The Silent Comedy’s Josh Zimmerman talks about their latest album, Enemies Multiply.
Americana folk-rock group the Silent Comedy couldn’t bring themselves to release their latest album, Enemies Multiply — until now. Written and recorded several years ago by Josh Zimmerman and his brother and longtime bandmate, Jeremiah, Enemies Multiply, felt too personal to share.
Born of professional and personal difficulties, the album was recorded in Austin, Texas. While both brothers considered it their best work, releasing it would have meant the possibility of reopening wounds. So they agreed to shelve it.
Fast-forward a couple years. The current climate and the apropos messages of the music convinced the two that the time was right to release the album. It comes out October 19.
Recently, we talked with Josh Zimmerman about the new record, songwriting, and barely escaping a tornado in Texas.
Cowboys & Indians: You’re about to release Enemies Multiply on October 19. What do you hope your fans will take away from the new album?
Josh Zimmerman: We hope the fans enjoy where our sound has evolved to over the years. We put a lot of ourselves into these songs, so we ultimately hope that they mean as much to our fans as they do to us.
C&I: What inspired the album?
Zimmerman: There were several years, and tons of touring, that passed between our previous album and this one. We had a lot of pent-up emotion from everything experienced in that time, and we channeled that into the songs. This album represents our most personal, honest writing to date. We had a lot to say, and a new album was the perfect way to say it.
C&I: Any fun stories during the overall creative process?
Zimmerman: Not fun, per se, but we did have a close call with a tornado in Texas! We recorded the majority of this album around Austin, and we were out on a ranch tracking vocals when a tornado touched down less than a mile from us. We had to take shelter, and the property got pretty trashed with high winds. Fortunately, everyone was safe, and it was quite the bonding experience to be hunkered down with our production team with the power knocked out and debris flying around outside.
C&I: This album came from professional and personal struggles you all faced years ago. You then made the decision to delay putting it out. Why release it now?
Zimmerman: This album is a collection of songs for hard times, and a lot of the people surrounding us are going through some pretty dark days. This album makes us feel better in spite of our circumstances, and we hope that it serves that same purpose for others. Some of the tracks are cathartic anthems, and others are the perfect thing to hear if you feel like you’re at the end of your rope. There is a little something to suit whatever situation you find yourself in.
C&I: Was it hard for you to open up to your audience and be vulnerable with these songs?
Zimmerman: It wasn’t that difficult at first, because the songs just flowed out of us. That’s the benefit of writing as a therapeutic process. After they were down on paper, however, it took some effort to not self-censor. My brother, Jeremiah, and I had to talk each other into putting some of the most personal material on the album.
C&I: Is there a specific song that really resonated with you? Is so, what’s the story behind it?
Zimmerman: The closing track, “Peace of Mind,” probably resonates with us the most. Jeremiah and I were in a rough place and started singing together at the piano. We kept trading off verses and coming back to a chorus that was centered around camaraderie and brotherhood. I still sing, or listen to, that song when I am going through difficult times, and it is always a powerful experience. It is a perfect way to close out this album because it leaves you with a feeling of hopefulness in the face of adversity.
C&I: What do you think helps a song or a story resonate with people?
Zimmerman: Our audience has always responded to our songs that carry a lot of emotional weight. The song “Gasoline” has long been a fan favorite for this reason. We aren’t really a “catchy chorus” kind of band. People seek out our music for something that packs an emotional punch and sticks with you over time. This album has a lot more songs that fit that description than our previous releases.
C&I: Are there any songs that didn’t make it on the album that we can expect some time down the road?
Zimmerman: We recorded 24 songs over the course of several sessions in Austin with producer Chris “Frenchie” Smith. The Friends Divide EP and Enemies Multiply LP both came from these sessions, but there are certainly more tracks that didn’t make it on either of those. Frenchie encouraged us to pursue a lot of different stylistic directions, so there were some songs that didn’t quite fit with the flow of the album but are really cool on their own. We are hoping to put them out in some form in the future, so fans can hear some of the outtakes.
C&I: What’s your writing process like?
Zimmerman: My brother and I differ in this respect. He generally starts with music, and I almost always start with lyrics. He is much more musically talented than I am, and more prolific as well. I often have both lyrics and melody worked out, sing them to him, and he builds out the chord structure underneath. That being said, we were more collaborative on this album than we have ever been in the past. I got involved on the lyrics for some songs that he brought to the table, and we wrote some together in real time, which is very rare for us.
C&I: How do you think you’ve evolved as an artist since the release of your debut album, Sunset Stables?
Zimmerman: Oh, goodness! We have changed so much since Sunset Stables, it’s almost impossible to quantify. This project started very organically and was always intended to be somewhat fluid. It was kind of a place for Jeremiah and me to experiment outside of the genre of our other band at the time. Since Sunset Stables, we have become much more rock ’n’ roll. Both the recordings and performance were more rooted in folk music at the beginning. Over years of touring, the shows became wilder, the sound became much louder, and the result is that we are essentially now a rock band with some folk influence and instruments.
C&I: What can we expect in terms of touring?
Zimmerman: We are playing two release shows in Southern California: on October 18 in LA and 19 in San Diego. We also have several shows lining up already in 2019. Aside from that, we aren’t sure how much touring we will do to promote this album. We have all become very busy with other things since our last full North American tour. We would love to team up with some of our favorite tour mates, like the Heavy, and go back on the road together, but that will be dependent on what opportunities are available. We will be closely watching how fans react to the new album, so the best way for people to see us in their town would be to spread the word about the album if they enjoy it!
C&I: What’s something that fans might not know about you?
Zimmerman: We see our fan base as a community that we are a part of, so we are very open with our fans. For people that have followed us closely, there probably isn’t much they don’t know about us. For others, who have only seen our wild stage performance, or heard about our lyrics being dark, they are often surprised that we are very nerdy, friendly, guys. We vent a lot of our frustrations with the world on stage, so by the time the show is done, we are usually happy and ready to spend time with friends and fans.
For more information on the Silent Comedy, visit their website. Photography courtesy-Sideways-Media.