DT: JULY 26, 2023
FM: KELLY WALSH, SRO PR
SILENCE & LIGHT
–ALT ROCK GROUP CONSISTING OF ALL FORMER MILITARY MEMBERS–
SHARE Q&A ON NEW ALBUM
‘COULDA, SHOULDA, WOULDA…’
PORTION OF ALBUM PROCEEDS BEING DONATED TO
NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS SUPPORTING
VETERANS & FIRST RESPONDERS
Photo Credit: Daniel Sell
(l-r: Fred Cowell, Brad Thomas, Tyson Stahl, Jason Everman, Justin Myers)
Raleigh, NC-based alt-rock outfit SILENCE & LIGHT are comprised of veterans representing all four branches of the military: rhythm guitarist Jason Everman (ex-Nirvana, Soundgarden) is a former Army Ranger and Special Forces solider, lead guitarist Brad Thomas is a former Delta Force Operator, bassist Tyson Stahl is a former Marine Raider, vocalist Fred Cowell is an Air Force Chief Master Sergeant and drummer Justin Myers is a Navy veteran. The band released their second full-length album COULDA, SHOULDA, WOULDA… on June 23 which they co-produced with Dick Hodgin (Hootie & The Blowfish, Corrosion of Conformity). Across COULDA, SHOULDA, WOULDA…‘s 11 tracks, SILENCE & LIGHT tap into the nostalgia of the 90’s alternative/grunge uprising with a powerful modern rock punch reflecting the strength and heaviness from their combined time spent serving in the military. A portion of proceeds from all album sales will be donated to select non-profit organizations of the band’s choosing which are dedicated to aiding veterans and first responders. Previously, SILENCE & LIGHT have donated over $5,000 in royalties as well as from performances at various benefit concerts across the country.
THOMAS and STAHL have shared how SILENCE & LIGHT came together and sharing stories about the “making of” the new album, COULDA, SHOULDA, WOULDA… in the below Q&A. See some behind-the-scenes footage in the music video for their lead single “Slinky” here.
SILENCE & LIGHT Q&A
SILENCE & LIGHT is an all-veteran band and includes former members of all four branches of the military (Army, Air Force, Marines & Navy). How did you all meet and when did you come to realize you were all passionate about music?
STAHL: “I met Brad very early on, in the summer of 2017. I have played guitar or bass in punk and hard rock bands since I was 11 years old, and I kept a room in my house with all of my gear to jam with friends while I was in the service. When I left active duty I worked for a non-profit called the Marine Raider Foundation (who were one of our beneficiaries for ‘Volume One’).I kept seeing Brad’s Instagram account pop up advertising that he was a former special operations veteran who was starting a band with Jason Everman to raise money for organizations like ours. I shot Brad a note telling him that I was a long-time guitar/bass player and that I’d like to learn how I could get the Marine Raider Foundation to be one of his beneficiaries. He responded by asking if I still played bass and if that was something I’d like to do and we’ve been thick as thieves ever since. We didn’t even have a drummer yet, but the energy and musical connection were both very palpable, so I knew that we would find the rest of the parts organically, and we did.”
THOMAS: “I’ve been passionate about music since I was three, writing songs about my childhood world and the things around me. My parents took me to see Barry Manilow in concert and from that point on, I knew I wanted to play music and perform. By the time I was 21, my attempt at a career in the entertainment industry was largely unsuccessful and I joined the army seeking excitement and challenge. That path enabled me to have the depth required to write music that connects with people who’ve experienced the same challenges I’ve faced. I know myself, and had I been successful back in the late 1980s, I wouldn’t have handled the success well.
Where did the name Silence & Light come from and what does it mean?
STAHL: “In the early 2000s, I was turned onto a British poet named Christopher Logue, who had rewritten parts of the Iliad into modern language. The phrase ‘silence and light’ is captured in one of his books titled ‘All Day Permanent Red,’ detailing a battle as observed from a distant location. It really stuck with me, because it very accurately captures how startlingly quiet the incredibly loud noise of battle can be and how vivid it can be. When Brad and I were trying to come up with a name, I sent him a picture from Afghanistan overlooking a compound in the middle of a valley during a beautiful sunrise. What you don’t hear is the warnings of an impending ambush, and that ‘racecar at red’ feeling that was happening in this surreal and beautiful moment half a world away from home.
A portion of the funds from your new album COULDA, SHOULDA, WOULDA… be donated to charitable organizations that support veterans and first responders and since your formation you’ve focused on giving back every step of the way. Can you share some of the charities you’ve supported and how their charitable efforts align with the band’s mission?
THOMAS: “This was the impetus for me in forming the band. After seeing dozens of foundations and 5013C charities stand up for those lost to suicide and combat, I wanted to contribute in a more personal way to the community in which I served without asking people for money. I personally contribute to the recording, mixing, and mastering and to date have donated upwards of $60,000 towards releasing these two albums. That’s my personal contribution and all that I’m hoping for is for people to buy and/or stream the music so that we can contribute our royalties to these amazing organizations. Warriors Heart is special to me. Not only was it founded by a former teammate of mine, but they use art as a form of therapy whether that’s music, poetry, painting, sculpting, etc. That really speaks to me.”
The band co-produced COULDA, SHOULDA, WOULDA… with veteran music biz producer, manager and engineer Dick Hodgin who’s worked with artists including Hootie and the Blowfish, Lynryd Skynryd, Corrosion Of Conformity, Lindsey Stirling and Ben Folds. What led you to working with him? Throughout the recording, what was some of the best instruction or advice that you received from him?
