There are bands that break up and the fans just go want a reunion to see what could have been. It's a bad deal when the band released a killer debut disc that stayed in your regular rotation for years. It turns into a good deal, when years later, when you least expect it, the band announces two killer shows. It gets better when those shows are local. Better yet is the option to speak with a member of the band to preview the pair of show. Well, it went straight to legendary when was given the opportunity to speak to a second member of Silvertide. Lead singer Walt Lafty shared his thoughts on the past, present, future, and The Machine Shop!!! Check this out...
ToddStar: You there, Walt?
ToddStar: Awesome. Well let me say, thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule for us today, we really appreciate it.
Walt: Oh no problem, thanks you Todd.
ToddStar: Talked to Nick a little bit earlier, and I’ll tell you the same thing I said to him, it’s been nine years in the making, the fans have been clamoring for it, and it’s about fucking time. Silvertide is back.
Walt: [Laughs] This is true, this is true.
ToddStar: Why now? Why after nine years, Walt? Why put this thing back together and back on the road?
Walt: Well basically what ended up happening, I don’t know if Nick filled you in, but we toured back in the day very heavily, and to give an example we toured heavily with Shinedown at the time. They went home to make a record, we stayed on the road. They made their record, they came out with the new record, we were still on the road from the last one. Then they went back home and made another record, and we were still on the road. We did it for a very long time, in an old school method where you just tour, tour, tour, tour. It was like over three years, which is unheard of for a new band that’s not sold like eight million copies of something. And we had not sold eight million copies. So we were, you know, we were touring in a van for two of those years, fifteen passenger van and then we went up to a bus finally. We did all those great tours with Van Halen and, you know, all the different shows with Aerosmith and stuff. Essentially what it led to was in the end, you know, guys fist fighting, guys going into rehab, guys getting locked up, and all that stuff was just causing a lot of animosity towards one another, and we were in the middle of a big power struggle with our record label at the time, and then we got involved in two separate lawsuits. You separate all that stuff and nobody really wanted to even see one another, let alone sit in a room and write a song together. It was just literally impossible for that situation to happen. I mean at one point I think two of the guys in the band got in a fist fight and like the cops got involved, and it was just nuts.
Walt: So when all that stuff went down, it needed time to breathe, it needed time to just kind of sit. Not intentional, we kind of looked at it as like, well we’re not on a label anymore, a couple of the guys weren't even talking with one another, I guess that’s… it is what it is. So we never really came out and said ‘Oh we broke up’ because we never really broke up. After the label thing we just kind of stopped, and then fast forward a couple of years, different guys were talking to each other and it became like whisper down the lane type of thing, and I don’t know, we all just realized that we didn't all necessarily hate one another. It was kind of like being in a war. No matter what we did in our home lives, we realized that we had all been through so much together, and being that we had gone through those things togetherwe always had that in common, so you’re always going to have personality clashes, all these different things, but it’s like being in a relationship, like a married couple for years. You kind of have to get past those things to look at what’s important, and what’s important is when this band gets together we make pretty decent music, and people seem to like it. And we put on a hell of a live show. And it is the different personality clashes that unfortunately contribute to that sound, and contribute to the live show, so they're necessary. And as long as we realize that and we can get past it and not have a fist fight on stage again, then I think we’ll be all right.
ToddStar: Very cool.
Walt: So I guess now it’s just what it came down to was space and timing led to the availability of people that say hey, let’s try this again.
ToddStar: Was SINAI kind of a run in to help this out, you had the side band. I don’t really want to call it a side band, but you had a ban with Nick called SINAI, which was a great disc, was that the kind of proving grounds for this?
Walt: Not really, no. And I knew it wasn't because Nick and I had always kind of remained. We were just back and forth with loving one another and hating one another, and that was just our relationship. I was actually in a band before that with the bass player, Brian, called Automatic Fire, and we’d recorded for a couple of years but nobody really heard of that band, and I don’t know, we just all, it really came down to that over time people just started talking, and that was really about it. I mean, I would get along with Nick and we would play songs together, write songs together. Even when we weren't doing the Silvertide thing, and before SINAI, we were playing together. I would bounce Automatic Fire songs off of Nick. Nick actually came to start SINAI with a different singer, and moved back to Philly and I recommended a rehearsal spot because I was in that rehearsal space with a monthly room where you pay rent, and you had your own space, and I had a room with Automatic Fire there, and Nick was looking for a space, so I said ‘why don’t you just go here?’ and for whatever reason his one point over, SINAI didn't really work out and it was at the tail end of Automatic Fire, kind of like dissipating in a weird way. And that band didn't really break up, we kind of just were like ‘I’m not really into this anymore, this band just isn't working for us’. So, you know, we tried to do different things and sonically we felt we clicked, but it just didn't seem to ever catch on, and shows… we’d play one show with that band and it would be a thousand people, and then the next show would be like five. It made no sense whatsoever. So then Nick asked me at the tail end of that, and my drummer was in Nashville at the time, he’s actually now out with Will Hoag, he’s more of a country singer guy, and that drummer Brian Kilian left and went to Nashville where he was living before Automatic Fire, and Nick came for me and he said ‘Look, I asked you ten times to be in this band with me, and I'm going to ask you again now that this band is not happening, can you do this?’ and I said ‘Yeah’, but it wasn't really like one of those things, it was more over a cup of coffee. It wasn't like some euphoric moment where like we need to do this, you know?
