A Silent Film are a young act from Oxford who are set to release their debut album, 'The City That Sleeps', on Xtra Mile Recordings in September.
The group, which consists of Robert Stevenson (vocals/piano) ; Lewis Jones (guitars) ; Ali Hussain(bass) and Spencer Walker (drums), first came to prominence when they put out their debut record, 'The Projectionist EP', last summer.
As a prelude to 'The City That Sleeps' which has been produced by Sam Williams (Supergrass, the Noisettes, Dogs Die in Hot Cars), A Silent Film have just released as a download only single, 'Sleeping Pills', which originally appeared as one of the tracks on 'The Projectionist' and has been reworked for the album. Promising much for the full-length, it merges melodic pumps of jangling guitars and sudden bursts of piano with fiery drumming and acrobatic, anthemic vocals from Robert Stevenson.
Pennyblackmusic spoke to him in a brief break in A Silent Film's active live schedule about the single and 'The City That Sleeps'.
PB : You’ve up until now self-produced most of your own material including ‘The Projectionist’ from last year. ‘The City That Sleeps’ was, however, produced by Sam Williams. Why did you decide to work with a producer after years of doing it yourself ? What do you think he brought to the recording ?
RS : Sam brought focus to our entire approach ; we made the decision after recording ‘The Projectionist’ that we were not going to record our debut album without a producer. If you’ve been working on songs for a long time you can lose the bigger picture. Sam was able to draw our attention away from the notes and hear the melodies, that sort of thing.
PB : You went off to France for two months with your own mobile studio in 2006 and came back with eighteen songs. How many of those songs have found their way onto ‘The City That Sleeps’ album ?
RS : Just five have made the cut. Although anyone who heard those demos would have a tough time recognizing them now.
PB : Why did you decide to call the album ‘The City That Sleeps’?
RS : There’s an introspective feel to many of the lyrics on the album so we wanted a title to reflect that sense of isolation in a busy environment.
PB : When will the album be released ?
RS : September. Bang on.
PB : Sleeping Pills’ appeared on ‘The Projectionist’. Why did you decide to reprise it for the first single off ‘The City That Sleeps’ rather than go for a completely new track ?
RS : We tried to not let the EP influence how we felt about the album.'Sleeping Pills' is a unique sounding song and the original version had not taken it far enough. It’s an interesting mix of up beat instrumentation with delicate vocals and a perfect song to introduce people to the band.
PB : All your songs tell a story. What is ‘Sleeping Pills’ about ?
RS : It’s a story of a spy running from his government who’ve turned against him. He’s on the run in Eastern Europe and he thinks everyone is out to get him. I was inspired to write it after the death of Alexander Litvinenko, that and to please the other guys in the band because they have a bit of a thing for Jack Bauer.
PB : Like many good bands who make music involving a piano and guitars you have drawn inevitable comparisons with Coldplay and the Editors ? Is that something you find flattering or irritating ?
RS : I happen to like both bands so it’s all good; we don’t let these things ruffle our feathers.
PB : You feature in the forthcoming film adaptation of Philip Pullman’s ‘The Butterfly Tattoo’ playing ‘Six Feet of Rope and Revenge’ from ‘The Projectionist’. How did you enjoy that experience and how much of the filming were you involved in ? When will that film come out ?
RS : The filming was very exciting. We were allowed to perform on our own terms, completely live and use our own stage set. We got on really well with the director and finished all the shooting in one evening. It was particularly nice to have a full house dancing to our tunes, even if they were just acting! The film should be out in the summer.
PB : You’ve played a lot of fairly intimate and as a result very visual shows involving projections and videos until now, but are beginning to attract decent support slots. You played Glastonbury last year on the BBC Introductory Stage and have got more festival dates lined up for this summer. How do you plan to transfer such visuals to the bigger stage ?
RS : The projectors and videos were part of ‘The Projectionist’ EP. It’s very hard to do use that kind of visual element as a support act so we’ve put it on hold. We also want to achieve notoriety on the strength of our music first and foremost.
PB : Thank you.