STAHL: “We found Dick’s studio because I kept driving past it on my way to work! I decided to give him a call and Dick provided me with a great overview of what a production would be like with him. Specifically, Dick had analog equipment and the ability to record to tape if we wanted. Now that we call Raleigh ‘home,’ we decided to go with it and we are very glad that we did. We learned a lot from our first album’s production, which was under the tutelage and leadership of Grammy-winner and former U.S. Marine, Josh Gudwin (Justin Bieber, Dua Lipa, Bad Bunny), and was recorded at Stagg Street Studio in Van Nuys, CA. Ultimately, we decided that recording closer to home would give us a better chance to stretch our budget out and spend some more time in the studio trying new things. Dick’s knowledge and experience really helped us to formulate a clear vision for how we wanted each song to sound and really helped us capture what we believe is ‘our sound’ and the way it translates live.”
THOMAS: We loved our experience working with A-list producer Josh Gudwin (Du Lipa/Justin Beiber/Bad Bunny/etc) on our first album but we recognized that the best way for us to get the sounds and textures that we wanted was to produce the album ourselves with the help of someone experienced such as Dick Hodgin. In conjunction, Johannes Raassina did the mixing and a bit of production, and he’s been with us since our first album. One of the unique things Dick offered was running our ProTools sessions to tape for that added warmth and analog vibe. Johannes was a real pro working digital and analog mixes and mastering for us through that process. Most of our music wasn’t on the grid so I feel it’s far more lively than the first album and I’m super proud of the team effort.”
Walk us through the writing process of COULDA, SHOULDA, WOULDA…, what are some of the main themes that come up throughout the album? What impact has your combined time in the military led to those themes and your overall sound?
STAHL: “This album has been a long time coming. When we completed ‘Volume One,’ we immediately started working on new material and had about nine songs complete when we unanimously decided to scrap them…they just didn’t feel right. Right around that time, COVID hit and we were in this limbo of not being able to get out and support our recent release (‘Volume One’ came out in the fall of 2019). One day, Brad said he had some new material and I’m pretty sure the first new song we worked on was ‘Slinky,’ followed by ‘Purple’ and what is now called ‘Looks Like Rain.’ We immediately fell in love with these songs because they gave each member of the band room to play his own way, so I enjoyed getting to be a bit more loose on the bass.”
“The challenge of space in a song usually results in either a really great arrangement or clutter. One of our strengths, due to our background, is that we are very direct. Practice is a workday, and we can hammer through several new songs in just a few hours. We are very forward and open, with no subversion or passive aggression. We’ve been complimented on our work ethic and demeanor in the studio and on the road, and I like to think that it’s because we are all very committed and focused to the task at hand, which is exactly how we had to be in our jobs in the military.”
The band’s sound taps into the nostalgia of the 90’s alternative / grunge scene. How does rhythm guitarist Jason Everman’s history being a member of Nirvana and Soundgarden play into that? What techniques do you use on the new album to combine that with a more modernized rock sound?
STAHL: “Jason’s contributions are always the things that allow the song to find its final identity. A great example is the song ‘Driven.’ We worked on that song for a few weeks while Jason was unavailable, and when he came in, he wrote all of the underlying guitar parts that give the song a bit of a darker edge. I have always felt that before Jason’s input on ‘Driven’ it felt like it was inspired by Rush. When Jason was done with it, it felt like some of the heavier Thin Lizzy tracks, like ‘Massacre.’ I think Jason’s experience has given us a member who provides that unique perspective that helps turn something from good to great.”
THOMAS: “Jason is a long-time friend and I love that he’s contributing. His additions are subtle but impactful to our sound. What impresses me most about what Jason has contributed is that generally, he doesn’t know the songs until he’s in the studio with us and what he adds is flavored by what he’s feeling in that moment. Everything that he’s added so far has been something that I (as a guitar player) would have never thought of. That’s when our band is at its best when we write spontaneously based on ideas, riffs, and concepts that I introduce.”
If you could perform a show with any other artist, living or dead, who would it be and why? What would you tell them if you were to hang out with each other backstage?
STAHL: “For me, I’d say Jimi Hendrix and Black Sabbath (‘Into the Void’ era). I don’t know what I would ask them, but I would love to be a fly on the wall and just pay attention to everything that they did to make their music so powerful.”
THOMAS: “This moment has come somewhat full circle for me. Through my good friend Jack Osbourne, I’ve been able to hang out with Ozzy (and Sharon). They’re incredibly gracious people. I was able to tell Ozzy firsthand how his music impacted me, specifically during deployments. Black Sabbath’s music was very much in my heart during everything that I did overseas. Jason and I had the opportunity to give Ozzy some patches that had been worn overseas during combat operations. He was blown away and gave one to each of the members of Black Sabbath. A few songs into the show Jason leaned over and pointed out that Geezer Butler was wearing one of the patches on his shirt, dead center of his chest. That was an epic life moment.”
COULDA, SHOULDA, WOULDA… Track Listing:
4. Looks Like Rain
5. Space Needles
6. Coming Home
10. Straight Lines
11. Letters About Nothing
Stream/download COULDA, SHOULDA, WOULDA… via Spotify HERE.
Find out more about SILENCE & LIGHT online at:
For press inquiries, please contact:
Kelly Walsh – email@example.com