ToddStar: You guys really broke a lot of ground in 2004. You guys dropped an album that… this thing set the world on fire, and you guys play a blend of rock and roll that is almost unheard of from guys, I mean you guys were just kids when this album came out. For you guys to come out with bluesy rock that was that heartfelt and that soulful, how did you guys just put together songs like that, you know? How do you come up with the riffs and the melodies, and the verses that just are well beyond you guys years?
Walt: I think that came down to fighting, to be honest. I'm going to be dead honest with you, I'm a meat and potato guy, I'm a song writer, I'm not a guitar player, I'm not a great guitar player by any stretch. I pack a piano, I pack a guitar, I’m solely about song writing. When we go on stage it’s a totally different thing, I really just get drunk and run around like a lunatic and myreal loose cannon personality tends to come out on stage, but pretty chilled otherwise, and I just like to sit and write songs.Yeah, same with Mark, the rhythm guitar player, he likes to just sit and write songs, and hang out. I don’t know, I would walk in for example, I would walk in with an idea and I’d write all the lyrics and melodies, and I contribute a lot of the core progressions to start with, and then that’s whereNick, my song writing partner, my friend, and partner in crime. He’ll check it out and he’ll go ‘Alright, this sucks’, you know? ‘This is a really bad idea. I like your melody, I like your lyric, I hate the guitar playing and I hate what you’re doing with it. I’m going to take this and I'm going to do something with it.’ And he would take it back and he would mess around with it. Or it would end up in a live jam in a room where we would be arguing back and forth about how something should feel, and that would lead in to something. Over time it just became this thing where it wasa melting pot of different influences, and of course we all agree on the basics. The holy alliance of like The Beatles, and Zeppelin, but you get outside of that realm, and all of a sudden you really start to see our differences, like I listen to a lot of late seventies punk, you know? So you should be familiar with the MC5 thing from up in Michigan.
Walt: So a lot of these bands I love, and all the way down to the more pop ones, like The Ramones and stuff, to bands like 999, who are really not that heard of, but I always love the classic stuff, because of the stories. If you listen to Rock the Casbah, and the lyrics that he comes up with are just… phenomenal. So… I don’t know, I think that we all contribute all these different things, and all these different personalities when it comes to song writing process, and it just naturally, I mean we have the luxury of standing on the shoulders of giants, literally. Especially today with iTunes and the availability of music swapping, and stuff. If I hear a new band, within 24 hours I can have every single thing that band has ever done, and I can listen to every album within five days. So that type of, you know, listening experience, just having a glass of wine, or drinking a couple of beers or whatever, Jack and coke, and just sit down and suck it in like a sponge. So, that stuff just kind of falls through. And I know that everyone right away will throw back in the day, 2004, they were throwing these wonderful examples like you’re like The Stones live, it sounds like The Black Crowes on crystal meth, and one was pretty funny. You know, truth be told I had not even listened to The Black Crowes when we made that first record. I wasn't even up to that point in music history yet. I was still listening to Humble Pie, which most likely influenced The Black Crowes, and it wasn't until years later, like we would hate those comparisons back in the day. We’d go like ‘Yeah, we listen to that stuff’ maybe not The Black Crowes at the time, but we listen to a lot of different older stuff, but we’re not trying to copy them or anything, it’s just that when we all get together that’s just what it sounds like. People forget that it takes a lot longer to break a band than people think. We got signed in 2001/2002. We went up into a retreat for two years and just wrote songs at a party house, and jammed. We moved to LA for a year, and by that point we were already a year in of writing and recording before the album was even conceived of releasing. And at that point bands like Jet started breaking, and even more humorous ones like The Darkness, and all of a sudden it became like this whole, oh we’re retro rock, which is just funny because all the bands in Philly that I knew, like the great band called Pepper’s Ghost, another band called Jealousy Curve, and we’re all friends with these bands, and at the time that was our scene. We would just go down and hang out in this place called South Street, and it was all these bands that kind of sound a little bit like older bands because we really got set up with the music at the time. Literally you would turn on the radio and you’d hear Korn and O Town in the same rotation. There’s an issue to me! And none of that great stuff was happening. Even bands like Kings of Leon, we didn't even have that. They may have existed, but they weren't on our radar at the time, you know? And they are a phenomenal rock band. I know a lot of people kinda go like ‘Oh, I’ve heard enough of that band’, but like I haven’t heard enough of them. They’ll continue to play and I’ll keep buying their CDs. And they were on the same label as us and I’d no idea they existed.
