparison?
We don’t make a habit of reading things about us, so, no, we weren’t aware of that on our Wikipedia page! However if you’re asking what we think about a reviewer feeling comfortable with comparing us to some great, acclaimed bands…we feel pretty good about it.
How did the May 2015 U.S. small-venues tour go? How will the fall 2015 one compare?
The Secret Rooms tour was our way of doing something special and unique for our fans: 12 sold-out shows across the U.S. in unusual venues like bookstores, bicycle shops, and art galleries. We played stripped-down sets in the round; there was a lot of audience interaction. The whole process was creatively very inspiring, hopefully for the audience as much as it was for us. The fall tour that we are on right now is very different. We’re back in clubs, and the shows are a lot louder, for one thing. We’re playing some great venues, we have a great band with us—come down and check it out!
Every time I play your music with my husband in the car, he thinks of Midge Ure and Ultravox. Any connection there? Was that band any sort of inspiration for you? What about other ’80s artists?
We both grew up listening to a lot of ’80s music, and we’ve been told pretty much since we started making music that there were resonances from that era in what we do. We’ve both always been drawn to writing expansive, melodic music that wears its heart on its sleeve—which was certainly true of some of the best music from the ’80s. Probably the most direct influences for us from then, though, were artists like The Cure, Queen, David Bowie, and Peter Gabriel. | Laura Hamlett
2015 U.S. Tour Dates
10.21 | Urban Lounge, Salt Lake City
10.23 | Bluebird Theater, Denver
10.25 | First Avenue, Minneapolis
10.26 | Lincoln Hall, Chicago
10.27 | The Shelter, Detroit
10.29 | Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland
10.30 | The Rathskeller, Indianapolis
11.01 | Bowery Ballroom, New York
11.02 | Union Transfer, Philadelphia
11.04 | The Sinclair, Cambridge MA
11.05 | Mohegan Sun Resort, Uncasville CT
11.06 | Rough Trade, Brooklyn
11.07 | Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington DC
11.09 | The Neighborhood Theatre, Charlotte NC
11.10 | The Masquerade – Purgatory, Atlanta
11.11 | 3rd & Lindsley, Nashville
11.13 | High Dive, Gainesville FL
11.14 | The Social, Orlando
11.16 | Crowbar, Tampa
11.18 | House of Blues, New Orleans
11.19 | Club Dada, Dallas
11.20 | Stubbs, Austin
11.21 | Fitzgerald’s Downstairs, Houston
11.24 | Valley Bar, Phoenix