The Silent Comedy
Proverbs 27:6 – “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses”
There was something about that passage. It stuck out to Jeremiah and Josh Zimmerman. They knew it because their father was a preacher and, as Jeremiah says, they had “all these old Biblical passages floating around in their head.” But as the two brothers who together form rock outfit the Silent Comedy began reflecting on their decade-long music-industry journey, one that suddenly found their former close-friends in their hometown of San Diego turning against them for their perceived success, the long-known proverb suddenly began to feel all too relevant.
“We started to realize that people kind of turn on you when you’re not their local secret anymore,” says Jeremiah of the interpersonal battles that wound up serving as inspiration for the title of the band’s new album, Enemies Multiply. It was an odd feeling for the two, humble young men. Rather than let it dampen their spirits, however, the instrumentalist Jeremiah and his songwriting savant younger brother Josh channeled this admittedly confusing time of conflict — as well as the previous perilous years leading up to it, characterized by what Josh describes as “being jerked around by the music industry” — into their most impassioned, hard-hitting, and thoroughly engaging album of their career.
Enemies Multiply, which the band recorded over the course of a year in Austin, Texas, is by and large a big-boned, bruising affair. “Sharks Smell Blood,” all bluesy strut, spooky choirboy harmonies and sing-along hook, stands at the center, a rocker that Josh explains is similar to the band in the way it developed over several years to its current cohesive state. Likewise, “Avalanche,” framed around a searing guitar line and squelching church organ, evolved over time going “through this journey where it’s completely evolved. We loved it in every incarnation it went through, but when I listen to how it ended up I really feel that’s the pinnacle of all of that work,” Josh explains. Even “All Saints Forgiven,” which begins as a back porch delta-blues confessional, quickly explodes into a glam-metal Van Halen-esque sing-along at the chorus.
“All of what we have been through as a band is wrapped up in this new project,” Josh says of the Silent Comedy’s realization that conflicts and challenges often reveal themselves as the best source material for artistic expression. “We started to feel the narrative happening,” Jeremiah adds of the two years spent writing the material that became Enemies Multiply. “It started to come from a very real place. It was exhausting and it was really taking a toll on us. We were in a legitimate struggle. But all the songs started to take on a new meaning. This entire process was saturated with so much frustration and conflict. So to see something like Enemies Multiply rise out of that is awesome.”
Distance, time and learning how one best responds to the changing tide stands at the core of the Silent Comedy’s third full-length album. For the Zimmerman’s, music has always been a means by which to cope with challenging circumstances. As children, after traveling the globe with their missionary parents only to return to the United States, meander some more, then settle down in San Diego in a house with literally nothing but an upright piano, the two brothers looked to musical collaboration in their mid-teens as a stem to their bewilderment. “Jeremiah started writing songs, “Josh recalls. “That was kind of his way of processing everything that we’d been through. That’s really when we started writing together.”
While not always visible in plain sight, rock music has always formed the foundation of the Silent Comedy. The brothers, who were fanboys for bands like Rage Against The Machine and At The Drive-In during their teenage years, first delved into band life via joint membership in a punk and post-hardcore act. But after forming the Silent Comedy in the mid-2000’s, their early albums, including 2010’s Common Faults, which sold over 10,000 copied independently, and last year’s Friends Divide EP, began to incorporate the folk, Americana and the blues they picked up from listening to a healthy dose of Cat Stevens and Simon and Garfunkel. Songs from both releases have been used in numerous film and TV placements including commercials for Volkswagen, Xbox, Strike Back (Cinemax), the Dark Souls Video Game, the History Channel’s the Men Who Built America and Hatfields & McCoy’s series’ and more. Still, all throughout, their live show was centered on its rollicking, over-the-top energy. To that end, the Zimmerman brothers felt their studio efforts needed to better match up with their live persona.
“In a way it was only a matter of time before we fully embraced our rock n’ roll roots,” Josh says. Adds Jeremiah: “The farther we kept going, we realized the stuff that was more interesting to us was the more energetic and rock-focused type stuff. Our energy has been our biggest asset. We wanted to put that on the record.”
If the journey has felt long and at times painful, the Zimmerman brothers feel that with Enemies Multiply, and its accompanying massive live show they’re set to take on the road, the ends truly do justify the means. “All of our recording has been a struggle to get this energetic feeling,” Josh says. “I finally feel we’ve captured it.”