ToddStar: Wow. Well let’s move forward, man. 2013, you did the homecoming show, and now you're doing two huge shows up here in Michigan at The Machine Shop. Why The Machine Shop? What can you tell us about The Machine Shop? What is the love there? (http://www.themachineshop.info/)
Walt: Oh they always treat us great. It was one of those places that you would show up there and t-shirts for the place will get thrown at you five minutes after you walk in the door. Believe me, to touring bands, free shirts that are nice are pretty awesome. And a lot of bands remember that. They would walk in and Kevin or one of them would chuck us a shirt. They’d go ‘Oh, check this out’. It was a free shirt for you. And we’d be coming off with no laundry. Some of us hadn't showered in days, and we’d get this free shirt and it was like those guys, and that atmosphere, and the employees there, made you feel like you were totally welcome. Nothing was off limits. It would be like walking into someone’s house and the first time you’re in there they go ‘Oh there’s a turkey roast in the oven, pick at it if you want, we've got some pumpkin pie, we got some cranberry sauce for you’. It was a big, giant Thanksgiving dinner the minute you walk in, and everything smells like fresh baked cookies. For a rock band, they were and will continue to be, a great home base. So yeah, fast forward a couple of years we’d be on tour in weird parts of the country, and sometimes overseas, and all these other bands would be talking and whatever, and they’d be like ‘Oh The Machine Shop, I love that place’, and on top of it I think that Michigan in general, and Detroit, and Flint, there are real rock fans. It’s just like St. Louis and Philadelphia. It’s like these blue collar, eastern cities. And we even felt that way in Tokyo, believe it or not. It’s the same type of thing. Actually, funnily enough I had my wife years later take a Machine Shop shirt, cut up the whole back, and sew it onto the back of a jean jacket for me, and I went to Japan and I wore that when we sold out The Liquid Lounge, which is like 1,200 people. We sold that out two nights in a row our first time in Tokyo. And we showed up and literally I walked into the audience and the fans ripped the jacket off of my back. I think we have an old film somewhere. It was really funny because I literally brought a piece of The Machine Shop to Japan with me, and never got it back.
ToddStar: Well you've got two opportunities to get another shirt to put on a jacket.
Walt: Yeah, right.
ToddStar: You guys are playing there September 6th and 7th, you’re doing two shows, and you guys are doing something special withthese shows. You care to elaborate on that a little bit?
Walt: The first night we’re going to do the album Show & Tell in its entirety, and the reason for that was a lot of our fans out there haven’t seen us play in years, and they know that record well. So rather than come through and be like ‘Here’s a bunch of new songs that none of you know, that we’re still recording and working on for an album that you haven’t purchased, or stolen, or seen’. We thought it would be kind of a slap in the face. So we figured it would be fun, we’ll do that, and then the next night we’ll play some of the stuff from Show & Tell, we’ll play some new ones, we’ll play some covers, and just really have an all-out fun time. Those nights are really just for anyone who is a fan of rock music in general, and if you've been to our shows you know what it’s like. It’s canned chaos. It’s a nutty experience. I literally will get drunk and I will cut my guitar player’s cable just to see what happens. That’s just a small dose of it. And I usually have like 150 ft cable, and it’s just a big fun experience, and a lot of the fans that have come to shows before come again, they bring their friends and stuff. It’s just a good time. So the second night all the real die-hards can come out and they can hear all the new stuff, and you know, people that maybe came the first night that never saw us before and they love it, and they want to see some more, and they come and check that out. So yeah.
ToddStar: Very cool.
Walt: That’s going to be pretty much it in a nutshell. And obviously each night we’re going to cater the set list a little differently, and some of them will have some jam sessions, it’s not even going to be on the set list, we’ll just get drunk and see what happens and feel it.
ToddStar: Very cool. I know you're a busy man, so I've got a couple more if you don’t mind.
