The emerging Grand Rapids band is finishing up its debut album at Goon Lagoon studios and plays SpeakEZ Lounge tonight. Read the story, listen to the radio podcast, watch the video.
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From the “pretty good schooling in classic rock” that he received while growing up in Philadelphia to the Gram Parsons-driven country music phase he embraced while attending graduate school in Kansas, guitarist John Bruni seeks to weave it all into the musical fabric of Silverstiles.
“Really, I try to take the best out of all of it,” insists the Grand Rapids indie-rock band’s chief songwriter. “I guess the stories come from country, the riffs comes from rock and I think our attitude comes from some of the indie-rock that I grew up on … in the ’90s.”
Together for only a year, with an album currently being recorded at Grand Rapids’ Goon Lagoon studios, Silverstiles is poised to makes its mark on West Michigan’s music scene in 2016.
Led by Bruni, with Sean Francis on drums, Sunny Dickson on lead vocals, Keith Jaissle on bass and Jared Dickson on rhythm guitar, Silverstiles creates “something new to the ears” – grounded in Bruni’s songwriting and band members’ rich and diverse musical background.
“I think it comes out of just wanting to do something that’s kind of melodic and kind of reminds you in a way of the ’70s, songwriters like Warren Zevon and some of the interesting things that were going on especially in California, The Byrds and Gram Parsons,” suggests Bruni, who teaches communications at Grand Valley State University, where his wife is also a professor.
“I try to tell stories in my songs and I think the characters, you could recognize them today. They are people who are dealing with financial issues or, in general, life taking a bad turn unexpectedly. Tragedy always makes for good music.”
Bruni and Sunny Dickson brought one of those songs, “Shipwrecked Son,” into the studios for Local Spins Live on News Talk 1340 AM (WJRW), performing an acoustic rendition of the tune that will appear on the band’s upcoming studio album. Listen to the full radio podcast here, with a video below. (Later that day, the band performed for the Local Spins Wednesdays series at SpeakEZ Lounge with singer-songwriter Rio. View the photo gallery below.)
PODCAST: Local Spins Live with Silverstiles
For Dickson, singing in a rock band wasn’t something she ever pictured.
Growing up in a classical and Christian music environment, she took opera voice lessons and played oboe in orchestras. But when Dickson, who’s finishing up her master’s degree in literature at GVSU, casually mentioned to Bruni’s wife that she once sang opera, “she took me seriously and next thing I knew I was in a basement with a bunch of dudes I didn’t know and singing rock songs.”
“Rock music wasn’t necessarily on the plate for me,” she concedes, “so I’m really enjoying it now.”
Silverstiles is filled with an eclectic mix of musical experiences: Francis, a multi-instrumentalist who performs sketch comedy, has played in various jazz and “off rock” bands; Jaissle formerly played with The Campanellis, Semblance of Normalcy and other groups; Jared Dickson played trombone in the ska band Selectively Antisocial.
Together, Dickson says, their music says resonates with a Zevon-like sadness mixed with dark humor.
“That sort of Warren Zevon feeling,” Bruni concedes, “really got into me.”
Get more information about the band at facebook.com/silverstiles.
VIDEO: Silverstiles, “Shipwrecked Son”
PHOTO GALLERY: Silverstiles, Rio at SpeakEZ Lounge (Jan. 20, 2016)