Dublin five-piece Silverbacks have emerged as a noise rock act with plenty of barbed lines and louche riffs in their arsenal.
The scuzzy sounds of lofi indie rock, art rock and grunge feel timestamped to the early 90s – prompted by an adverse reaction to the mass-produced pop dominating markets in the Eighties that went heavy on synthesizers.
New movements of noise rock tend to come and go, but Silverbacks may become part of one that will stick and dislodge the ever filtered and watered down sounds of major label acts.
The band have been earnestly plugging away since 2015, back when they solely comprised of brothers Daniel and Kilian O’Kelly. After a well-received self-released record, Hot Bath, and the song ‘Fad 1995’ in particular getting a stellar response, the band added Emma Hanlon, Gary Wickham and Peader Kearney to the fold, with their popularity ever rising.
We chatted with Daniel and Kilian to get an insight into Silverbacks, what makes them tick, and what they make of success thus far.
Hello Silverbacks! – We’re loving the new single ‘Just In The Band’. What’s the story behind the song?
Thank you kindly, glad you like it. We had been sitting on the original demo version for about six months before the lyrics came. The words were inspired by ‘Danny Says’, a documentary about Danny Fields, The Stooge’s former manager and NYC taste-maker.
It quickly became one of our favourite songs to play as a band and we thought it was a good representation of the kind of sound to expect in our live set so we decided to record and release it as a single.
You hail from Dublin and have been associated with the growing post-punk scene there, including bands like Fontaines D.C. – do you feel that’s a good representation of your sound?
Post-punk is an accurate enough representation of our latest singles and it’s the type of songs we enjoy playing the most for now. We also have quite a wide variety of music and demos that we’re sitting on that take from very different styles and feature many different instruments. We’ll always have guitars though.
What sets you apart as a band in today’s era?
I wouldn’t go as far as saying that we should be set apart, we like the company. We do have a few feathers in our cap though. We’re keeping most of them secret for now but they’ll be revealed in our debut album. I’ll give you one exclusive, three of us are fluent in French so a post-punk concept album in French isn’t out of the question. I also believe that we’d make a really good 5 aside football team and would give most other Irish and UK bands a run for their money.
A lot of critics compare your sound to The Fall. Were they and Mark E. Smith an influence of yours? Which other bands do you take inspiration from?
We’re big fans! One of my very early music projects was called ‘Midnight In Aspen’ after The Fall song. Saying that, we do take some inspiration from The Fall but there’s other bands we draw more from.
Our sound has also been compared to the 70s NYC rock scene too. Television are one of our favourite bands. The interlocking guitar parts on Marquee Moon are fantastic and it’s something we try to emulate with Silverbacks… but with an added third guitar part on top and a few more pedals.
Why do you think this scene is growing from Ireland in particular? What about your hometown influences your lyrics and sound?
To be honest I’m not so sure. There can be a long list of reasons for the coming and going of a scene. Sometimes it’s just pure coincidence and there’s no reason at all. And other times, there isn’t a scene at all but saying there is one helps fill a simplified narrative that is easier to sell. Or maybe I’m not self-aware enough to know why it’s there, if it is there. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.
As far as our hometowns, myself and Kilian were born and grew up in Brussels to Irish parents. Our lyrics and sound are often a papier-mâché of ideas and styles, this could be a result of our confused identities.
What’s the process to a Silverbacks recording? Any producers or engineers that you like to work with?
Myself and Kilian record our own demos and we fire on the best ones to the rest of the band in a Whatsapp group we have called ‘No Chat Only Demos’. As a group we then pick the songs that we want to add to our live set and eventually record in the studio. The songs often take a new life of their own once we learn the them as a band. For example both ‘Dunkirk’ and ‘Just In The Band’ are very different to the original demos which were a good bit slower and more restrained.
We worked with Daniel Fox (Girl Band) on the last two singles. He’s got some set of ears on him and really helped us capture the sound we were hoping to achieve.
Which new bands do you believe we should be listening to?
Myself and Kilian have been listening to Sorry a lot recently. You should also check-out the debut Badhands ablum.
You have shows coming up in Ireland. Do you have any plans to take the live set up overseas?
We actually played our first London show a few weeks back but yes, the plan for next year is to play more shows overseas. Both Kilian and myself grew up in Brussels so a show there would be very nice.
Finally – what do Silverbacks want to achieve in 2019?
The main aim is to release an album we’re all happy with and to play as many shows as possible, including UK and European dates.