Walt: Take your time.
ToddStar: Who made you want to pick up a mic and sing, Walt?
Walt: My older sister.
Walt: Yeah, my older sister. When I was a kid my older sister was way too shy to sing in public,her name’s Megan, she’s actually a librarian for the city of Philadelphia, and one of the smartest women I know, and every day we would have to walk about two miles to school, because we were right at the end of the school bus zone, so they said we were too close toget picked up by a school bus, so we would have to walk a little over two miles, and we would cut through all these woods and stuff to get up there and down a steady street, and days when it started to snow and stuff, it would take a little bit longer, and to pass the time from the time that I was a little kid, she would make me sing, and then once I’d learned the melodies, she would say ‘Okay, now I'm going to do the melody and you're going to harmonize with me’. And she would have be just make up harmonies, and we would walk and just do that. Simple things like Home on the Range, or Beatles songs, like [sings] and I just did that over and over again until it became such second nature, by the time that I was 11 or 12, that I honestly didn't know any other thing, any other existence, I opened up my mouth and that’s what would happen, I would sing. After that I started really by then I was hitting 15/ 16 years old and that’s obviously when you get introduced to marijuana, we started smoking pot, you start experiencing different things, and then you start to listen, really truly listen to records, because it would be the only thing to do. And the people on the albums became our friends. Robert Plant became my best friend, whether he knew it or not, and one of the ones that really triggered me was the religious musical of Jesus Christ Superstar, and the album, the guy that plays Judas, I can't recall his name right now, I think it was the guy from Deep Purple at the time, I forget, Ian maybe, but he did one song [sings] but I just was, immediately my eyes lit up, my ears perked up, I got goosebumps all over my entire body, and I went ‘Oh my god, I want to sound like a black guy’, and at 15 I just walked around to the point of driving my parents nuts, my friends nuts,my family nuts, where I just would literally be at kegs on the weekend singing Jesus Christ Superstar. People were like ‘Dude, you don’t even go to church, what’s the deal?’ I’m like ‘It’s not about that man, it’s about the way this guy is singing it. It’s so soulful,’ and they would go‘Oh, you’re a friggin’… there’s something wrong with you, dude, like something wrong with you,’ and I'm like ‘No, trust me’, good times, bad times, they're all great. The Stones, wonderful, but this guy, this is a different type of singing. I don’t even know if he even knows what he’s doing, but it permeates with me. It just feels so natural, and when I would open up my mouth and I would sing loudly, I would naturally sound like that anyway, so it was like I had found home. Without sounding cheesy, I’d been baptized by Jesus Christ Superstar. Yeah, and then that turned on to all these different other soulful singers over time, and eventually I got away from the soulful singers, and started getting into The Clash and stuff, different lyrical mind sets, and how do you incorporate the two and marry them together. And honestly I can say that it wasn't until the past couple of years in my life that I finally learned how to do that, how to really, truly tell a story, and not just make it about something in your head, or a personal experience. How to really, truly tell a story, even if it didn't happen to yourself.
ToddStar: Sure. Well, the way you do it seems so natural. I got one more for you. It’s 2013, nine years after your debut album was released, you guys are working on another one, you've had a killer hometown show in Philadelphia, and you've got two bombastic days lined up here in Flint, Michigan at The Machine Shop. All that said, what’s the meaning of life?
Walt: What’s the meaning of life?
Walt: Happiness, man. Try and be happy, the best you can, no matter what it takes. I think everybody pursues that happiness. We can justify anything, whether you're trying to get it through drugs and alcohol, or family life, or God, or rock and roll. It’s all the same to me. Whatever is going to make you happy.
ToddStar: Very cool. Well, again, Walt, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule for us today, and we cannot wait to watch you guys own Flint, Michigan at The Machine Shop on September 6th and 7th, when you guys bring the real homecoming shows to life.
Walt: Well thank you. We can’t wait to be up there and we’re looking forward to it. Nick will be flying in in a couple of weeksand it will be nice. It will be a good time. There’s a fan up there who’s pretty awesome, I became very close to them early on in Silvertide. His name is Jason Worth. We call him J Man, he knows The Machine Shop well, he’ll be there and if he can get a little shout out on there, he’s the man. He’s like family at this point.
ToddStar: I’ll make sure he gets the mention.
Walt: Yeah, he’s a hard working guy!
ToddStar: Cool. Again, thanks so much Walt, and we’ll see you in about a month and a half.
Walt: Alright cool, thanks again Todd. Peace.
If you need tickets for these killer shows, be sure to check out http://www.themachineshop.info/ for more details.